Rocket Report: SLS Boosters May Expire in December; Blue Origin supplies the BE-4s

Rocket Report: SLS Boosters May Expire in December; Blue Origin supplies the BE-4s

Image of Falcon 9 rockets landing at Cape Canaveral.
enlarge / This photo shows the two side-mounted boosters from this week’s Falcon Heavy launch in Florida.

Trevor Mahlmann

Welcome to edition 5.16 of the Rocket Report! If you add up, there are now less than 60 days until the end of 2022. How many more US missiles will make their debut before the end of the year? SLS? Terra 1? super heavy? RS1? None of the above? You didn’t ask, but my over/under would be 1.5 of the above, and that might be a bit optimistic.

As always, we welcome submissions from readers, and if you don’t want to miss a problem, you can subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-compatible versions of the site). Each report includes information on small, medium and heavy rockets, as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Rocket Lab is going to try booster recovery again. The US-based rocket company says it will make a second attempt to recover an airborne Electron booster during Friday’s launch of a Swedish science satellite. Space News Reports. This “Catch Me If You Can” mission will launch on November 4 at 1:15 PM ET (5:15 PM UTC) from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. The launch marks Rocket Lab’s second attempt at helicopter recovery of the Electron’s first stage, which descends under a parachute.

Good hunting! … On the first attempt on May 2, a hook hanging from the helicopter grabbed the parachute, but the pilot released it moments later after noticing what the company called “different load characteristics than what we experienced during testing”. The stage instead splashed down and was recovered by a boat. “Our first helicopter capture, just a few months ago, proved that we can do what we set out to do with Electron, and we are eager to get the helicopter back and further improve our reusability of our missiles by bring back a dry phase for the first time,” said Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, in a statement about the upcoming launch. (submitted by Ken the Bin and Tfargo04)

Firefly looking for extra capital. Just after launching its first Alpha rocket into orbit, Firefly Aerospace is looking to raise a whopping $300 million in a private fundraising round, Reuters reports:. The Texas-based company was valued at more than $1 billion when private equity firm AE Industrial Partners became the controlling shareholder in March, but it has not set a valuation for this round.

How much money is there? … The new funding would be used to complete construction of Firefly’s Alpha rocket production facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and accelerate development of a mid-range rocket that the company plans to build with Northrop Grumman. Given the challenges of raising new capital for aerospace companies in today’s environment, it will be interesting to see how much Firefly can tap into. (submitted by Ken de Bin)

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Residents fight back against Canadian motorcycle tests. Trent Hills, an Ontario municipality about halfway between Toronto and Ottawa, has asked Canadian launch company SpaceRyde to stop testing rocket engines. “Trent Hills has received many questions, concerns and complaints regarding rocket engine testing taking place in the rural area at a location on County Road 29,” Trent Hills Reported Now. On October 7, the local government asked SpaceRyde to voluntarily stop testing.

Maybe they can fix it? … The company has until later this month to respond. Some local residents want nothing to do with it SpaceRyde, which wants to develop a rocket that can be launched from a balloon. However, the municipality said it was willing to work with the rocket company: “If there remains a desire to continue use, the municipality has a range of options to engage both with the owner and user of the site as well as to allay the public’s concerns.” (submitted by JC)

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