Rocket Report: finally the SLS is ready, Alpha gets a launch date

Enlarge / The SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft are ready for launch, according to NASA.

Trevor Mahlman

Welcome to Rocket Report 5.08! This weekend I will be heading to the Artemis which I will be launching in Florida on Monday. It’s remarkable that launch day has finally arrived for NASA’s big rocket and a big moment for the space agency, which hasn’t launched its own rocket since 2011, and the space shuttle’s final flight. Here’s hoping all goes well with the launch and flight of Orion to the Moon.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please sign up using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will contain information on small, medium and heavy rockets as well as a quick overview of the next three launches on the schedule.

Firefly sets 9/11 launch date. The Texas-based launch company this week announced the launch window for its Alpha rocket’s second flight. The window for launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California opens at 3 p.m. local Pacific time (22:00 UTC). Alpha’s first test flight, in September 2021, ended in failure 150 seconds into the flight after a problem with one of the rocket’s four main Reaver engines.

A few tiny tags … For its second demonstration flight, Alpha will attempt to launch several satellites into low Earth orbit at an altitude of 300 km. Payloads include a 3U Cubesat for NASA and a 3U Cubesat for teachers in space to collect atmospheric data for the educational community. The launch will be hosted and broadcast by Everyday Astronaut Tim Dodd. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Relativity completes the 20 second test. This week, Relativity chief executive Tim Ellis said the company conducted a 20-second test fire of the first stage of its Terran 1 rocket. In doing so, Ellis said on Twitter that the company remains on track to become the first liquid-oxygen-methane rocket to reach orbit. The company has completed testing on its launch pad at Launch Complex 16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Print your way to spaceThe full video of the test, with sound, is quite excellent, and I recommend watching it. The next step for the company is to complete a full-duration hot-firing test of the vehicle, which is the last major milestone before the rocket’s first launch. Relativity is working in parallel to secure the necessary licenses to launch the rocket, which is capable of lifting more than a metric ton into orbit.

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Canada’s spaceport completes design review. Spaceport company Maritime Launch Services has completed preliminary design review of its Spaceport Nova Scotia project, SpaceQ reports. The spaceport, if completed, would be Canada’s first active launch site in decades and its only current orbital launch site. The Nova Scotia site could support a suborbital launch in 2023, followed by an orbital attempt in 2024, under its current schedule.

Construction will start soon …Stephen Matier, President and CEO of Maritime Launch Services, said the design review encompasses “integration facility, processing facility area, launch pad area , the launch control center, all aspects of transportation and propellant material supply…every aspect of the project is wrapped up in the term.” An access road has already been completed, and construction should begin “immediately”, Matier said. (submitted by JS)

Rocket Report: finally the SLS is ready, Alpha gets a launch date

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