Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the tag “Orbital ATK”

Tally of space launches in last two decades

Falcon 9 liftoff, carrying 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Falcon 9 liftoff, carrying 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Behind the Black has tallied the number of space launches by country and by US company, by year from 1998 through 2016.

Mr. Zimmerman provides the tally at Launch industry trends, based on recent history on 1/11. He provides more observations on the trends in the January 13, 2017 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast.

For a more overall view (and under fair use) I added up the launches from 1998 through 2006 and then from 2007 through 2016. I chose a break of 2007 because that is when Lockheed Martin and Boeing formed their joint venture, United Launch Alliance. Here are the long-term trends:

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Tally of planned launches for 2017

Ariane 5 on pad for VA227 launch. Credit: Arianespace.

Ariane 5 on pad for VA227 launch. Credit: Arianespace.

I’m constantly amazed at the activity in space. Maybe I’m just slow to catch on but there is a lot of work getting stuff into orbit.

Spaceflight 101 reports their tally of planned space shots in their post Spaceflight101 Launch Calendar.

I will modify their tally by adding another 15 launches by China as reported by GBTimes, China to attempt close to 30 space launches in 2017. Behind the Black explains that China is somewhat secretive about their space plans, so they don’t announce all their expected launches.

Previously mentioned the tally of actual launches for 2016.

In other news, Behind the Black reports India considers going to Jupiter and Venus. Their first manned flights are planned for 2024. BtB also reports Arianespace wins two contracts, aims for a dozen launches in 2017. Article guesses that Arianspace is getting these contracts because SpaceX has a backlog longer than their current capacity can deliver timely. Article indicates SpaceX needs to up their launch rate to stay competitive.

So, here is the list of planned launches. I also include the lift vehicle. That data is useful for me in order to keep straight what rockets belong to whom.

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Tally of space launches in 2016

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Here is a list of actual launches in 2016. Next post will describe the planned launches for 2017.

Parabolic Arc – USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016 – Supercool article describes the launch successes and failures in 2016, including a tally of launches by country and life vehicles. Recap of status of all the US players.

I pulled the tally of attempts and successes, including the launch pad failure of a Falcon 9 as an attempt, even though it didn’t get off the ground and thus is not actually an attempt:

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Fun news on the open frontier of space exploration

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

The number of private sector companies working to develop commercial exploration of space is amazing, as is the progress they are making. A few fun articles:

  • Blue Origin’s capsule escape test went well; check out the video
  • Orbital ATK successfully launched a Cygnus capsule on their Antares booster.
  • Lots of companies are working in the small sat market, with lots of competition in all sectors of the open space frontier

10/5 – Popular Mechanics – Blue Origin’s Rocket Test Just Went Better Than Anyone Thought Possible – Blue Origin just successfully completed the crew capsule escape test. The capsule’s emergency rockets fired 70,000 pounds of thrust off angle to the flight of the booster to separate the capsule from the booster.

Speculation on Twitter yesterday is the off angle push would topple the booster and require its destruction.

Instead, the booster survived the capsule’s escape, continued climbing to over 200,000 feet, fell back to earth, and successfully recovered two miles from the launch site.

Astounding.

Check out the video. Jump to the 1:07:00 mark for the launch and escape. Watch another five minutes for the astounding recovery.

Amongst the other fabulous details, keep in mind the camera is tracking the booster at 200,000 feet, down through 100,000 feet, all the way to the ground. Amazing.

10/17 – Space.com – Orbital ATK’s Antares Rocket Returns to Flight with Gorgeous Night Cargo Launch Read more…

Great news on the open frontier, private space exploration edition

Amazing news on the open frontier of private space exploration:

SpaceX recovers another two boosters at sea.

What to do with all those warehoused ICBM boosters?

Another investment in mining asteroids.

5/6 – NPR – SpaceX Lands Falcon 9 on a Barge at Sea (Again) – This is the second successful recovery of a Falcon 9 booster at sea. Another successful recovery was on land. After several failed efforts to recover on a floating barge, SpaceX has two successes in a row. Very cool.

5/27 – Florida Today – SpaceX lands fourth booster after successful Falcon 9 launch – This is the third consecutive recovery of a booster. These three recoveries were on a platform out at sea. One previous recovery was on land.

4/14 – Behind the Black – The history of Falcon 9’s recoverable first stage – Check out this cool video showing the less-than-four-year history of going from the first tiny test by Grasshopper to successful recovery of the Falcon 9 booster at sea:

Robert Zimmerman says:

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Fun news on the incredibly wide open frontier of private space exploration – 1/18

SpaceX Dragon capsule in orbit. Photo by SpaceX released to public domain.

SpaceX Dragon capsule in orbit. Photo by SpaceX released to public domain.

If you want to know why I remain so optimistic for our future even though the national political, geopolitical, and economic news is so depressing, check out the space news I’ve noticed in the last week. As Behind the Black often says, the competition is heating up.

One bit of not-so-great news. From Space.com: Video Shows SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Land on Droneship, Then Fall Over and Explode. The video is here. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 landed almost dead center on the drone floating 200 miles south of Vandenberg. The engine cut off which means it was landed successfully. Then one of the legs gave out, the rocket tipped over, then exploded. Preliminary guess is that something (a lockout collet?) iced over while on the launch pad.

1/14 – Behind the Black – Orbital ATK and SpaceX win Air Force contracts – ULA does not have engines for its rockets and thus must rely on Russian engines to get our military launches into space. Orbital ATK and SpaceX both have contracts to develop new engines.

The obvious story line here that gives me such encouragement is two new-on-the-scene, privately owned space companies have been called in to help the mega-contractor ULA get out of its mess.

Another big contract:

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News from the wide open frontier of space exploration

Cygnus capsule, ready to dock with ISS. Courtesy of Orbital ATK.

Cygnus capsule, ready to dock with ISS. Courtesy of Orbital ATK.

Recently I’ve seen a number of fun articles on space exploration. Here are a few to share: successful resupply launch to ISS after several failures across the industry, competition between spaceplane and reusable boosters, and China developing a new manned capsule.

12/6 – ABC News – Liftoff: 1st US Shipment in Months Flying to Space Station Orbital ATK’s cargo ship launched on top of a ULA Atlas 5 rocket. Cygnus is carrying 7,400 pounds of supplies to the ISS.

Orbital lost a supply run in October 2014, Russia lost one earlier in 2015, and SpaceX lost one in June 2015. Keep in mind that launching rockets into space is the difficult task that is behind the putdown of  ‘it isn’t rocket science’.

12/8 – NASAspaceflight.com – Berthing Complete: OA-4 Cygnus arrives at the ISS the Cygnus cargo ship has been docked at the ISS. Article gives good explanation of the complexity of getting a supply ship to exactly match the orbit of the ISS and the very careful process of trying to close and then grab for docking. Read more…

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