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Zoom in / The image was taken from the Hakuto-R spacecraft after it separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage, which can be seen at right.


Welcome to Rocket Report Edition 5.21! This is the latest edition of the 2022 Missile Report. I’ll be taking about 10 days off for vacation this year, so the next newsletter won’t be out until January 5th. The good news. Ars and I have big things planned for space coverage in 2023, so stay tuned for announcements on that. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a nice holiday season.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form won’t appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small, medium and heavy missiles, as well as a quick look at the next three launches on the calendar.

It’s almost time to recharge the Electron!. After more than two years of delays, NASA and Rocket Lab are finally ready for the first Electron launch from Wallops Island, Virginia, on Friday, Space News reports. The latest delays were due to Thursday’s bad weather forecast and then the need for it close the final documents. The release is now scheduled for no earlier than Sunday, December 18. The mission will put into orbit three satellites for HawkEye 360, which operates a constellation of radio frequency surveillance spacecraft.

What does the F stand for in FTS anyway? … The main delay was due to a new autonomous flight termination system required for Electron launches from Wallops. David Pierce, director of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, said the final safety certification of NASA’s Autonomous Flight Termination Unit was initially planned to support the first launch from Launch Complex-2 in mid-2020. But during final software checks, engineers found many bugs in the code. After all, Rocket Lab wants to launch the Neutron rocket from Virginia. (submitted by Ken Bean)

Who’s ready for Blue Origin Space Rangers?? Variety reports that the production company, co-founded by Michael Strahan, who flew into space aboard New Shepard in December 2021, is working with Blue Origin to develop an animated space adventure series for children. It will be called Blue Origin Space Rangers. Stop laughing. I’m being serious here.

Will Amazon Prime be coming soon? … The show will include appearances by the animated Jeff Bezos as well as former NFL star Strahan. It might make it worth setting up, at least once. According to the producers, the show will “create multiple touch points for children and families to explore, learn and deliver a unique space experience.” I’ll try to be positive and say it’s great to try to get kids interested in STEM. But I certainly hope this doesn’t detract from all the other work on Blue Origin’s plate.

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After another delay, the ABL slips into January. Earlier this month, ABL Space Systems provided a clear and detailed update On his many attempts to launch the RS1 rocket from Kodiak, Alaska. (This kind of transparency is much appreciated.) Then, on Dec. 8, the company tried again, only to notice “unexpected electrical interference in our avionics system” just before the launch attempt.

Time required for corrections … “The problem only manifested itself during live engine operation, not in a dry test car or in the lab. This indicates a thermoelectric or thermomechanical root cause,” the company says. announced on Twitter. “The team is making fixes and working towards a launch test in time for our next launch window on January 9th.” Best of luck to ABL as it continues to build towards the debut of the RS1.


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