SpaceX intends to launch a final upgrade to the Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 5, later this year, and has three Falcon Heavy launches planned for the next 17 months.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the prime contractor for Japan’s next-generation launch vehicle, the H3, says it is on schedule for a first launch in 2020, and will soon learn if the cost-cutting efforts pursued over the past three years will meet the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s goal of halving launch prices compared to the H-2A.
SpaceX completed a “doubleheader” of launches June 25 with the launch of a second set of next-generation Iridium satellites from California, two days after another Falcon 9 from the East Coast.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launched a Bulgarian communications satellite June 23, a mission that marked the second time the company reused the rocket’s first stage.
Despite the ongoing development of a fleet of small launch vehicles, both launch providers and customers continue to see demand for flying small satellites as secondary payloads on larger rockets.
The European Space Agency began funding a reusable rocket engine anticipated to be ready for a test-fire demonstration in 2020, the same year as the first launch of the future Ariane 6 rocket.
Scheduled lift off is at 11:59 p.m. Eastern carrying a Cartosat-2 remote-sensing satellite. Also on board will be 30 smallsat secondary payloads from 15 countries.
Advocates of small satellites argue that such systems could offer a much-need “layer of resiliency” for national security space applications for as little as one percent of current spending on such programs.
Glavkosmos Director General Denis Lyskov said at the Paris Air Show Tuesday that future missions could fly two tourists and one professional cosmonaut, possibly visiting the ISS.
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium is willing to use pre-flown Falcon 9 first stage boosters for the second half of its fleet replacement if SpaceX can show that reuse will shorten Iridium’s wait for launches.
Airbus has signed up to be the first commercial customer to use Europe’s future Vega C rocket, ordering two launchers to orbit a four-satellite Earth-observation constellation.
Russian company Glavkosmos is seeking to become a major player in the small satellite launch market, with plans to launch up to 120 satellites as secondary payloads on three Soyuz missions this year.
Officials did not provide additional details about the satellite's orbit, but did state that the satellite had deployed its solar panels and was functioning normally.
The brief test of the motor, at a company facility in Utah, demonstrated its ability to pull the Orion away from an SLS in an emergency.
The system uses GPS data and onboard computers to monitor the rocket's trajectory and destroy it should it go off course. It was first tested earlier this year on a Falcon 9 launch from the Kennedy Space Center.
Boeing, DARPA will base XS-1 experimental spaceplane at Cape Canaveral when it begins testing in a few years
The XS-1 vehicle, known as Phantom Express, will launch vertically from an unspecified pad at Cape Canaveral and make a landing at one of two runways there.