The 2020 Vehicles Quickly Became the 2022 Vehicles, or Worse in Some Cases

The Japanese space agency JAXA told SpaceNews that problems were found with the new LE-9 engine’s combustion chamber and turbopump.

This led JAXA to announce in September that the first flight would slip to some time in Japanese fiscal year 2021, beginning April 1, 2021. The rocket’s second launch likewise slipped to Japanese fiscal year 2022.

Bummer, but not a surprise. Sounds like late 2021 at best, but probably 2022 or later.

This news comes after hearing about the delay of Ariane 6 to 2022 and the recent Vega failure likely delaying Vega C to 2022 at best.

There will be more to say on this for sure, but Loren Grush got a scoop on Orion issues this week, which, combined with the still-in-progress SLS Green Run that will almost certainly uncover something gnarly, likely means Artemis 1 is 2022 at the earliest.

The first Dream Chaser mission has slipped to 2022, which doesn’t necessarily mean bad things for Vulcan, its ride to space. ULA says they will still be flying Astrobotic’s mission in 2021, and apparently they’ll find one other launch to certify Vulcan in time, so maybe Vulcan will be the only 2020 vehicle to launch before 2022.

But then again, from what I’ve heard, Vulcan’s biggest issues are with the BE-4 engines Blue Origin is still working on.

And the knock-on effect there is that Blue Origin’s own New Glenn might be the last of all the aforementioned launch vehicles to make it off the pad.