Welcome to Edition 5.05 of the Rocket Report! Don’t look now, but we could be fewer than four weeks away from the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. I have covered this booster for a dozen years and I’m so ready for this to finally happen. I’ve got plenty of coverage planned in the weeks ahead.
As always, we welcome reader submissions , and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.
Georgia spaceport sues to force land sale . First Camden County citizens voted overwhelmingly against a proposed spaceport in southeastern Georgia. Then, the owner of 4,000 acres sought by the spaceport proponents said it would end an agreement to sell the land to backers of the Spaceport Camden project. Even so, Camden County commissioners refuse to give up the dream of building a spaceport that local residents don’t want, and for which the land owner doesn’t want to sell. So they’ve taken the land owner, Union Carbide Corporation, to court, News4Jax reports .
Ignoring the voters … Last month, in a statement, Union Carbide said, “As a result (of the election), there is no longer an Option Agreement in existence between the County and UCC, and UCC does not intend to convey the property to the County pursuant to the prior Option Agreement.” In filing the lawsuit, Steve Howard, Camden County’s government administrator, wrote, “Union Carbide most certainly has a contract with Camden. The County has indicated that it is ready, willing, and able to close. We expect Union Carbide to honor its contractual commitments.” At some point you have to wonder why local officials are so hellbent on building this spaceport. (submitted by zapman987 and Ken the Bin)
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Solid rocket debut a success . Chinese launch services provider CAS Space successfully placed six small satellites in orbit early Wednesday with the first launch of the Lijian-1 solid rocket, Space News reports . Lijian-1 is now the largest operational Chinese solid launcher, and CAS Space is also developing larger rockets. The 30-meter-tall Lijian-1 rocket can carry 1,500 kilograms of payload into a 500-kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit.
Derivative designs … CAS Space is a quasi-commercial spinoff from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The parent, CAS, develops a range of spacecraft, including Beidou satellites, and has previously launched sounding rockets. Although Wednesday’s orbital launch marks a big step forward, solid rockets appear to be only the start of CAS Space’s ambitions. The company is also working on reusable liquid engines with the goal of developing recoverable launchers. A new website unveiled by the company recently shows launch vehicle renders similar to Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and New Shepard launchers. (submitted by EllPeaTea and Ken the Bin)
US companies complete August 4 launch-a-palooza . Thursday was quite a day for US launch providers. Starting at 05:00 UTC, Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle launched the NROL-199 mission into low Earth orbit for the US National Reconnaissance Office. Then, at 10:29 UTC on Thursday, United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket sent a Space Based Infrared System satellite into orbit for the US Space Force. Finally, at 1337 UTC, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launched the NS-22 suborbital space tourism mission.
Next up, SpaceX … Thursday evening the focus turned toward SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket, which was due to launch the Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter spacecraft to the Moon. The rocket launched at 23:09 UTC from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and was successful. I cannot recall a time when four different US rockets launched during the same calendar day, but this probably won’t be the last time, given all the development of new US boosters, large and small. We truly are entering an era of launch abundance. (submitted by EllPeaTea and Ken the Bin)
- SpaceX launched the most powerful rocket on Earth today — and shot Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster toward Mars
- SpaceX launched its biggest and most powerful rocket ever — here are Falcon Heavy’s impressive stats
- SpaceX gets approval from NASA to test astronaut capsule in Saturday launch
- North Korea rocket site appears 'operational' again, say US experts
- Elon Musk is about to name the first person to fly around the moon in a giant new SpaceX rocket ship
- Astronauts explain why nobody has visited the moon in more than 45 years — and the reasons are depressing
- Elon Musk just revealed who will fly to the moon on SpaceX’s new rocket ship
- Elon Musk is about to name the first tourist to fly around the moon — watch SpaceX’s announcement live
- Corrected: Japan fashion guru Maezawa lands first SpaceX moon flight
- Japan lunar exploration firm to head for moon on SpaceX rockets
- This imaginative drawing liked by Elon Musk reveals just how crazy SpaceX’s first missions to Mars will be
- Fly me to the Moon? A look at the space-tourism race
- SpaceX is quietly planning Mars-landing missions with the help of NASA and other spaceflight experts. It’s about time.
- Indonesia launches first internet-only satellite with SpaceX rocket
- Elon Musk hints at plans after unveiling SpaceX Starship test rocket
- Mike Pence pledges a U.S. return to the moon within five years
- SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launch baffled people with an eerie light show in the sky above Southern California
- China launches rover for first far side of the moon landing
- Elon Musk's SpaceX seeks US$500 million loan via Goldman: Bloomberg
- US says North Korea diplomacy 'very much alive' but watching rocket site
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