Rocket Report: Stunning view of Falcon 9 landing, Down Under spacewear suit

Enlarge / Vulcan Centaur, the United Launch Alliance’s next-generation rocket, lifts off in this artist’s rendering.

United Launch Alliance

Welcome to Rocket Report 5.14! There’s a lot of little rocketry news to digest this week – from Japan to Washington to Australia, and back again. You should feel free to take your time reading it, as I will be off work next week on a book project. Thank you for your patience.

As always, we Reader Submissions Welcome, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please sign up using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP 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.

Virgin Orbit could ask for more funding. Last December, when small satellite launch company Virgin Orbit went public through a special-purpose acquisition company, it set a goal of raising $483 million. However, the company only raised $228 million. So now, months later, Virgin Orbit appears to be looking to raise additional capital, the London-based company City AM Publishing Reports.

Target a LauncherOne flight in November … Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said the launch company continues to receive financial backing from the Virgin Group, but may seek more funding after the SPAC result. “We continue to have good support from them, but we are looking to be opportunistic in the market,” he said. “So we will be looking to seek capital as we move forward.” Hart made the comments as Virgin Orbit prepares for its first launch from the UK later this year.

Stoke Space unveils ambitious plans. In a feature film, ARS reports on the path Washington-based Stoke Space has taken over the past three years since its founding by two former Blue Origin propulsion engineers. Stoke aims to develop a fully reusable two-stage rocket with a lifting capacity of just over 1.5 metric tons to low Earth orbit. Last month, the company began testing its upper-stage engines at a plant in Moses Lake, Washington. Images and video show an intriguing looking ring with 15 discrete thrusters firing for several seconds.

Build a hopper … The circular structure measures 13 feet in diameter, and this original design is Stoke’s answer to one of the greatest challenges of bringing a second stage out of orbit. As he seeks to protect the upper stage engine during reentry, Stoke plans to use a ring of 30 smaller thrusters. In a vacuum, the plumes from these nozzles are designed to merge and act as one. And on reentry, with fewer small thrusters firing, it’s easier to protect the nozzles. The next step for the company, in the first half of 2023, is a series of jump tests for a second-stage prototype.

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Epsilon rocket fails on sixth flight. A Japanese rocket failed in a launch attempt on Wednesday, with the country’s space agency ordering the Epsilon launch vehicle to self-destruct just minutes after liftoff as it veered off its intended path, Mainichi’s Reports. The development marked the Japanese Space Agency’s first rocket launch failure since November 2003, when an H2A rocket was deliberately destroyed shortly after liftoff. This new accident dealt a blow to JAXS which seeks to sell commercial satellite launches on Epsilon.

Seek to restore trust … The space agency didn’t provide much additional information about the crash, which appears to have happened after the rocket’s second stage shut down. It is possible that the third stage motor did not fire. JAXA Chairman Hiroshi Yamakawa said it was undeniable that the blunder would affect various plans, but stressed that the agency would “do everything possible to restore confidence” in it. The agency is set to launch its new flagship H3 rocket in fiscal year 2022 (which ends next March), having already been delayed twice before, as well as an upgraded Epsilon model which is expected to lift off in the next fiscal year. fiscal year 2023. (submitted by puni, tsunam, and Ken le bac)

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