Main Engine Cut Off

ISS Crew Trains For Medical Emergency…Totally Planned Previously, Right?

Mark Garcia, on NASA’s ISS blog:

Cassidy then joined Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner for an emergency drill after lunchtime. The trio practiced CPR techniques necessary in microgravity. The crewmates also reviewed medical hardware, communication and coordination in the event of a medical emergency aboard the orbiting lab.

Probably not a bad idea, because of those positive tests for COVID-19 at Baikonur. Luckily they’ve been up there for a while and all seems fine.

Episode T+156: Sean Mahoney, CEO of Masten Space Systems

Sean Mahoney, CEO of Masten Space Systems joins me to talk about everything they’ve been up to lately, from flights of their terrestrial vehicles out in Mojave, NASA’s Lunar CATALYST program, their recent Commercial Lunar Payload Services task order award, and some other projects like DARPA’s XS-1, the Broadsword engine, and XEUS.

This episode of Main Engine Cut Off is brought to you by 37 executive producers—Brandon, Matthew, Kris, Pat, Matt, Jorge, Brad, Ryan, Nadim, Peter, Donald, Lee, Chris, Warren, Bob, Russell, John, Moritz, Joel, Jan, Grant, David, Mints, Joonas, Robb, Tim Dodd (the Everyday Astronaut!), Frank, Julian and Lars from Agile Space, Tommy, Adam, and six anonymous—and 361 other supporters.

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Episode T+155: Peter Beck on the Pandemic’s Effect on the Industry and Rocket Lab’s Busy Few Months

Peter Beck, Founder, CEO, and CTO of Rocket Lab returns to the show to talk about how the industry is dealing with the pandemic, and to update us on their busy past few months, including their acquisition of Sinclair Interplanetary, flying missions to the Moon and beyond, and their work towards reusability.

This episode of Main Engine Cut Off is brought to you by 37 executive producers—Brandon, Matthew, Kris, Pat, Matt, Jorge, Brad, Ryan, Nadim, Peter, Donald, Lee, Chris, Warren, Bob, Russell, John, Moritz, Joel, Jan, Grant, David, Mints, Joonas, Robb, Tim Dodd (the Everyday Astronaut!), Frank, Julian and Lars from Agile Space, Tommy, Adam, and six anonymous—and 357 other supporters.

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Exolaunch Signs on for SpaceX’s SSO Rideshare

Speaking of rideshares, SpaceX continues to fill that first rideshare flight to sun-synchronous orbit. Debra Werner, for SpaceNews:

German launch services provider Exolaunch announced plans April 14 to send multiple small satellites into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for December.

Exolaunch is not yet saying how many microsatellites and cubesats it will send on the SpaceX mission destined for sun-synchronous orbit.

“We’re accommodating several microsatellites below 100 kilograms and a cluster of cubesats,” Medvedeva said. “These are European and U.S. smallsats coming from our existing and new customers.”

Synspective Switches from Vega Rideshare to Rocket Lab Dedicated Flight

The year was 2016. United Launch Alliance needed to stoke some contracts, because they had fewer payloads to fly than years gone by.

Their solution was RapidLaunch™ and you better not forget to put the TM because their solution was so good people were going to steal the damn name.

The idea was to take available launch vehicles and sell them at a premium to customers that need a ride in a hurry. Maybe they were shifting from a delayed dedicated or shared ride, or maybe they had a replacement or otherwise highly-time-sensitive spacecraft to launch.

The only potential RapidLaunch™ sale I could ever track down was maybe a Cygnus flight for OA-7.

Turns out, talking about your service isn’t enough to make it attractive.

What you have to do is fly consistently and reliably at an affordable price. Customers will notice, and it sure looks like Synspective noticed Rocket Lab:

Rocket Lab said it signed a contract with Synspective to launch the StriX-α SAR satellite on an Electron rocket from New Zealand in late 2020. Terms of the launch contract were not disclosed.

One year earlier, though, Synspective announced a launch contract with Arianespace for the StriX-α spacecraft. At the time, the spacecraft was slated to fly as a rideshare payload on a Vega launch in 2020. That schedule looked to be in doubt, though, because of delays caused by a Vega launch failure in July 2019. The Vega was scheduled to return to flight in March, but that mission has been delayed indefinitely after the closure of the spaceport in French Guiana by the French government due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s pretty rapid.

OneWeb’s Bankruptcy-to-Spectrum Sale Timing Was Not Accidental

Caleb Henry, for SpaceNews, with a paragraph written so well it stopped me in my tracks. A must-read on OneWeb’s bankruptcy and the strategy of its timing with regards to its upcoming spectrum sale:

OneWeb’s primary spectrum filings cover Ku-band frequencies for downlinks and Ka-band for uplinks for a constellation of 720 satellites in low Earth orbit. The company brought that spectrum into use with the International Telecommunication Union, and passed the agency’s 10% milestone last month when it launched 34 satellites on an Arianespace Soyuz days before filing for bankruptcy.

Cut and run once the spectrum asset was sufficiently attractive. If Amazon doesn’t jump at this sale, I’d be shocked.

Episode T+154: Tim Ellis, CEO and Cofounder of Relativity

Tim Ellis, CEO and Cofounder of Relativity joins me for an in-depth discussion about Relativity’s status and work towards their first launch. We cover everything from their company vision, funding, new headquarters, wider fairing, customer backlog, potential west coast launch site, and dive into the details of Stargate and Relativity’s materials work.

This episode of Main Engine Cut Off is brought to you by 37 executive producers—Brandon, Matthew, Kris, Pat, Matt, Jorge, Brad, Ryan, Nadim, Peter, Donald, Lee, Chris, Warren, Bob, Russell, John, Moritz, Joel, Jan, Grant, David, Mints, Joonas, Robb, Tim Dodd (the Everyday Astronaut!), Frank, Julian and Lars from Agile Space, Tommy, Adam, and six anonymous—and 354 other supporters.

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Masten Wins Commercial Lunar Payload Services Task Order, Heading to the Moon in 2022

The $75.9 million award includes end-to-end services for delivery of the instruments, including payload integration, launch from Earth, landing on the Moon’s surface, and operation for at least 12 days. Masten Space Systems will land these payloads on the Moon with its XL-1 lander.

NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program continues to be the best thing to come out of the renewed focus on the Moon. Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines are still working towards their launches for the program, and now Masten gets to be a part of this.

I’m so thrilled for Masten. I’ve long admired their work, and it’s wonderful to see them become part of a quick moving, big budget, and prestigious program like CLPS. I really hope they shine with XL-1 and can use that momentum to push themselves with bigger and better vehicles.

XL-1 will be carrying some interesting payloads, too, including Astrobotic’s MoonRanger rover, and SAMPLR:

Sample Acquisition, Morphology Filtering, and Probing of Lunar Regolith (SAMPLR) is a robotic arm that will collect samples of lunar regolith and demonstrate the use of a robotic scoop that can filter and isolate particles of different sizes. The sampling technology makes use of a flight spare from the Mars Exploration Rover project.