The Space Roundup - Mar 20th, 2022
Hello, hello, my dear space lovers!
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Are you ready for yet another week of space awesomeness? 3, 2, 1, zero! Lift-off!
More helicopter fun!
After a successful 21st flight last week, NASA has extended flight operations of the Mars Helicopter through September. During the second year of missions, it will be supporting science campaigns of the Perseverance rover and also it will continue testing its own capabilities to support the design of future Mars air vehicles. Go, Ingenuity!
SpaceX’s double record!
Yesterday SpaceX crushed two records: it launched its heaviest Falcon 9 payload to date (16,25 tons of Starlink satellites!) and reused a booster for the 12th time. Wow. This booster has been flying for three years already (it was the Demo-1 mission booster!). Amazing
Next ISS crewed missions operated by SpaceX are planned for April 3rd (Axiom-1) and April 19th (NASA Crew-4)
This week we’ve known that several organizations in China are developing new solid rockets to boost overall space capabilities. New rockets capable of sending light payloads to orbit, launching from land or sea, will provide the flexibility and redundancy they need to keep exploring further space. The first one of these new rockets, called Smart Dragon 3, is scheduled to launch for the first time next September.
OrbitFab to refuel military sats
This week OrbitFab (remember “Gas stations in space”?) won a $12 million deal to integrate refueling port with military satellites. This is an important step forward to make all future US satellites refillable in orbit. Imagine the impact this will have! I want to see agreements like this for more and more sats, and the fact they have a standard refueling port (RAFTI) makes their vision achievable. Congrats, OrbitFab!
Mega-rockets in action
This week we’ve seen progress with two big mega-rockets. First, NASA’s SLS rolled out to the launch pad in preparation for a final test before the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon. This final test, the wet dress rehearsal, will determine the launch date. Go, SLS!
Also this week we’ve seen a fully stacked Starship rocket being cryo-tested for the first time. This exact prototype most probably won’t fly, but these tests, kind of rehearsals for the actual flying prototype, are crucial for making sure operations and design are good to go.
Launch(es) of the week
This week it seems we only have a launch.
Tuesday, Mar 22nd - Soyuz 2.1a/Fregat-M | Meridian-M No.20L
And that’s it for this week!
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Cheers from sunny Spain!
Juan, the Curious Astronaut