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Rocket Report: Falcon Heavy Ready to Fly, Stratolaunch Plane Available for Sale


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Welcome to Version 2.04 of the Rocket Exhibition! We have some up-to-date news this week with updated start dates for NASA commercial missions, BE-7 valve tests and a Falcon Heavy flight early next week. Thanks to everyone for their great contributions – almost all of this week's content came from your advice.

As always, we welcome the reader's comments, and if you do not want to miss a problem, please sign up using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small, medium and heavy lift rockets and a quick look at the next three versions of the calendar.

"Brutal consolidation" comes for a small shot. In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Rocket Lab's Peter Beck talks about how his company (and does not use) 3D print technology for its missiles and engines. Beck also discusses a consistent issue in this newsletter, that despite all the activity in the development of launch vehicles, there is considerable weakness in the providers.

Definitely a bubble "There is a huge number of small launch vehicles in development," said Beck. "And it's funny, because everyone is referring to the same customers, so we're predicting a really brutal integration of the car launch spot market, it's definitely a bubble in the next 12 to 18 months." It's hard to disagree with that feeling , although depending on the extent of the US Department of Defense's support, we can see at least two or three US smallsat launch companies, and a similar number in China.

Stratolaunch for sale. Holding Vulcan seeks to sell Stratolaunch for $ 400 million, people familiar with the issue told CNBC. Vulcan is the investment group of Microsoft's last billionaire and Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. Allen died last October after complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The price includes ownership of the airplane as well as intellectual property and facilities.

Who will buy? … It is not clear who could become a buyer, although the report shows that Richard Branson of Virgin has offered $ 1 for the plane. This is an unfortunate but possibly predictable development for a company that never seemed to make that much sense from a business perspective: using a very large plane to launch relatively small rockets. (filed by Ken the Bin)

Firefly offers free rides in its first launch. On Monday, Texas-based Firefly announced it would receive free academic and educational payloads on Alpha's first missile flight. "We wanted to do this on our first flight from the start," said CEO Tom Markusic. The payloads will fly in a 300 km circular orbit, with a 97 degree inclination. The company also has a (disclose) customer for the flight, Ars Technica says.

When is the launch? … Markusic admitted that the impetus for a launch in December by the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is aggressive and that, to do this, the company must respond to a tight timetable. Objectively, the beginning of December is feasible. Historically, however, Markusic said he realizes that often problems arise during the trial and other activities that have the potential to delay the start dates. (filed by Ken the Bin)

NASA is developing a new start for smallsat rockets. Intended to be completed by the end of this year, NASA is launching the launch complex 48 between the Kennedy Space Pad 39A and the Southern launch unit of the Cape Canaveral 41 Air Force Station. The space agency intends to use the facility for commercial companies that want a pillow to launch their small missiles, Florida Today reports.

Only small missiles "This is a NASA capability that is available to any small launcher company that wants to come here and make small vehicle launches," said Tom Engler, Kennedy's Space Design and Development Manager. The maximum lift weight for small missiles would be 300,000 pounds and no landing would be allowed. This represents a fairly big change in thinking from NASA from a decade or two before, and a welcome one. (submitted by trimeta)

Should Rocket Lab reveal its payloads? The company has not uncovered one of seven payloads that start from New Zealand on the Make it Rain mission later this month, and a local publication called Stuff has applied to the government to force the disclosure. The New Zealand Department of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment will decide on the request. The ministry will balance the justification for any secrecy against the public interest in disclosure and should provide the reasons why it refused to provide information.

There are no weapons … One thing that Rocket Lab's Peter Beck said the company will not do is to launch weapons. "All of the payloads we have started to date are all beneficial" R & D "loads that have dual-use applications," Beck said. "We will never throw weapons or something that is not really committed to safe and safe and responsible use of space. We will not do anything that is not in line with our core values. "This will be an interesting case to follow, with the possibility of damaging Rocket Lab's commercial prospects for New Zealand launches (submitted by platykurtic)

Environmentalists are worried about the Scottish launch site. The land on the Ahohine peninsula in northern Scotland has been identified as the site for rocket launchers carrying small satellites, but new research questions have arisen because environmental protection has been selected for the "wild land" project. Research by Professors Mike Danson and Geoff Whittam casts doubt that 40 "high-quality" posts will be created by the spacecraft, indicating that "the jobs available to residents of the area have been declared clean and safe" .

Behind the Orbex … The document challenges the focus of Highlands and Islands Enterprise on the AoMoine site in other locations. It also suggests that a previous report overestimated the level of Community support without paying enough attention to infrastructure and environmental characterization. Companies that have proposed using the launch site, such as Orbex, have removed new findings. (submitted by BH)

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