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In this edition:

  • Artemis I takes flight
  • Gravitics builds ‘Space Utility Vehicles’ for space stations
  • News from ispace, Metaspectral and more

It finally happened. After years of preparation and two false starts, NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System has finally lifted off and entered orbit. It’s a big win for the space agency — nonetheless assigns to SpaceX tasks once intended for SLS.

Some pre-launch jitters threatened to prevent the launch, but a “red team” went to the hot pad to tighten something up, and later a bad ethernet switch of all things had to be replaced as well. But it all came together about 40 minutes after the original T-0 and the rocket had a clean (and impressive looking) climb with no problems to speak of. It reached orbit and as of 13 minutes after launch, the various stages, separations and aborts were all green everywhere.

SLS is a key part of NASA’s Artemis program, designed to return humanity to the Moon “to stay,” as they often emphasize. That means getting a lot of equipment there, stuff that could take years to transport on smaller launch vehicles like the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Rocket Lab Electron. NASA uses the hashtag we are going in the lead up to launch and, well, now we finally are. And I’m excited.

Image Credits: Kevin Deitch/Getty Images

The space industry is on the verge of a revolution. Launch costs, which have fallen dramatically over the past five years, will continue to fall as heavy-lift rockets like SpaceX’s Starship and Relativity’s Terran R become operational. Alongside these developments, numerous private companies have presented plans to build commercial space stations for science, manufacturing and even tourism.

If space stations are the next phase of business in orbit, they will need standard parts – and Gravity aims to be the one who makes them. The startup is headed by space industry veteran Colin Dogan, who studied these currents and saw a gap in the market.

Private station operators “will need an easy LEGO brick to build in space,” he told TechCrunch in a recent interview: flexible, modular hardware to allow humanity to build in space at scale. Gravitics, which emerged from stealth after announcing a $20 million seed round, calls the building block “StarMax.”

Gravitics StarMax Space Station

Image Credits: Gravity

More news from TC and beyond

  • ABL Space Systems canceled two launch attempts this week as the company looks to fly its RS1 rocket for the first time. (ABL)
  • CAPSTONE, the NASA spacecraft testing an unusual lunar trajectory for a potential future space station entered orbit around the moon. (NASA)
  • Hermeus, a start-up developing hypersonic reusable aircraft, has completed a significant engine test, successfully transitioning the engine from a “turbojet” to a “ramjet” engine. (Defense one)
  • ispace will launch its mission to the moon aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 on November 28, the company confirmed. Ispace also struck a deal with Japanese insurers for the world’s first “Moon Insurance” policy. (ispace/ispace)
  • Kaihan space and Morpheus Cosmos are teaming up to develop a collision avoidance service for spacecraft. (SpaceNews)
  • Metaspectral raised a $4.7 million seed round for its hyperspectral data analytics platform. Tim De Chant dives deep into one use case: recycling. (TechCrunch)
  • NASA overheard SpaceX for a second crewed demonstration mission to the Moon using the Starship Human Landing System to fly in 2027 (TechCrunch)
  • Phantom space conducted a 60-second hot-fire test as the company plans to launch its Daytona car next year. (Chris Thompson)
  • Space perspective, a company developing balloon journeys to the edge of space, has acquired its first vessel to be used as a marine spaceport. (Space perspective)
  • Rocket Factory Augsburg will test its Helix engines at the Space Propulsion Institute in Lampoldshausen, Germany, as part of a new deal with the German Aerospace Center. (Payload)
  • SpaceX employees who were fired after writing an open letter criticizing Elon Musk’s leadership filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. (New York Times)
  • United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority has issued the country’s first spaceport license to Cornwall Spaceport, allowing Virgin Orbit to begin preparations for its upcoming mission. (Civil Aviation Administration)

Max Q brought to you by me, Aria Alamalhodai. If you enjoy reading Max Q, forward it to a friend.

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