To the moon!!!  – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome back to Max Q. T-minus 1 week until Artemis I takes off. Are you going? I will be there! In this edition:

  • NASA’s Mega Lunar Rocket rolls toward the launch pad
  • A cornerstone of Skyrora’s testing on Scottish soil
  • News from Astrobotic, Blue Origin and more

NASA engineers have completed final tests of the Space Launch System (SLS), clearing the way for the launch of the mega rocket to the moon several days ahead of schedule.

The space agency was able to move the deployment date — when SLS moves from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center — because it completed testing of the Flight Termination System (FTS). The FTS is a critical series of components that ensure a missile can be safely destroyed after liftoff. Testing the FTS was the “last major activity” on NASA’s pre-launch to-do list, the agency said.

That means NASA is on track to target August 29 for the first launch of the 322-foot mega rocket and Orion spacecraft. With the extension from Space Launch Delta 45, NASA will have additional launch options on September 2nd and September 5th.

NASA's Artemis I Space Launch System

Image Credits: Aubrey Geminiani/NASA via Getty Images

UK based startup company Skyrora hit a new milestone in the development of its Skyrora XL missile with the completion of a second-stage static fire test. The single engine, designed and manufactured by Skyrora, completed a nominal run of 20 seconds, bringing the company one step closer to its first orbital launch in late 2023.

Skyrora is one of a number of small launch companies based in the UK and Europe, each hoping to compete in those countries’ booming commercial space sectors. According to Skyrora COO Lee Rosen, whose career spans a 23-year stint in the US Air Force and an 11-year stint at SpaceX, this test sets Skyrora apart from the competition.

“Others like to represent their factory well or maybe an engine test or things like that, but I think the fact that [we’ve] Getting a test of an integrated system solution says a lot about where we are at,” he said.

“It’s not about bragging about what you could do,” Rosen added. “It’s about doing. This second stage test is a great way to do it and show it.”

Skyrora XL second stage

Image Credits: Skyrora

More news from TC and beyond

  • Astrobotic offered $4.5 million for the assets of Masten Space Systems, which last month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
  • Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander successfully passed communication testing with the Deep Space Network and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory prior to the lunar lander mission.
  • Blue Origin’s the Missile Recovery Vessel “Jacklyn” is headed for the scrap yard. The company appears to be rethinking its recovery plans, though it’s unclear what method it might use instead.
  • D-Orbit canceled its merger plans with special-purpose acquisition company Breeze Holdings Acquisition Corp., a deal that was expected to inject D-Orbit with as much as $185 million.
  • European Space Agency is appealing to preconceived notions for a reusable heavy-lift rocket à la Starship “to accommodate large space infrastructures (eg space solar, space data center, etc.) and deep space missions.”
  • European Space Agency also launched a new startup accelerator called Northern launch for startups focused on space technology.
  • Firefly Aerospace announced the next attempt to launch the Alpha rocket is scheduled for September 11, following the completion of a successful static fire test.
  • HawkEye 360’s fourth and fifth satellite clusters have operations began, doubling the constellation’s data and imaging capacity. There are three satellites in each cluster.
  • Redwire said he would develop the first commercial greenhouse into space, for launch no earlier than spring 2023. The greenhouse, which will be installed on the International Space Station, is being funded through an award from the ISS National Laboratory.
  • SKY Perfect JSATa Japanese company, ordered of SpaceX Starship will launch its Superbird-9 communications satellite. According to the press releaselaunch is planned for 2024.
  • Space in Africa appreciated in a new report that Africa’s space economy is expected to grow by 16.16% from 2021-2026, from $19.49 billion to $22.64 billion.
  • SpaceX wants to increase the startup cadence from the West Bank by “more than twice” and as a result the rent. “We’re going to train you,” Falcon 9 operations manager Stephen Cameron said on LinkedIn.

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

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