MAKE CHAPTER 288 YOUR AVIATION HOME! E-AB, TYPE CERTIFIED, VINTAGE, WARBIRD, ETC.
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Boeing will indefinitely ground its Starliner space vehicle as it probes a technical malfunction, officials announced over the weekend. The reusable capsule had originally been scheduled to launch last fall before a series of delays pushed it to early August, when it failed a series of preflight checks that resulted in a scrubbed launch. Reports suggest the vehicle experienced a series of malfunctioning valves in its propulsion system—the entire capsule is being returned to Boeing's factory for further testing.
Boeing was one of two companies—the other being SpaceX—awarded multibillion-dollar grants under NASA's effort to develop private-sector crew transport capabilities. The uncrewed test flight was scheduled at the behest of Boeing, who footed a $410M cost, after software issues prevented a first test flight from docking with the International Space Station.
Nothing to do with aviation, but I found this to be a very interesting story about what's happening at Kennedy Space Center in partnership with Florida Power and Light or as we used to refer to it back in the 1970's, Florida Flicker and Flash
With hundreds of thousands logging in all over the globe to watch, the 'much upgraded' Starship SN15 aced a test flight that had destroyed four prototypes before it.
On Wednesday, May 5, Starship serial number 15 (SN15) successfully completed SpaceX’s fifth high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype from Starbase in Texas.
Similar to previous high-altitude flight tests of Starship, SN15 was powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN15 performed a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.
The Starship prototype descended under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. All four flaps were actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enabled precise landing at the intended location. SN15’s Raptor engines reignited as the vehicle performed the landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down for a nominal landing on the pad.
While a small fire (probably methane-fed) was evident for several minutes after the landing, it was eventually extinguished without visible damage.
SpaceX notes that, "These test flights of Starship are all about improving our understanding and development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration interplanetary flights, and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond."
SpaceX's Starlink megaconstellation is designed to provide global broadband coverage for high-speed internet access, particularly for people in rural and remote areas. Each of the flat-panel Starlink satellites weighs roughly a quarter-ton and are built in-house at a SpaceX facility in Redmond, Washington. (The company also manufactures its own own user terminals and ground stations.) While SpaceX expects its initial set of Starlink satellites to be 1,440 strong, the company has plans to launch thousands more. Company founder and CEO Elon Musk has said SpaceX needs between 500 and 800 satellites in orbit before service can begin to roll out. SpaceX is inching closer and closer to that goal, as it has delivered nearly 800 into orbit so far.
The Federal Communications Commission has granted SpaceX permission to launch as many as 12,000 of the flat-panel broadband satellites, but SpaceX may not stop there. The company has indicated it will see approval to launch as many as 30,000 of its internet-beaming satellites to beam down high-speed, low-latency Internet signals.
SpaceX plans to get even more ambitious with its pinpoint rocket landings.
Elon Musk's company routinely recovers and reuses the first stages of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, bringing the boosters down for soft vertical landingsabout 9 minutes after liftoff on ground near the launch pad or on autonomous "drone ships" in the ocean.
These touchdowns are impressively precise. But SpaceX aims to achieve something truly mind-blowing with Starship, the next-generation system the company is developing to take people and payloads to the moon, Mars and other distant destinations.
UNITED LAUNCH ALLIANCE WAS SUCCESSFUL
Launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO-5 missile detection and early warning satellite for the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center was successful
Click this link to see pictures of the launch:
SPACEX SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED A DRAGON
RESUPPLY SPACECRAFT TO THE ISS
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Dragon Spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the 22nd SpaceX commercial resupply mission to send research and supplies to the International Space Station
The core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for NASA’s Artemis I mission has been placed on the mobile launcher in between the twin solid rocket boosters inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The boosters attach at the engine and intertank sections of the core stage. Serving as the backbone of the rocket, the core stage supports the weight of the payload, upper stage, and crew vehicle, as well as carrying the thrust of its four engines and two five-segment solid rocket boosters. After the core stage arrived on April 27, engineers with Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs brought the core stage into the VAB for processing work and then lifted it into place with one of the five overhead cranes in the facility.
Once the core stage is stacked alongside the boosters, the launch vehicle stage adapter, which connects the core stage to the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS), will be stacked atop the core stage and quickly followed by the ICPS.
Artemis I will be an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon in 2024 and establish sustainable lunar exploration by the end of the decade.
See a time lapsed video of the 'stacking' that took place at Kennedy Space Center
Billionaire Sir Richard Branson and his crew flew to the edge of space Sunday (July 11) in the first fully crewed flight from his private space tourism firm, Virgin Galactic.
*************HOWEVER (UPDATED 9/8/2021)************
The Federal Aviation Administration has banned any further flights from Virgin Galactic, pending an investigation, after it was determined that the Unity spacecraft deviated from its planned path for a minute and 41 seconds on a July 11 flight with CEO Richard Branson and three other passengers. The company does not deny the deviation, which was caused by unexpected winds, but says that "at no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory, and at no time did the ship travel above any population centers or cause a hazard to the public."
The Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously supported launch of GPS III Space Vehicle 03, Turksat 5A, and five Starlink missions. Following stage separation, SpaceX NAILED THE LANDING of the Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported Transporter-1 and a Starlink mission, and the other previously flew on SAOCOM 1B and a Starlink mission.
On board this launch are 85 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles) and 3 Starlink satellites. While there are fewer spacecraft on board compared to Transporter-1, this mission is actually launching more mass to orbit for SpaceX’s customers.
After liftoff and a rarely seen southbound trajectory that hugged Florida's east coast, Falcon 9's first stage separated and flipped around for a return to the Cape's Landing Zone 1. The 162-foot booster generated its signature triple sonic booms as it slowed down and crossed the sound barrier.