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Starship is ready for launch, Quantum Space unveils the Ranger OTV, India and China successfully test reusable launch vehicles

Precious Weekly: April 3 — 9, 2023


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Image: SpaceX

Launch Updates

‘Starship is ready for launch 🚀 Awaiting regulatory approval’ [@elonmusk]

🇺🇸Apex to launch its mission “Call to Adventure” with its Aries spacecraft for the first time aboard Transporter 10 in Q1 2024 carrying multiple payloads for a set of undisclosed customers. [SpaceNews] [🚀More info on launch]

🇯🇵Japan’s H-2A rocket launch planned for May gets delayed to August due to the failed flight of H3 rocket. [SpaceNews] [🚀More info on launch]

🇨🇳Space Pioneer launched its first private liquid propellant launcher, Tianlong-2, carrying the remote sensing satellite Ai Taikong Kexue (or “Love Space Science”) developed by Hunan Hangsheng Satellite Technology from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. [Space.com]

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Progress Updates

🇳🇿Dawn Aerospace completed the first rocket-powered Mk-II Aurora spaceplane flight campaign — 3 test flights in 3 days — from Glentanner Aerodrome, Aoraki Mt Cook in New Zealand. The eventual goal is to obtain an orbit capability.  [Dawn’s LinkedIn]

🇵🇱Liftero completes the hot-fire testing of its first green propulsion thruster model, Whisper, for the smallest OTV, Motus, and aims for a full demonstration by Q1 2024. [LinkedIn]

🇮🇳Skyroot successfully completes the 200-second fire-endurance test of its fully 3D-printed ‘Dhawan-II’ cryogenic engine that will power the upper stage of Vikram-2 rocket. [LinkedIn]

🇺🇸Sierra Space postpones Dream Chaser spaceplane’s debut, moving the initial August launch date to closer to the end of the year. [Ars Technica]

🇺🇸Blue Origin has identified a thermo-structural failure of the engine nozzle as the cause of the New Shepard rocket’s malfunction during the NS-23 cargo mission in September 2022. The incident resulted in the destruction of the reusable booster. The capsule’s emergency escape system, however, operated correctly. The company has since been working on modifying the engine design to account for higher-than-anticipated temperatures during flight. Blue Origin plans to re-fly the NS-23 payloads soon. [CNBC] [🚀More info on launch]

🇺🇸ULA’s Vulcan rocket upper stage encounters anomaly during a test that involved an “extreme” structural qualification of a Centaur V upper stage at NASA’s Marshall Center. No injuries reported, and an investigation is in progress. [Tory Bruno’s Tweet]

🇮🇳ISRO successfully carried out the autonomous landing of its Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV LEX) on 2nd April at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in 🇮🇳Karnataka. [TheGeopolitica]

🇨🇳Chinese company CAS Space achieves successful test flight (1000 meters) and vertical landing of a small rocket prototype (93kg) on a sea-based platform. The test demonstrates the potential for rocket stage reusability, akin to SpaceX’s approach. [Gizmondo]



🇺🇸Quantum Space, headed by former NASA acting administrator Steve Jurczyk, unveiled the Ranger OTV. The vehicle can transport over 1.5 metric tons to GEO orbit or 2.5 metric tons to cislunar space and supports various spacecraft sizes (up to 500kg). Quantum Space also plans to build QuantumNet, a fleet of “Scout” spacecraft in cislunar space for various services, deployed by the Ranger OTV. [Via Satellite]

After 15 years of experience in the space sector, Deloitte has now launched a dedicated space practice, Deloitte Space. [Via Satellite]

Reusable rockets builder 🇺🇸Stoke Space has launched Fusion, a software platform that tracks physical hardware throughout its lifecycle. Suppose there’s an issue with a spacecraft. In that case, Fusion helps swiftly identify the creator of the problematic part, its material, and any other parts that could have the same material or similar issues. By selling Fusion externally, Stoke aims to ensure continuous investment and improvement for the software while providing a solution to a widespread industry issue. [Payload]



🇨🇭Astrocast gets $17.5M funding from 🇦🇪Thuraya for its 100 satellite constellation that plans to launch all satellites by 2025. [SpaceNews]

🇮🇹D-Orbit gets contracted by 🇫🇷ESA for €26M under the IRIDE satellite observation program by the Italian government to provide one SAR satellite and manage its flight operations segment. The contract also states an option for an additional SAR satellite worth €24M. [LinkedIn]

🇺🇸Outpost secured a $1.7M DoD contract for developing and testing their Ferry satellite, a capsule engineered to return payloads to Earth safely without atmospheric burn-up. A tech demo is expected to occur in late 2024 or early 2025. [Payload]

🇺🇸True Anomaly, a space security firm, raised $30M, including a recent $17M Series A round. Established in 2022, the company focuses on US space interests. They developed the Jackal Autonomous Orbital Vehicle and plan to use the funding to validate its capabilities and scale production. A tech demo with two Jackals is scheduled for October 2023 aboard Transporter 9 rideshare. [TechCrunch]

🇯🇵 Smallsat manufacturer and EO provider, Axelspace, secures new funding (the sum is not disclosed) and partners with 🇯🇵Space Compass. Axelspace will contribute LEO satellite technology and utilize the optical data relay communication network developed by Space Compass. Additionally, Axelspace forms a business alliance with insurance company 🇯🇵Tokio Marine Holdings to offer space insurance and potentially integrate EO data into insurance products. [Via Satellite]



🇪🇺The Defence Industry and Space opens calls for proposals for in-orbit demonstration and validation of satellites covering aggregation, and if needed, launch services and operations. [EuropeanCommission]


Check out Precious Weekly: March 27 — April 2, 2023


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