Hello and welcome to Max Q. Hope all of our Florida readers stayed safe during Hurricane Ian – thinking of you guys. In this problem:
- How the Space Coast prepared for the storm
- Humans: 1, Asteroids: 0
- News from Astra, Firehawk Aerospace and more
By the way… We are a few weeks away from TechCrunch disrupts, which returns live and in person to San Francisco from October 18-20. Use this link to benefit from a 15% reduction on passes (excluding online and exhibition).
Florida’s Space Coast has battened down the hatches in preparation for the arrival of the extremely powerful and slow-moving Hurricane Ian, with officials rolling rockets to the safety of hangars and delaying launches until the storm passes.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) entered HURCON I, indicating that sustained winds of 50 knots are likely within 12 hours. In light of these impending conditions, all non-essential facilities have closed and the majority of staff have been sent home. NASA also made the critical decision to roll back the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft from the launch pad to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Monday, giving employees plenty of time to move safely safety the huge launch system before the storm. Rollback, while indisputably necessary, will affect possible launch opportunities for the Artemis I lunar mission. It seems likely that the next possible launch window will not be earlier than November.
Private companies with facilities on the Space Coast, including Relativity Space, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, also secured their assets in hangars ahead of the storm’s arrival. Two launches – NASA’s Crew-5, which was to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9, and United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch of two SES communications satellites – have also been postponed.
In an update, a NASA spokesperson writing on KSC’s Twitter page tweeted that minimal damage was reported in most operational facilities.
In a major victory for humanity, NASA managed to crash a vending machine-sized satellite into a small asteroid, in what the agency called the “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” (DART). . The target asteroid, Dimorphos, is part of a two-asteroid system; while neither was in danger of hitting Earth, the space agency saw them as an opportunity to test whether we humans could redirect an asteroid that has been targeting Earth. After all, it’s happened before – just ask the dinosaurs.
NASA launched DART last November, using a SpaceX Falcon 9 to send the satellite on its collision course with Dimorphos. The DART spacecraft slammed into the lunar asteroid at a speed of about 4 miles per second Monday evening at 7:14 p.m. ET, with the impact confirmed in a series of images from its onboard camera.
More news from TC…
- astra will no longer send remaining NASA TROPICS payloads into space, but will instead launch other “comparable” science missions for the agency, the company announced Wednesday. The change to the launch agreement comes just over three months after Astra’s first TROPICS launch ended in failure after the upper stage was shut down before delivering the payload to orbit.
- astra also announced the appointment of a new chief financial officer to help the company navigate a new capital market landscape as it seeks to expand its launch and propulsion businesses.
- The FCC passed new rules that commercial satellite operators must ensure their spacecraft are de-orbited no later than five years after the end of their mission, in hopes of reducing the amount of ‘space junk’ in orbit of the earth.
- Firehawk Aerospace developed new rocket engines, a stable solid fuel to power them, and landed millions in new funding to take the company through the next round of tests to its first demonstration launch into the atmosphere.
- SpaceX and Nasa signed a new agreement to study the feasibility of sending a private crew to the Hubble Space Telescope, in order to boost the telescope’s orbit. Such a mission could extend the operational life of the telescope up to 20 years.
- ARK Investan investment firm run by Cathie Woods, used two of its funds to buy about 729,000 shares of Rocket Lab.
- Astroscale The UK subsidiary has opened a new 20,000 square foot satellite manufacturing facility in Oxfordshire which it is calling “Zeus”.
- Bryce Tech released its quarterly launch report, finding that SpaceX launched nearly 500 spacecraft in the second quarter; a Chinese launch company and Rocket Lab tied for second place, launching 36 spacecraft each.
- A congressional subcommittee hotly following the Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation into the anomaly that led to a booster failure on a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket.
- Firefly Aerospace last launch attempt was washed at T-0, and the launcher automatically shut down shortly after ignition. The company is “reviewing the data to determine [its] next launch window.
- Sierra Space is considering a public offering to fund its private space station ambitions.
- SpaceX achieved its fastest launch pad rotation ever, completing two launches in just six days from the same platform.
- world spire received $4 million from the National Oceanographic and Oceanic Administration to fund the development and demonstration of an in-orbit hyperspectral microwave sensor.
- Stellar Link made more than 1 million user terminalsSpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter.
- STOKE Space Technologies won a $1 million grant of the National Science Foundation to test its metallic heat shield technology.
- The National Recognition Office awarded study contracts for commercial radio frequency remote sensing to six companies: Aurora Insight, HawkEye 360, Kleos Space, PredaSAR, Spire Global and Umbra Lab.
- The British space agency awarded two contracts to ClearSpace and Astroscale to demonstrate debris removal in space. The contracts are worth £2.25 million ($2.4 million) and £1.7 million ($1.8 million) respectively.
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