Hello and welcome back to Max Q. In this issue:
- Artemis launch update
- Rocket Lab and Sierra Space’s new agreements for space transportation
- News from Axiom, OneWeb and more
By the way… TechCrunch Disrupt finally returns – live and in person – to San Francisco on October 18-20. Use this link to get passes at 15% off (except online and expo).
NASA provides an update on the Artemis I launch
NASA has said it aims to attempt to launch the Artemis I mission on September 23 and 27, dates far enough away that the agency will hopefully have enough time to resolve the hydrogen line problems that caused the shutdown. the rocket during the first two launch attempts.
The agency must replace and reseal the leaking liquid hydrogen lines, then perform tests to ensure the seal is working, Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems development, explained at a media briefing. NASA will not conduct a full wet dress rehearsal in addition to these tests. All this work will be done on the launch padwhich spares the agency the need to return the massive rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.
The other big hurdle is that those launch dates must be approved by the US Space Force Eastern Range, which manages the launch schedule from the East Coast of the United States. The space force would also have to grant an exemption to the rocket’s flight termination system, which is battery-powered and approved for use for only 25 days. All in all, I’m crossing my fingers that the engineers can do all the necessary work before the next launch attempt.
A rocket laboratory and Sierra Space have signed separate agreements with the US Department of Defense (DOD) to explore how their respective flight systems—Rocket Lab’s Electron and Neutron rockets, Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser space plane—can be used for superfast delivery of loads on Earth.
The agreements are what are known as Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), a means of facilitating research and development work between the government and non-governmental organizations such as start-ups and private companies. These specific CRADAs are under the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), an agency under the DOD umbrella.
Under its agreement, Sierra Space and the military will jointly explore the use of its Dream Chaser hypersonic space transport aircraft for ground cargo and personnel delivery. Under Rocket Lab’s agreement, it will work with the military to investigate the use of the Electron and Neutron launch vehicles, also for cargo delivery. Although Electron has successfully reached orbit multiple times, both Neutron and Dream Chaser are still under development.
“Point-to-point space transportation offers a new opportunity to rapidly move equipment around the world in hours, enabling a faster response to global emergencies and natural disasters,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said in a statement. “We are excited to collaborate with USTRANSCOM on this forward-thinking, innovative research program that could ultimately change the way the Department of Defense looks at logistics response options.”
More news from TC and beyond
- Albedoa start-up company building a satellite constellation capable of capturing visible and thermal images, closed a Series A round for $48 millionco-led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Shield Capital.
- An apple will soon allow iPhone users to send an emergency SOS via satellite link.
- Axiom Cosmos won a $228.5 million NASA contract to design space suits and life support systems to be worn by Artemis III astronauts.
- China conducted two shots within two hours of each other, bringing the total number of orbital launches so far this year to 37. Meanwhile, the country is preparing a rocket for send the third module of the Tiangong Space Station in space in October.
- Countdown capital raised $15 million for its second fund to support companies that want to, in the words of founder Jai Malik, “rebuild the American industrial base.”
- Europe launched an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana Wednesday. The rocket carried a communication satellite of the French company Eutelsat.
- Huawei will be offering text messages via satellites of its flagship Mate 50 series, announcing the news just one day before Apple makes its own equivalent of satellite communications.
- Masten Space Systems held an auction for its assets as part of its ongoing bankruptcy process, with Astrobotic submitting the highest bid of $4.5 million.
- Near the space labs will share Earth observation images with researchers, nonprofits, and universities for 12 months through its Earth Imaging Community Sustainability and Innovation Grant Program.
- OneWeb occurred an impairment charge of $229 million for fiscal year 2022 due to the postponement of multiple launches that were supposed to go into space aboard Russia’s Soyuz rockets.
- of South Korea lunar orbiter successfully completed a trajectory-correcting maneuver, a key part of its much longer journey to the Moon.
- SpaceX conducted an eight-second static fire test on all six engines of the Ship 24 prototype from its Starbase facility in southeast Texas. The test caused a handful of grass fires in the area around the pad.
- Taranisa company developing a platform for crop intelligence, raised a $40 million Series D led by European climate technology fund Inven Capital.
- US Federal Communications Commission can introduce new rules setting a five-year limit on the ejection of satellites into low Earth orbit after they have fulfilled their mission objectives. The current recommendation for deorbiting a satellite is 25 years after mission completion.
Photo of the week
NASA tweeted this photo from 1969 of Queen Elizabeth II with Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin at Buckingham Palace. The trio met the Queen as part of the Apollo II Goodwill Tour. Whatever your feelings about the British monarchy, this week the world lost a paragon of the twentieth century.
Max Q brought to you by me, Aria Alamalhodai. If you enjoy reading Max Q, forward it to a friend.