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Rocket Report: SpaceX Fires Up Seven Raptors; SpinLaunch raises a large round of financing

Enlarge / ArianeGroup is seeking European funding to develop a reusable third stage for its launch vehicles.

ArianeGroup

Welcome to the 5.11 issue of Rocket Report! Apologies for the lack of a report last week, but I was on a task with the crew of the upcoming Polaris Dawn mission. The advantage is that this week’s edition is very long, with 2500 words.

As always, we Welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss out on any issues, sign up 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 payload rockets, as well as a quick look at the next three launches on the schedule.

SpinLaunch raises $71 million. The company developing a launch system that uses a centrifuge as the first stage announced this week that it has raised $71 million. space news reports. This brings the total funding secured by the company to $150 million, enabling it to develop a system that accelerates vehicles to hypersonic speeds. After the vehicles are, for lack of a better word, yetted upwards use conventional rocket motors to get into space. SpinLaunch says this approach can enable much higher flight speeds than conventional rockets while being more environmentally friendly.

Building a bigger centrifuge … SpinLaunch built a smaller version of its centrifuge at Spaceport America in New Mexico, 33 meters in diameter, for suborbital tests. The company plans to begin orbital launches with a much larger, 100-meter-wide accelerator as early as 2026, and the new funding will presumably bring it closer to that goal. I’m interested to see if this approach works as it is technically feasible. However, the challenges ahead for the company are significant. (hosted by Ken the Trash Can)

European Launch CEO Criticizes Startups. In an interview with L’Echo, André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of Ariane Group, Europe’s institutional launch developer, took aim at the many launch start-ups across Europe, denouncing the fact that these companies were taking resources away from Ariane. Roussel seemed to be targeting German microlauncher companies Rocket Factory Augsburg, Isar Aerospace and HyImpulse in particular, although he did not name them directly, the Newsletter reports Europe in space.

Bring nothing to the table? … Roussel complained that these companies were duplicating what was already being done at launch and that by supporting these companies, Europe was fostering competition that brought “nothing” in terms of innovation. Frankly, this is a really lousy attitude towards competition, and if I’m being honest, it’s hard not to root for the upstarts against the established industry.

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Some Concern in the Michigan Spaceport Conversation Is Sheer Exaggeration. After three years and $2.5 million in public dollars to study the creation of a spaceport in northern Michigan, some state officials are concerned about the lack of progress. Michigan Bridge Reports. The state is still awaiting a final report from the Michigan Launch Initiative, a part of the nonprofit Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association, which received $2.5 million to study building launch sites. Concerns center on project leader Gavin Brown, who said he got the contract in 2019 after privately proposing to the former governor. Rick Snyder at the end of his administration.

Announcement soon? … State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) questioned whether Brown overpromised what he can deliver. “For me, the most important thing is that people get value for their investment,” Irwin said. “Now it has produced [work] that doesn’t seem worth $2.5 million.” Brown remains optimistic, telling the publication he will prove critics wrong and hinting that a big announcement is coming soon. This echoes cautionary tales we’ve heard elsewhere. states that were promised great riches from the new spaceports.

Skyrora will launch from Canada. Skyrora based in Scotland announced this week that it would launch its Skyrora XL rocket from a spaceport under development in Nova Scotia by Maritime Launch Services. The three-stage rocket is designed to lift a maximum of 350kg into low-Earth orbit, and Skyrora successfully completed a hot static fire test second stage at Machrihanish airbase in Scotland in August.

A transatlantic partnership … As part of the agreement, Maritime Launch will purchase Skyrora’s vehicles and vehicle support personnel for its satellite customers. Spaceport Nova Scotia will provide Skyrora with a launch pad, ground support and operations, public safety services, regulatory approvals, and mission integration facilities and personnel. There is a lot of work to do, but good luck to both of you. (submitted by JS)

PLD Space approaches suborbital test. A Spanish company developing a small launch vehicle says it is ready to proceed with a suborbital mission launch after completing a static-fire test. PLD Space conducted a 122-second test of its Miura 1 rocket on September 15 at the company’s facilities in Teruel, Spain. space news reports. That shot, called a full mission test, came after two previous static-fire tests lasting 5 and 20 seconds. The series of tests confirmed that the vehicle is ready for a real flight.

A springboard to orbit … With the static fire test campaign complete, PLD Space is ready to proceed with the first flight of the suborbital vehicle. That launch is scheduled for December from the El Arenosillo site in southwestern Spain. “Our plan is to make two test flights,” said Raúl Verdú, director of operations. PLD Space has announced the Miura 1 as a sounding rocket that can carry 100 kilograms to an altitude of 150 kilometers, generating up to four minutes of microgravity. Verdú said the main goal of Miura 1 is to demonstrate the technology for its Miura 5 orbital launch vehicle under development. (hosted by Ken the Trash Can)

Revisiting the 2014 SpaceShipTwo accident. On Medium, an author who analyzes plane crashes recently drew attention to the fatal Virgin Galactic crash eight years ago. On October 31, 2014, an experimental space plane operating for Virgin Galactic abruptly disintegrated at an altitude of almost 17 km during a test flight, scattering debris over a vast area of ​​California’s Mojave Desert. Although one of the two test pilots was killed, the other remarkably survived, parachuting to safety against all odds.

Falling below the stars … The destruction of the VSS Business and the death of one of its pilots promised to be a major setback for the commercial spaceflight industry, then, as now, in its infancy. I included this article in Rocket Report not to disparage Virgin Galactic, but because it’s an excellent after-the-fact analysis, complete with sobering photos. It is a reminder of the challenges in this industry that we are all following so avidly.


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