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Blue Origin delays first launch of New Glenn to late 2022

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WASHINGTON — Blue Origin is pushing back the first launch of its New Glenn rocket to late 2022, saying it “re-baselined” the development of the launch vehicle after losing a key Pentagon contract last year.

Blue Origin announced Feb. 25 that it has set a new target in the fourth quarter of 2022 for the first launch of the rocket from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The company originally targeted New Glenn’s inaugural launch for 2020, but by early 2020 had delayed it to late 2021.

Jarrett Jones, Blue Origin’s senior vice president for New Glenn, told SpaceNews that the schedule had to be pushed back for technical and financial reasons following the Space Force decision in August to not select New Glenn for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 Launch Services Procurement.

“That was a big hit for us,” Jones said. “We had to consider the economics.”

Blue Origin lost out to United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, who were selected as national security space launch providers from 2022 to 2027. 

Not being selected cost Blue Origin billions of dollars, he argued. Blue Origin in October 2018 won a $500 million Launch Service Agreement deal with the Air Force but the LSA was terminated in December 2020 after Blue Origin received just $255.5 million. Blue Origin estimated that not winning the five-year procurement contract cost the company up to $3 billion in revenue, Jones said. 

Despite the setback, “New Glenn is moving forward,” he said. “It was never a consideration” to not continue developing the vehicle for commercial and civil space customers. “Blue Origin remains committed to New Glenn, and we have the resources aligned to meet our plans.” 

New Glenn will be ready to compete again for NSSL Phase 3 when the next contract goes up for bidding in 2024, said Jones. “We hope to launch NSSL payloads in the future, and remain committed to serving the U.S. national defense mission.” 

After the loss of the Phase 2 contract, Blue Origin “re-baselined” the New Glenn timeline and development plan, Jones said. “We looked at everything that was on the table, including funding and customers, and we put together a high-probability schedule where we put all of our resources and spread out the necessary funding we needed.” 

He cited several developments on the critical path for New Glenn to meet that new launch date, from production of the large propellant tanks for the rocket to radiation testing of its avionics. “I worry about everything,” he said.

The company has completed a qualification version of the seven-meter payload fairing for the rocket, along with a payload adapter, which will be tested later this year at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio. Blue Origin has a first stage simulator in its Florida factory that some observers caught a glimpse of earlier this month. “Within the next couple of weeks, people will start to see that roll around,” Jones said.

The company is also completing new facilities at LC-36, a former Atlas launch pad that Blue Origin took over in 2015. Major construction at the pad is now wrapping up, with system activation and checkouts starting. “The expectation is that next year it will be commissioned,” he said.

That pad alone cost the company $1 billion, part of $2.5 billion in overall investment by Blue Origin in facilities such as the New Glenn factory just outside the gates of the Kennedy Space Center and an engine factory the company completed a year ago in Huntsville, Alabama.

Jones said Blue Origin intends to deliver flight qualified BE-4 engines to United Launch Alliance on time for ULA’s planned maiden launch of its Vulcan rocket late this year. “We’re hot firing regularly and every time you turn around, we’re doing additional tests,” he said. “We have over 11,000 seconds of accumulated test time and we feel confident.”

New Glenn will fulfill its current commercial New Glenn contracts and pursue new civil space launch contracts. The company has previously announced launch contracts with Eutelsat, Mu Space, OneWeb, Sky Perfect JSAT and Telesat, and Jones said the company discussed the revised development schedules with them. “We are still meeting their needs,” he said. “No one is surprised by today’s announcement.”

Blue Origin also intends to position New Glenn to compete with SpaceX in the rideshare market for small satellite launches. “That’s a really big opportunity for us,” said Jones. “We’re doing the development work now to look at the different adapters we need to have for different satellite sizes and for reconfigurable satellites.” 

 

SpaceNews

Source: https://spacenews.com/blue-origin-delays-first-launch-of-new-glenn-to-late-2022/

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Virgin Galactic unveils new spaceship for its growing fleet

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Virgin Galactic has unveiled the company’s first SpaceShip III in its growing fleet, VSS Imagine.

The spaceship showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience. Imagine also demonstrates progress toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term.

VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing colour and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space.

Leveraging a modular design, the SpaceShip III class of vehicles are built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. This third generation of spaceship will lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.

As VSS Imagine begins ground testing, manufacturing will progress on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the SpaceShip III class of vehicles is an important milestone in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.

VSS Imagine is unveiled ahead of VSS Unity’s next test flight, which is planned for May 2021.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, commented: “Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet. VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight. Congratulations to our dedicated team who worked so brilliantly to achieve this milestone.”

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, added: “Virgin Galactic spaceships are built specifically to deliver a new, transforming perspective to the thousands of people who will soon be able to experience the wonder of space for themselves. As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”

www.virgingalactic.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/virgin-galactic-unveils-new-spaceship-for-its-growing-fleet/

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

Hexcel has announced its role within the recently launched UK-based project called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) that will focus on developing high-rate manufacturing and processing technologies that will accelerate the development of new, lightweight advanced composite materials.

The composites company will join lead partner GKN Aerospace and 13 other project stakeholders in a collaboration across the UK supply chain to develop the technologies and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight, more fuel-efficient structures for sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Hexcel will contribute to the ASCEND project framework, developing a new HexPly fast cure prepreg system that will significantly reduce component processing times compared to existing aerospace prepregs.

In addition to its new fast curing prepreg technology, Hexcel’s range of Liquid Composite Moulding (LCM) products will be incorporated into the ASCEND project work packages. The project will use both HiTape advanced unidirectional dry carbon reinforcements and HiMax multiaxial non-crimp fabrics reinforcements.

The ASCEND project will allow Hexcel to collaborate with Tier 1 companies, engineers, tooling specialists, and production equipment OEMs to deliver both prepreg and liquid composite moulding solutions that meet both the performance targets and satisfy the processing requirements for high-rate automated manufacture.

The technical integration enabled by the ASCEND project partnerships will ensure a complete understanding of customer performance and processing needs, coupled with the opportunity to industrialize new technologies utilizing the extensive capabilities of GKN’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

Paul Mackenzie, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Hexcel, said “We are  proud to be part of the ASCEND program, and we look forward to working with other leading companies as we develop processes and materials that help to make the next generation of sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive vehicles possible. This project offers the perfect platform for Hexcel to collaborate and further develop our HexPly, HiMax, and HiTape technologies.”

The ASCEND partners working alongside Hexcel include Assyst Bulmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, DES Composites, FAR-UK, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, The National Composites Centre, Solvay Composite Technologies, Rafinex, and Sigmatex (UK).

Together, the group looks forward to delivering the material and automation innovations that will power more sustainable mobility solutions of the future.

www.hexcel.com

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes extends landing gear kits contract with Magellan

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes division has extended its component supply contract with Canada-based supplier Magellan Aerospace.

Under this long-term contract, Magellan will continue to supply landing gear kits and structural components for Boeing platforms such as the 737, 767, and 777.

The contract extension also shows that Magellan meets Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ cost, quality and performance requirements.

Magellan business development, marketing and contract vice-president Haydn Martin said: “Securing this major business extension for key Boeing platforms is foundational for our New York and Kitchener facilities as the aerospace industry works to recover from the impact of the global pandemic.

“The confidence that Boeing has placed in Magellan is significant and demonstrates our ability to offer our customers comprehensive and reliable solutions.”

For Boeing, the company is using a vertical integration strategy that leverages global resources in Ontario, New York City, and India.

It has also made significant investments across all its facilities regarding manufacturing technology and the workforce to enhance its competitiveness worldwide.

Magellan will deliver these kits and hardware from its facilities in Kitchener, Ontario and New York City, New York. The company will also produce an extra supply of kits to reduce production risk.

Deliveries will be made directly to Boeing’s assembly facilities in Renton and Everett, Washington, US.

Last month, Magellan signed a five-year renewal agreement with Avio Aero to supply magnesium and aluminium castings.

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/boeing-commercial-aircraft-magellan/

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ZeroAvia raises new funding for hydrogen-electric engine development

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Zero-emission aviation firm ZeroAvia has raised $24.3m in new funding to support the development of a 2MW hydrogen-electric engine.

Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Horizons Ventures, an existing investor, led the latest funding round and was joined by new investor British Airways.

Other investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ, also joined the financing.

The financing takes the company’s total private investment to more than $53m while the total funding raised is close to $74m since its formation.

ZeroAvia’s funding comes a few months after the UK Government, through the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK, announced a $16.3m (£12.3m) grant to deliver a 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft in the market by 2023.

The new funding will accelerate the hydrogen-electric powertrain development for a ten to 20-seater regional aircraft.

ZeroAvia aims to commercialise the engine as early as 2024. The company aims to enter the more than 50-seater commercial aircraft segment by 2026.

The funding will also de-risk the company ambition to power a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

ZeroAvia CEO and founder Val Miftakhov said: “This new funding, in conjunction with our other recent milestones, will significantly accelerate our path to zero-emission solutions for larger regional aircraft at a commercial scale.

“With many airlines lining up and ready to make the shift to zero-emissions, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of this technology.”

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/zeroavia-electric-raising-funds/

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