SpaceX capsule splashes down off Florida after rocket failure test – Strategy – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Elon Musk’s SpaceX simulated a successful emergency landing on Sunday in a dramatic test of a crucial abort system on an unmanned astronaut capsule, laying the foundation for its mission to fly NASA astronauts for the first time.
A Crew Dragon astronaut capsule launched at 10:30 a.m. and softly splashed down about 32 km off the coast of Cape Canaveral in Florida roughly eight minutes later, after ejecting itself from a rocket that cut off its engines 19 km above the ocean to mimic a launch failure.
Tempemail Aeronautics and Space Administration administrator Jim Bridenstine called the mission a success.
“This critical test puts us on the cusp of once again launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” Bridenstine wrote on Twitter. “Spacecraft recovery operations are underway.”
In a key trial for carrying humans, SpaceX was also testing its rescue teams’ response after splash down. They scrambled toward Crew Dragon with the US Air Force’s Detachment 3 emergency rescue teams in tow — a vital part of the test to practice a rescue mission to retrieve astronauts from the capsule.
Moments before the launch, Musk wrote on Twitter that it was a risky mission that was “pushing the envelope in so many ways”.
The Crew Dragon capsule, an acorn-shaped pod that can seat seven astronauts, fired on-board thrusters to detach itself from a Falcon 9 rocket less than two minutes after liftoff, simulating an emergency abort scenario to prove it can return astronauts to safety. Each stage of the test prompted loud cheers from SpaceX crew members watching the footage from back on land.
The test is crucial to qualify the capsule to fly humans to the International Space Station, something NASA expects to come as soon as mid-2020. It follows years of development and delays as the United States has sought to revive its human spaceflight program through private partnerships.
NASA awarded $US4.2 billion to Boeing and $US2.5 billion to SpaceX in 2014 to develop separate capsule systems capable of ferrying astronauts to the space station from US soil for the first time since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011. The space agency has since relied on Russian spacecraft for rides to the space station.
During the test the Falcon 9 rocket’s boosters shut down in a mock failure that triggered Crew Dragon’s so-called SuperDraco thrusters to jet itself away at supersonic speeds of up to 1,500 miles per hour (2,400 kph). The Falcon 9 booster free-fell back to the ocean, with its first stage crashing into the ocean creating a tall plume of smoke seen on the horizon.
The capsule deployed four parachutes to slow its descent to the water, and carried two human-shaped test dummies on seats fitted with motion sensors to collect data on the immense g-force — the effect of acceleration on the body — astronauts would be subjected to during abort.
The test was originally scheduled for mid-2019 but was delayed after a Crew Dragon capsule exploded in April on a test stand just before firing its launch abort thrusters, triggering a lengthy investigation.
SpaceX-led investigators in July zeroed in on a previously unknown explosive reaction between a titanium valve and a propellant used to ignite the thrusters. A SpaceX official said the company completed the investigation within the last week.

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SpaceX Starhopper Rocket Completes Second and Final Test Flight


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SpaceX has big plans for the Starship that include launching deep space missions and colonizing Mars. Before it can do any of that, it has to finish designing the vehicle. The final Starship will be a sci-fi masterpiece of stainless steel, but the Starhopper is its stubby precursor. This prototype rocket is still plenty sci-fi, though. In its latest and final test, the Starhopper successfully hovered hundreds of feet in the air and landed at the company’s Boca Chica test facility. 

The Starhopper is the first vehicle to use SpaceX Raptor engine. The final Starship will have six Raptor engines, but Starhopper only has one. That’s still enough to lift it above the dusty Texas landscape and set it down gently. The first Starhopper tests took place in the spring of this year, but they were tethered. The rocket flew just above the ground before landing. In July, Starhopper had its first real flight, rising to an altitude of 65 feet (almost 20 meters) before landing. 

Yesterday’s test marks the most impressive achievement for the Starhopper, but it’s also its last flight. The rocket lifted off just after 5PM local time, flying up to an altitude of 500 feet (150 meters) and hanging there for a few seconds. Then, it floated back down to land on a nearby launch pad. The entire operation took just 57 seconds. 

This test vehicle is basically an analog of the old “Grasshopper” prototype that preceded Falcon 9 landings. Starhopper has done its job and now passes the torch to SpaceX’s orbital prototypes, known as Starship Mk1 and Mk2. SpaceX is currently building Mk1 at Boca Chica and Mk2 in Florida. Both rockets will look more like the promised sci-fi Starship, but they might not have the full complement of Raptor engines. CEO Elon Musk has promised at least three, though. They’ll need at least that to reach orbit. 

The test launches of Mk1 and Mk2 will give SpaceX that data it needs to finish the first fully operational Starships, which could begin flying as soon as 2021. SpaceX also needs to work on the first stage launch platform for the Starship, which is known as Super Heavy. The first major test of the Starship will be the lunar orbit mission, financed by Japanese fashion magnate Yusaku Maezawa around 2023. Musk has talked about sending people to Mars as early as the mid-2020s, but that seems a bit overly optimistic.

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Rocket Lab successfully launches rideshare rocket with two experimental USAF satellites on board – gpgmail


Rocket Lab has successfully launched its eight mission, an Electron rocket rideshare flight carrying four satellites to orbit for various clients. The Electron launched from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, at 12:12 AM NZST (8:12 AM ET). This was its second attempt, after a scrub last week due to adverse weather conditions on the launch range.

On board, it carried a rideshare mission from launch services provider Spaceflight, which works to bring together payloads to simplify the process of finding a provider for smaller payloads and companies. The Spaceflight portion of the payload included three satellites: One satellite from BlackSky, which does Earth-imaging, and which will join its twin launched by Rocket Lab in June already in low-Earth orbit to form a constellation.

Spaceflight’s cargo also included two experimental satellites launched by the U.S. Air Force Space Command, which will carry out tests of new technology related to spacecraft propulsion, power, communications and more, and which are designed to pave the way for deployment of related technologies in future spacecraft.

There’s also a fourth satellite on board, a CubeSat that will be the anchor for a new constellation aimed at providing up-to-date and accurate monitoring of maritime traffic, operated by Unseenlabs.

Rocket Lab’s New Zealand LC-1 will be joined by a second launch site in Virginia, to provide a U.S.-based complimentary launch site for serving customers on a monthly basis.

The company also plans to eventually make its Electron rockets reusable, even though they were originally intended as fully expendable launch vehicles, using a recovery process that involves catching returning rockets mid-air after they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. Today’s launch included a test of recovery equipment for the Electron’s first stage – an initial test that aimed to have the rocket land back in the Pacific via parachute, where Rocket Lab will attempt to pick it up from the ocean for potential refurbishment.


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Northrop Grumman to build its OmegA rocket at NASA’s VAB as first commercial tenant – gpgmail


NASA is celebrating alongside Northrop Grumman at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as the latter becomes the first commercial partner to make use of the Vehicle Assembly Building on-site at the base. The VAB, as its more commonly known, is a cavernous building that’s used to build and test rockets ahead of rolling them out to nearby launch pads, which was originally constructed by NASA to support the Apollo program.

Northrop Grumman will be using the VAB to build and prep its OmegA launch vehicle, a new rocket the company is building to transport intermediate and heavy payloads to orbit. It’s a fully expendable rocket, which Northrop is positioning as a lower-risk alternative to reusable models flown by competitors (cough SpaceX cough) and it’s also build as an ‘affordable’ option for those seeking launch services. OmegA is designed to help Northrop Grumman compete for future national security launch contracts, as well as support commercial customer missions.

NASA will also continue to use the VAB for the assembly of its own Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will be supporting missions in the Artemis program and transporting the Lockheed Martin-built Orion crew craft to space, and eventually to the Moon.

Kennedy also already plays host to rocket assembly and launch facilities for both SpaceX and Blue Origin, making it a hot spot for public-private space business activity.


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Rocket Internet’s Caterwings acquires German business catering marketplace Lemoncat – gpgmail


Caterwings, the Rocket Internet-founded corporate catering marketplace that operates in 8 countries, has acquired German competitor Lemoncat.

Terms remain undisclosed, although I understand from a source close to the company that it was an “8-digit all stock” deal and sees investors, which include Lukasz Gadowski, Target Global, Point 9, and Northzone, pick up shares in Caterwings’ parent company B2B Food Group.

Noteworthy, Rocket Internet was also an investor in Lemoncat, despite founding Caterwings, as it is prone to do.

Meanwhile, the two combined companies are disclosing the completion of another financing round to bolster the newly rolled up venture. The sees a further €5 million invested into B2B Food Group, bringing total investment to €13 million the last 9 months.

I’m told Lemoncat’s legacy investors participated, signalling that they remain bullish on the corporate catering market, essentially doubling down on their investment in the space rather than seeking an exit.

“The market in Europe is clearly there and the question is not whether it will be digitalized, but only when,” says Lemoncat founder and CEO Doreen Huber. “Hence I am thrilled to be part of the further expansion of the international market leadership of the B2B Food Group”.

The merger of the two companies also comes shortly after takeout food behemoth Just Eat acquired City Pantry, a rival to Caterwings in the U.K., for £16 million.

“It proves to us that also the big consumer food platforms see how great the B2B market is,” Huber tells me. “The baskets are much higher and therefore a business customer is more attractive”.


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Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket will go reusable, with the company aiming for mid-air helicopter recovery – gpgmail


Private rocket launch startup and SpaceX competitor Rocket Lab made a big announcement today: It’ll be looking to re-use the first stage of its Electron rockets, returning them to Earth with a controlled landing after they make their initial trip to orbit with the payload on board. The landing sequence will be different from SpaceX’s however: They’ll attempt to catch the returned first stage mid-air using a helicopter.

That’s in part because, as Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck told a crowd when announcing the news today, the company is”not doing a propulsive re-entry” and “we’re not doing a propulsive landing,” and instead will leach off its immense speed upon return to Earth through a turnaround burn in space before releasing a parachute to slow it down enough for a helicopter to catch it.

There are a number of steps required to get to that point, but already, Rocket Lab has been looking to measure all the data it needs to ensure this is possible through its last few launches. It’s upgrading the instrumentation for its eighth flight to gather yet more data, and then on flight 10 it’ll have the rocket splash down into the ocean to recover that rocket for even more learning. Then, during a flight to be determined later (Beck is unwilling to put a number on it at this stage) they’ll try to actually bring one down in good enough shape to reuse it.

As for why, there’s a clear advantage to being able to re-fly rockets, and it’s a simple one to understand when you realize that there’s huge amount of demand for commercial launches.

“The fundamental reason we’re doing this is launch frequency,” Beck said. “Even if I can get the stage done once, I can effectively double production ratio.”

Beck also added that the biggest difficulty will be braking the rocket’s speed as it returns to Earth – a feat next to which he said the actual mid-air capture of the Electron via helicopter is actually pretty easy, from his POV as an amateur helicopter pilot in training.

Rocket Lab has an HQ in Huntington Beach, California and its own private launch site in New Zealand, was founded in 2006 by Beck. The company has been test launching its orbital Electron rocket since 2017, and serving customers commercially since 2018. It also intends to launch from Virginia in the U.S. starting in 2019.

The company revealed its Photon satellite platform earlier this year, which would allow small satellite operators to focus on their specific service and use the off-the-shelf Photon design to skip the step of actually designing and building the satellite itself.


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