Max Q: Hold fire

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Hello and welcome back to Max Q.

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In this release:

  • The launcher is a 3D printed rocket engine with full thrust
  • “Sustainable” satellite mega-constellation?
  • FAA Decision on Starbase Postponed Again
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Launcher shows off its 3D printed rocket in full

Launcher has demonstrated the full thrust of its 3D printed E-2 engine from NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The test demonstrated a thrust of about 22,046 lb⋅ft (about 10 metric tons) using LOX/kerosene at a combustion pressure of 100 bar.

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Although they are still a long way from reaching orbit, a successful test like this is a huge step towards a working launch vehicle. Launcher Light will be small and very efficient, with the goal of low cost to orbit and fast completion times. But of course, it needs working engines first.

This is just one milestone among many futures for the engine; in parallel, the turbopump is tested with the required pressure of 3 times the nominal combustion pressure. These will be integrated after individual testing, and the resulting integrated engine will begin its own testing phase.

Check out the test below:

Greg Wyler’s new startup wants to launch a ‘sustainable’ satellite megagroup

Are mega-constellations of satellites incompatible with cleaning up space debris in low Earth orbit? OneWeb founder Greg Wyler doesn’t think so. His new venture, E-Space, seeks to reconcile the two by launching a mesh satellite communications network made up of spacecraft that will also pick up small debris before deorbiting at the end of their lives.

“When we talk about building 100,000 satellites or more [ … ] we’re watching closely to make sure we’re significantly, hundreds of times, less significant and basically in the noise in terms of impact probability,” Wyler said. “So while we have more satellites than anyone else, we have a marginal increase in the likelihood of a collision.”

Image credits: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

FAA delays decision on SpaceX space base again

In news that surprises no one, the FAA has postponed an environmental review of SpaceX’s sprawling Texas launch facility and its Starship program until at least May 31, the fourth time the agency has pushed back its own deadline.

SpaceX cannot conduct orbital tests of the super-heavy reusable Starship launch vehicle until it is given a regulatory green light. The FAA has been working on a programmatic environmental assessment since November 2020 and has received over 18,000 public comments on the project.

“The FAA is working to release the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy on May 31, 2022,” the agency said in a statement. “SpaceX has made several changes to its app that require additional FAA review.”

Starship SpaceX Starbase

Image credits: SpaceX

More news from TC and more

  • Adranosa startup developing next-generation solid-fuel engines has shut down $20 million Series A round. The company “produces solid propulsion systems for hypersonic boosters, tactical missiles, space launch vehicles and other platforms.”
  • Axiom of Space The Ax-1 crew returned safely to Earth on Monday after a 15-day stay on the International Space Station, completing the world’s first fully private mission to the station.
  • Chapel Spacewhich operates a small constellation of satellites equipped with synthetic aperture radar, raised $97 million in Series C fundingwith NightDragon leading the round, with existing investors DCVC and Cota Capital also contributing.
  • China will install a communication and navigation system for the Moon, and the first launch of the constellation will take place in 2023 or 2024, Chinese officials said.
  • This space signed a contract Sollensis to implement space cybersecurity built on blockchain. Eta is developing cryogenic fuel stores in space that can be used to refuel spacecraft.
  • Hawkeye 360 and the National Space Safety Association took the initiative request funding for humanitarian assistance to Ukraine from the space industry, with 16 companies including Relativity and Rocket Lab agreeing to make a one-time contribution of $50,000.
  • NASA completed alignment checks on the James Webb Space Telescope. The telescope will now move on to the final stage of preparation, called commissioning of the scientific instrument, which will take about two months before work begins in the summer.
  • Northrop Grumman expects more than $2 billion in solid-fuel booster orders from United Starter AllianceNorthrop CEO Kathy Worden said during a phone call about first-quarter earnings and losses.
  • Rocket Factory Augsburg won €11 million ($11.7 million) from the German Aerospace Center in the Center’s microlauncher competition. This was the second and last round of the competition. (Isar Aerospace won the first round.)
  • SpaceX launched Crew-4 on Wednesdaywho successfully delivered a new batch of astronauts to the ISS. This is the fourth manned mission that SpaceX has conducted on behalf of NASA.
  • starlink approaching its first major airline. Hawaiian Airlines said he will offer Wi-Fi aboard Starlink aircraft, although details are not yet known.
  • Crossbow systems closed $27 million Series A in anticipation of static fire tests of its solid rocket engine, dubbed the Ballesta. The round was hosted by Crosslink Capital and Razor’s Edge Ventures with participation from Lockheed Martin Ventures and Broom Ventures.

Photo of the week

NASA persistence

Image credits: NASA

Ingenuity, the NASA helicopter currently flying around Mars, took this amazing photo of the chassis the Perseverance rover used to land on the red planet last February. As Erin Gibbons put it on Twitter: “Space debris crash landed in another world filmed by aerial drone. What time scale are we living in?

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