Sunday, 17 July 2016

SpaceX CRS-9 launch sucessful

Still here, but has been a quiet few weeks in the Newspace scene (unlike the UK political scene!). Hopefully things will start to pick up again, this morning for example saw another successful SpaceX CRS launch. The full webcast cane be seen here:
In other news am off to Europe tomorrow for 10 days travelling round, so probably won't post again until I return.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Another Blue Origin Update

In my inbox today:

We broke ground on our orbital vehicle manufacturing site in Florida.

The 750,000 square foot rocket factory is custom-built from the ground up to accommodate manufacturing, processing, integration and testing. Among other things, the facility hosts large scale friction stir welding and automated composite processing equipment. All of the vehicle will be manufactured in this facility except for the engines. Initial BE-4 engine production will occur at our Kent facility while we conduct a site selection process later this year for a larger engine production facility to accommodate higher production rates.

I’ve included some photos that will give you an idea of what the vehicle manufacturing facility will look like in December 2017 when it’s complete.

It’s exciting to see the bulldozers in action--we’re clearing the way for the production of a reusable fleet of orbital vehicles that we will launch and land, again and again.

Gradatim Ferociter!

Jeff Bezos

 
Site preparation is underway in Florida

 
Bird’s-eye view of our new orbital vehicle manufacturing site

 
Here’s an artist’s rendition

 
Let the rockets roll
Note the vehicles poking out in the last picture- looks like 3 engines? If so more powerful than previously thought (rumours I'd seen suggested a single BE-4 in the first stage).



Sunday, 26 June 2016

The week in review 7 (fortnightly edition)

Been an eventful week here in the UK (to put it mildly!)

Furthermore as I messed up last week today am covering the big news of the past two weeks. Thankfully this week has been a bit quieter than the previous one.

Biggest news then this past fortnight were the successful launches by SpaceX and Blue Origin. I followed the first launch with some speculation on Falcon 9v2.

Also Virgin posted an update, and Stratolaunch released more info (still nothing on their rocket though),

Jeff Bezos was awarded a prize (which Elon Musk has also won, maybe they could have a duel with the swords presented to them!),

Thoughts on Aerospace planes,

NewSpace 2016 conference took place (have watched some of the coverage but been a bit preoccupied)

Finally in related news, Tesla Motors (Biggest shareholder Elon Musk) is attempting to take over Solar city (Biggest shareholder Elon Musk)

Monday, 20 June 2016

Another successful New Shepard flight

I didn't get a chance to watch the live stream as I was out all day (and when I got back was too tired to post, hence this weeks review is a bit late).  I did managed to see the shorten clip this morning, which includes the main highlights:

I really want to know when they plan to ramp up theri flight and production rates, and am looking forward to the first manned flights. Am going to watch the full webcast now:

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Random speculation: Falcon 9 v2

Following on from yesterdays landing failure, a few thoughts on how the data gathered from these flights could be put to use and what features the next version should have.

First of all, it should be designed for increased ruggedness and for reusability from the start (natch). This should mean an aim for aircraft like performance and an eventual aim of 'gas and go' operations. These vehicles should undergo an incremental test programme to determine reliability before putting on second stages and payloads. The staging and mass ratio between first and second should be optimised for reusability, if they find that the GTO missions put too much stress on the vehicles or don't have the margins for landing then keep flying them as expendables and only reuse for low orbit missions.

Second, I think should be a wider, shorter vehicle. Maybe around 6 metres wide first stage (compared to the current ones 3.8m) This is to increase stability on landing and to allow a larger fairing to be used. I would also attach the fairing directly to the first stage and put the second stage and payload (for unmanned launches) inside, a la Antares and Delta heavy. This way the fairing can be recovered with the first stage (I'm imaging it opening to deploy at separation a bit like the rocket in Thunderball). Another advantage is that larger, Raptor powered upper stages could be used on the heavy version. These could then lead to a reusable upper stage (one idea I have is a conical stage that incorporates a Dragon capsule for manned missions)

Finally, the 6m tanking can the used for the next generation raptor powered first stages, which could be built in various lengths and with different numbers of engines to replace F9 and heavy prior to MCT launchers coming online.

Of course, it is most likley the announcement in September will render these points all moot. Or I could have been prophetic....

Blue Origin launch delayed

Due to needed replacement O-rings. Full details here.