Rocket Report: Crypto-funded Heavy Rocket; Falcon 9 was damaged during transportation

An electronic missile launched the NROL-162 mission on July 13.
Zoom / An electronic missile launched the NROL-162 mission on July 13.

rocket lab

Welcome to version 5.04 of Rocket Report! Be sure and read to the end, because most of the news this week is about heavy missiles, or at least Suggestion Heavy missiles. Also, there will be no newsletter next week because I will be spending some time with the family. But then I’ll be back in the saddle for the remainder of summer and fall, which promises to be full of expensive rocket launches.

As usual, readers’ submissions are welcome, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe 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 missiles as well as a quick look at the next three launches in the calendar.

Isar Aerospace departs from French Guiana. The German-based launch company announced Thursday that it will conduct commercial and institutional launches from the European spaceport in French Guiana starting in 2024. In what appears to be a nice coup, Isar has been selected by France’s space agency CNES for the opportunity to launch in Diamant launch complex near the equator. Isar is also developing a spaceport in Andøya, Norway, for the Spectrum small launch vehicle.

Compete with other small launchers “With the addition of Koro, we will expand our global network of critical infrastructure and gain more flexibility for our customers,” said Joseph Fleischmann, COO and co-founder of Isar Aerospace. “Creating more launch and deployment capabilities is a cornerstone for entering the global satellite launch market.” Isar will compete with companies such as Relativity Space, ABL Space Systems and Firefly for commercial payloads in the 1-ton class. (Provided by Ken Ben)

Firefly is working towards its second Alpha launch. Firefly Aerospace is preparing for the second launch of its Alpha rocket in late August or early September, Space News reports. “Our goal is within the next 45 to 60 days of being able to launch,” said Peter Schumacher, interim CEO of Firefly Publishing. “It’s really pending, at this point, the availability of scope.” He said the missile itself is ready to fly other than to conduct a rehearsal and a static fire test, which he said will be conducted within two weeks of launch.

Missile wreckage modeling …the company is awaiting a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, which in turn depends on approval of a new wreckage model of the missile. The modified wreckage model came after the first Alpha missile exploded in flight when the range activated the flight termination system. Rocket debris, made primarily of composite carbon materials, fell out of range, including in nearby communities, although no damage was reported. (Provided by EllPeaTea and Ken the Bin)

The easiest way to keep up with Eric Berger’s satellite coverage is to sign up for his newsletter, and we’ll collect his stories in your inbox.

Electron release has been delayed due to payload problem. The National Reconnaissance Office’s next Rocket Lab mission — the second of two consecutive launches for the US satellite spy agency — has been postponed to complete a software update on the classified payload, Spaceflight Now reports. The mission, named NROL-199, was scheduled to launch on Friday from the Rocket Lab port in New Zealand, and the company was supposed to have launched two electrons in a nine-day period.

Where will the NRO go? … Previously, Rocket Lab launched the NROL-162 mission on July 13. Once the software updates are implemented, NRO and Rocket Lab will provide a new release date for NROL-199. Payloads are rated, as with most NRO satellites. It will operate in low Earth orbit, but the target orbital altitude and inclination have not been launched. (Provided by Ken Ben)

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