Connect with us

Aerospace

Richard Branson rockets into space

Published

on

STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS & USED WITH PERMISSION

Richard Branson floats inside the passenger cabin of the VSS Unity rocketplane. Credit: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson rocketed into space Sunday, an edge-of-the-seat sub-orbital test flight intended to demonstrate his company’s air-launched spaceplane is ready for passengers who can afford the ultimate thrill ride.

And it appeared to do just that, zooming to an altitude just above 50 miles and giving Branson and his five crewmates about three minutes of weightlessness and spectacular views of Earth before plunging back into the atmosphere for a spiraling descent to touchdown at Virgin’s New Mexico launch site.

“I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid but honestly, nothing could prepare you for the view of Earth from space,” Branson said after landing, at a rare loss for words. “It was just magical. … I’m just taking it all in, it’s unreal.”

The flight effectively upstaged Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos, who plans a sub-orbital spaceflight of his own aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20 as the two companies compete for passengers in the emerging commercial space marketplace.

Bezos complimented Branson and his team after landing, posting a note to Instagram saying “congratulations on the flight. Can’t wait to join the club!”

Branson’s 90-minute trip began in dramatic fashion as Virgin’s twin-fuselage carrier jet, with the VSS Unity rocketplane bolted under its wing, lifted away from Spaceport America’s runway near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, at 10:40 a.m. EDT.

Joining the globe-trotting billionaire aboard Unity were pilots David Mackay and Michael Masucci, along with Virgin astronaut trainer Beth Moses, flight engineer Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla, the company’s vice president of government relations.

With a throng of reporters and a global audience following along on YouTube and across Virgin’s social media channels, the Virgin mothership — VMS Eve — slowly climbed to an altitude of about 45,000 feet and then, after a final round of safety checks, released Unity high above the New Mexico desert.

Seconds later, Mackay and Masucci, both veterans of earlier test flights to space, ignited Unity’s hybrid rocket motor, slamming the crew back in their seats as the spacecraft shot forward and pitched up onto a near-vertical trajectory.

Burning rubberized solid propellant with liquid nitrous oxide, Unity’s hybrid motor fired for about one minute, accelerating the craft to about three times the speed of sound before shutting down.

The spaceplane continued zooming upward along a ballistic trajectory, giving Branson and company a chance to briefly unstrap, float about the cabin and marvel at the spectacular view as Unity reached its maximum altitude of 53.5 miles, three-and-a-half miles above what NASA and the FAA consider the “boundary” of space.

Live video from inside the spacecraft showed Branson and his crewmates floating free of their seats and enjoying the sensation of weightlessness, not to mention the out-of-this-world view.

“To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars,” Branson said while his cremates cavorted in microgravity. “Now I’m an adult, in a spaceship with lots of other wonderful adults, looking down to our beautiful, beautiful Earth.

“To the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you can do!” he said, before floating out of his seat. A few moments later, the spacecraft then began the long plunge back to Earth.

Using an innovation pioneered by aircraft designer Burt Rutan, Unity’s wing and tail fins are designed to pivot upward 60 degrees once out of the atmosphere, giving the spaceplane the aerodynamics of a badminton shuttlecock, ensuring a belly-down, “care-free” re-entry.

Mackay and Masucci rotated the wing upward shortly after the rocket motor shut down and left it in the “feathered” orientation until it descended to around 55,000 feet when it was pivoted back parallel to the fuselage, turning Unity into a glider.

From there, the pilots guided the spaceplane through a spiraling descent, lined up on Spaceport America’s 12,000-foot-long runway and settled to a picture-perfect landing, closing out a flight that lasted about one hour from takeoff to touchdown.

Mike Moses, Virgin president for space flight and safety, said an initial look at the data showed Unity came through its latest mission in great shape.

“We’ve looked at the data, we’ve done our quick engineering walk around (and) the ship looks pristine, no issues whatsoever,” he said. “We’ll take our time, do all the detailed inspections, and then we’ll figure out when we’re ready to go again. But ship looked perfect.”

NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Space Force agree that space effectively begins at an altitude of 50 miles where the atmosphere is so thin wings, rudders and other aerodynamic surfaces no longer have any effect.

As a result, Branson, Bennett and Bandla are now considered full-fledged Virgin astronauts, a distinction granted to Mackay, Masucci and Moses after earlier test flights.

Sunday’s launching marked Unity’s 22nd test flight, its fourth trip to space, Virgin’s first with a six-person crew on board and the first for Branson, who beat Bezos into space by nine days.

Virgin Galactic and Bezos’ Blue Origin both plan to launch passengers on flights to the edge of space and back and both are in the final stages of test flights before beginning commercial operations.

Branson effectively blindsided Bezos, scheduling Sunday’s flight just ahead of the Amazon founder’s, which had already been announced. But Branson insisted again Sunday that he doesn’t view the competition as a “race” for space.

“I’ve said this so many times it really wasn’t a race,” Branson said. “We’re just delighted that everything went so fantastically well. We wish Jeff the absolute best and the people who are going up with him during his flight.”

Virgin plans two more test flights, but company officials hope to begin launching paying customers, at $250,000 or more per seat, in early 2022. Flush with success Sunday, Branson announced a charity sweepstakes benefitting Space for Humanity, saying two winners will be selected to join one of the initial commercial flights.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/07/11/richard-branson-rockets-into-space/

Aerospace

Accion Systems raises $42 million in Series C to accelerate development of 4th-gen propulsion system

Published

on

Space propulsion developer Accion Systems has closed its most significant funding round yet. The company raised $42 million in a Series C led by Tracker Capital, bringing its valuation to $83.5 million.

Along with the investment, Tracker Capital also acquired a majority stake in the company. This latest injection of capital will facilitate the development and manufacturing of the company’s fourth generation propulsion system, dubbed the tiled ionic liquid electrospray (TILE) system.

The TILE system uses electrical energy to push charge particles (ions) out its back to generate propulsion. While ion engines have been around for decades, Accion uses a liquid propellant, an ionic liquid salt, instead of gas. The liquid is inert and non-pressurized, meaning there’s no risk of explosion. It also results in a product that doesn’t need bulky components like ionization chambers, and an overall smaller and lighter weight system relative to the spacecraft – key considerations in space, where every gram of payload has a high price tag.

“It lets us build really, really small systems,” Accion co-founder Natalya Bailey explained to TechCrunch. “Instead of trying to take an existing ion engine the size of a Prius and shrink it down, we can start with very small systems because of this propellant.” And she does mean small – each thruster tile is about the size of a postage stamp.

The TILE system is also scalable and modular, meaning it could feasibly be used on anything from cubesats to propelling an interplanetary spacecraft, Accion CEO Peter Kant added in a recent interview with TechCrunch. “It’s one of the few occasions where the total addressable market and the actual addressable market that we can serve are pretty closely aligned and almost overlap,” he said.

The newest generation of the TILE system is the same size as its predecessors, but Accion is increasing the number of emitters on a given chip – emitters being the technology that actually shoots out the ions, generating the momentum – by almost tenfold. “We get more ions per area and that gives us a whole lot more thrust with the same amount of space,” Kant said.

Accion is looking to ship the first fourth-gen thruster systems in the middle to late summer of 2022.

The TILE system was developed by Accion co-founders Natalya Bailey and Louis Perna while the two were at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The tech generated a ton of interest from big aerospace companies, but they decided to found Accion in 2014 rather than sell. The company manufactures and assembles its product at its facility in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

The TILE system was onboard commercial spacecraft, one with Astra Digital and one with NanoAvionics, that went up on SpaceX’s Transporter-2 launch at the end of June. Accion started by focusing on serving smaller spacecraft first, like cubesats, but Bailey said that was just the beginning.

“We’re going after that segment initially, and then intending to reinvest our learnings in building larger and larger systems that eventually can do big geostationary satellites and interplanetary missions and so on. The systems that went up on the most recent launcher [is] probably good for a satellite up to about 50 kilograms [. . .] For us, it’s on the smaller end of where we intend to go.”

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/21/accion-systems-raises-42-million-in-series-c-to-accelerate-development-of-4th-gen-propulsion-system/

Continue Reading

Aerospace

Live coverage: Russia set to launch new space station science module

Published

on

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a Russian Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with the Nauka science module for the International Space Station. Text updates will appear automatically below. Follow us on Twitter.

NASA TV

Roscosmos webcast

NASA TV’s live coverage of the launch begins at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) and is in English. Roscosmos’s live video stream begins at approximately 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT) and is in Russian.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/07/21/proton-nauka-launch-mission-status-center/

Continue Reading

Aerospace

Accion Systems gets new owner to scale up propulsion system

Published

on

TAMPA, Fla. — Tracker Capital, a venture capital firm linked to the group that bought hypersonic vehicle maker Stratolaunch, has taken a majority stake in space propulsion startup Accion Systems.

New York-based Tracker Capital acquired 51% of Accion Systems after leading its $42 million funding round, supporting plans to scale up its Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray (TILE) thrusters for larger satellites. 

The investment firm was founded by Stephen Feinberg, the co-founder and co-CEO of Cerberus Capital Management that acquired Stratolaunch in 2019.

Stratolaunch had been developing an air-launch system for lofting satellites before founder Paul Allen passed away, prompting its sale to Cerberus.

The private equity group repackaged the venture and the giant carrier aircraft that underpins it — the world’s largest plane with a wingspan of 385 feet — to serve as a platform for hypersonic vehicles. 

Although Stratolaunch refocused resources on a vehicle called Talon-A that will launch from the plane to test hypersonic systems, it also has plans for a reusable spaceplane.

Tracker Capital is set to represent half Accion Systems’ 10-person board following its Series C funding round, which gives the startup an $83.5 million valuation.

Accion Systems CEO Peter Kant said it has not yet talked to Stratolaunch, but that Tracker Capital sees the propulsion company as a foundational element for its space investments.

“The Accion business model is about moving and navigating anything in space,” Kant said in an interview.

He said its scalable thrusters are coming to the market as the propulsion industry evolves, from being built around how to get satellites into space and then keeping them in a position such as low-Earth-orbit, to today where megaconstellations and servicers are increasing demand for moving objects around in space.

Expansion financing

TILE uses an ionized liquid salt, accelerated by electric fields, to provide thrust that Accion Systems says is safer and more efficient than electric propulsion alternatives.

The thrusters can be flexibly arranged within a spacecraft for applications ranging from a smallsat’s main propulsion to torque balance for larger spacecraft.

TILE can also be arranged to facilitate rendezvous and proximity operations in addition to station-keeping and de-orbit maneuvers.

Kant said its thrusters are currently in orbit on two recently launched spacecraft: two propulsion systems are on a cubesat built by Astro Digital and one is on a NanoAvionics cubesat demonstrating the technology for a NASA program.

He said the two satellites are using TILE 2 and TILE 3 thruster systems, respectively, that are “meant for nano and cubesats” with relatively low thrust needs.

Each Accion Systems thruster chip is about the size of a postage stamp, and the TILE 3 system has 24 of them on its 1U face.

The next-generation TILE, which is the same size as TILE 3 even though it is designed to provide six-times the thrust, is lined up to launch on a spacecraft early 2023 for an undisclosed customer.

That system will support a wider variety of satellites, Kant said, starting from about 50-kilograms to up to 300-kilograms.

Boston-based Accion Systems’ Series C funding round builds on an $11 million Series B round in 2020, co-led by Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Shasta Ventures, which also participated in its $7.5 million Series A in 2016.

“Now that we have the investment capital we need and starting to get the space heritage and experience in space from our current mission, we can really expand into the full vision of the technology and the capability,” Kant added.


PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spacenews.com/accion-systems-gets-new-owner-to-scale-up-propulsion-system/

Continue Reading

Aerospace

Op-ed | Commerce Department, NOAA ensuring U.S. remains a world leader in space commerce

Published

on

The United States has long been a leader in space and will continue to do so. This is why in his first 100 days in office, President Biden renewed the National Space Council, which is led by Vice President Harris, to synchronize the nation’s civil commercial and national security space activities.

As we work collaboratively with industry, it is critical that we ensure the United States sets data driven standards backed by research and advanced policies that bolster our nation’s economic competitiveness and national security to establish peaceful norms and responsible behaviors in space.

To support commercial, civil, and scientific space operations, the U.S. needs the best-possible data to help track the 29,000 space objects in orbit now, and the estimated 50,000 new satellites we expect to see by 2030. Ensuring access to accurate data for space situational awareness is an essential mission for the future of the U.S. space industry.

We at the Department of Commerce and our bureau NOAA take space situational awareness and safety seriously. As experienced satellite operators ourselves, we have a first-hand view of the challenges of an increasingly congested and contested space environment and the need for accurate and accessible data. The uptick in the number of objects in orbit, if not managed effectively, puts billions of dollars of commercial and government satellites and the critical services they provide at risk, and poses a challenge to the growth of the global space industry.

Shortly after receiving congressional funding, we rapidly began developing a space situational awareness prototype that pulls together some of the best available data and services, from both commercial and government sources, into a prototype cloud-based data repository known as the Open-Architecture Data Repository (OADR). The OADR prototype will provide data regarding the location of space objects to improve transparency and promote safety for space assets and operations. This fall, we will start demonstrations of the prototype.

In addition, the OADR will create opportunities for U.S. companies, especially small businesses, to play an innovative role in the commercial space management arena. We incorporated features and source data within the platform targeted to enable industry innovation and development of new space technology advancements.

To be certain, while we have led the development of the prototype, this is not simply a Commerce/NOAA-only effort. We continue to work in collaboration with our commercial, NASA, and Department of Defense partners, leveraging the best available technologies in government and the private sector, and harnessing data sources from across the globe.

In fact, a National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) study specifically identified the Department of Commerce as the agency best positioned to “liaise with private sector and other government stakeholders as well as be able to support the necessary technical and operational requirements inherent in the provision of SSA (space situational awareness) and STM (space traffic management) services.”

This fall, we will have the results, which will lay out procurement strategies, organizational framework, and governance approach for civilian space situational awareness services. The analysis also will include cost, schedule, and risks for possible alternatives and a recommendation to the Commerce Department on a proposed path forward.

With this information, the Commerce Department will propose a strategy for SSA/STM based on the results of our detailed analyses, the results from the prototype demonstrations and community feedback.

The time is now to establish the roadmap for the future national and global principles and practices for operations in space. We remain committed to improving space situational awareness and safety to help address the challenges that lie ahead.


Don Graves is the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department and Dr. Rick Spinrad is the NOAA Administrator and the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere


PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spacenews.com/op-ed-commerce-department-noaa-ensuring-u-s-remains-a-world-leader-in-space-commerce/

Continue Reading
Esports3 days ago

How to reduce lag and increase FPS in Pokémon Unite

Esports4 days ago

Coven skins for Ashe, Evelynn, Ahri, Malphite, Warwick, Cassiopeia revealed for League of Legends

Esports4 days ago

Will New World closed beta progress carry over to the game’s full release?

Aviation5 days ago

And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow

Esports4 days ago

Can you sprint in New World?

Esports3 days ago

How to add friends and party up in New World

Esports3 days ago

How to claim New World Twitch drops

Esports5 days ago

How to complete FUTTIES Alessandrini’s objectives in FIFA 21 Ultimate Team

AR/VR3 days ago

Moth+Flame partners with US Air Force to launch Virtual Reality sexual assault prevention and response training

Esports3 days ago

Twitch streamer gets banned in New World after milking cow

Esports5 days ago

Everything we know about Seer in Apex Legends

Aerospace5 days ago

Boeing crew capsule mounted on Atlas 5 rocket for unpiloted test flight

Esports5 days ago

Evil Geniuses top laner Impact breaks all-time LCS early-game gold record in win over Dignitas

Esports5 days ago

What Time Does League of Legends Patch 11.15 Go Live?

Blockchain4 days ago

Rothschild Investment Purchases Grayscale Bitcoin and Ethereum Trusts Shares

Blockchain4 days ago

Uniswap (UNI) and AAVE Technical Analysis: What to Expect?

Esports4 days ago

Konami unveils Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, a digital version of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG and OCG formats

Esports3 days ago

How to change or join a new world in New World

Esports4 days ago

Team BDS adds GatsH to VALORANT roster as sixth man before EU Stage 3 Challengers 2

Esports4 days ago

Overwatch League 2021 Grand Finals to be held in Los Angeles, playoff bracket in Dallas

Trending