May 26, 2022

This week, Max Q once again highlighted Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the resulting halo effect on the international space industry. Neither private companies like OneWeb nor national space programs escaped the brunt of the conflict. Perhaps most importantly for the space sector, the Russian invasion is destroying decades of cooperation, and there are no signs that things will change anytime soon.

Russia is threatening and taking action in response to the tightening of global sanctions, and last month we talked about the fact that the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, issued vague and ominous warnings about operating the ISS without Russian participation. This week, Rogozin came up with another memorable phrase when he stopped deliveries of rocket engines from Russia to companies in the United States.

“Let them fly on something else, on their own broomstick, I don’t know what,” Rogozin said on state media.

It may come as a surprise to more casual space enthusiasts that Russian engines are actually still used in US rockets, including the Atlas V ULA and Antares Northrop Grumman. But sure enough, at some point ULA saw this opportunity and contracted Blue Origin to supply rocket engines for their next-generation Vulcan launch vehicle. In particular, the launch and propulsion market has changed so drastically that the halving of Russian space assets hasn’t been as hard of a blow as it was a decade ago, though BryceTech analyst Phil Smith told SpaceNews.[put] Some clients down. ,

image credit: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA

The halt continues. French aerospace company Arian Space announced that he would suspend launches of Soyuz rockets in accordance with “sanctions adopted by the international community.” At that time, One WebThe British satellite manufacturer and operator said it would stop using the Soyuz because it refused to surrender. Russian demand He guarantees that his satellites will not be used for military purposes.

One reason the US and NASA are almost independent of Russian missiles and rocket technology is the Commercial Crew Program, under which NASA was looking for two new sources to get astronauts to and from the ISS. SpaceX has successfully completed NASA’s rigorous human flight test program and is now offering said service (while another contract-winning Boeing is underway but with a few bumps in the road).

NASA announced last week that it had officially extended its commercial crew contract with SpaceX, adding three more missions to the existing agreement, totaling $900 million.

SpaceX Crew Dragon on the launch pad

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon on the launch pad for the Crew 3 mission. image credit: SpaceX

in political news After Congress spends $1.5 trillion, NASA will receive $24 billion in funding for fiscal year 2022. (See Planetary Society funding for more details.) Specifically, it includes $1.19 billion for the agency’s Human Landing System (HLS) program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon for the first time since the Apollo era. HLS made headlines earlier this year when NASA awarded the same contract to SpaceX to develop the lander. Competitors, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dianetics, filed complaints with the government’s sole prize oversight body; After this was rejected, Blue went so far as to sue NASA in federal court.

But there may still be hope for these competitors – lawmakers call NASA “safety, redundancy, stability and competition“(emphasis mine) in the program.

Another opening of Astra

AstraSpace released a preliminary report on the company’s rocket launch in February that resulted in a total payload loss. It was Astra’s first mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida (all launches so far have been from the company’s Kodiak, Alaska spaceport), and the first rocket to carry a customer payload. Everything didn’t go according to plan.

According to Astra’s senior director, the launch failure was due to two causes, according to the company’s preliminary findings: a problem with the fairing separation mechanism, which resulted in non-nominal phase separation, and a software problem with the top engine. . Mission Management and Insurance, Andrew Griggs. He added that the company has already implemented new controls to ensure that such mistakes do not happen again. “Through continued iteration and extensive testing, we were able to demonstrate that the changes eliminate the failure modes seen in LV0008 and make the software suite more reliable.”

“Once the root cause has been identified and corrective actions taken, we look forward to returning to the launch pad soon with LV0009 – stay tuned!” she added.


In other news…

  • China A government official said he is opening his space station to commercial customers. This year, the country intends to complete the construction of the Tiangong space station.
  • Hermes, a startup developing a hypersonic aircraft capable of flying at Mach 5, has raised a $100 million Series B led by Sam Altman and with contributions from the Founders Fund and In-Q-Tel. According to the Herms website, Herms plans to develop a passenger aircraft by 2029.
  • satellite logic, A startup company publicly traded through SPAC has partnered with Astraea to provide observational data to the Ukrainian government and its partners.
  • satisfy Listed as a result of a merger with Endurance Acquisition Corp. With a blank check. The deal will value the Israeli satellite communications equipment company at $813 million.
  • Aerospace catapult raised $25 million in part 2 Series A led by Draper Associates and ATX Venture Partners. The startup aims to create a digital landscape of space in real time and use situational awareness to reduce the likelihood of orbital collisions and other risks.
  • SpaceX Starlink on Wednesday launched a new batch of satellites that already includes 48 massive broadband spacecraft.
  • canceled its merger with Pine Technology Acquisition Corp. Yesterday, CEO Shimon Elkabets said: “Both our strategic initiatives and general market conditions have made it clear that the best option for the company and its broader growth is to remain private for now.” Tomorrow, the weather information platform will generate up to $450 million in gross revenue and a $1.2 billion valuation.

The Soyuz spacecraft is being prepared for launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. image credit: Vladimir Zapletin/Getty Images.

Max Q was introduced to you this week by me, Aria Almalhodey. I’m back at the top after a long break. Thoughts, comments and suggestions [email protected] you can send to you can also find me on twitter @ bread outSee you next week.

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