Space News Roundup
Slow last week, so this post will be pretty short.
17 October 2018 – Rocket Lab officially broke ground for Launch Complex 2, located at the Wallops Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia, and announced an increased launch cadence in the year to come. The first launch scheduled out of LC2 is in Q3 of 2019.
Later that day, the USAF launched it’s fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V. The AEHF network will replace the older Milstar system, and provide survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications to ground, sea, and air assets of the United States, British, Canadian, and Dutch armed forces.
The Atlas V launched in it’s 551 configuration, meaning it had a 5-meter fairing, 5 strap-on solid rocket motors, and one engine on it’s Centaur upper stage. This launch marks 27 launches by the United States in 2018, trailing China by just one launch.
20 October 2018 – BepiColombo, ESA and JAXA’s joint mission to Mercury, launched onboard an Ariane 5 from French Guiana. This is the second mission to attempt to orbit Mercury, the first being NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft launched in 2015.
BepiColombo, named after the mathematician Giuseppe ‘Bepi’ Colombo, is a three-part probe, consisting of the Mercury Transfer Module for propulsion, built by ESA, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), also built by ESA, and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO, or Mio), built by JAXA.
It will take seven years for BepiColombo to reach Mercury, and this comes after seven different planetary flybys to slow down enough to be captured by Mercury’s gravitational sphere of influence.
22 October 2018 – NASA engineers have mostly resolved Hubble Space Telecope’s gyroscope issues, bringing it’s function gyros back up to 3. Assuming further tests don’t work out, HST can run on just one gyro, keeping another offline to lengthen HST’s lifespan as much as possible. Though this will mean that HST can only scan a smaller fraction of the sky, it will still be able to delivery Hubble-quality science back to Earth.
Date, Time – Mission / Launch Vehicle / Location
24 October, 4:00pm EDT – Lotos-S1 N3 804 / Soyuz-2 / Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
26 October, 4:00-5:30am EDT – Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) / Pegasus XL / L-1011 Stargazer
26 October – Haiyang-2B / Long March 4B / LC-9, Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, China
27 October – Weilai-1 / Zhuque-1 (LandSpace) / Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, China
29 October, 12:08-12:20am EDT – GOSAT 2 & KhalifaSat / H-2A / Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
30/31 October, 8:53pm EDT – Progress 71P / Soyuz-FG / Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan