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Watch live: Soyuz crew to relocate spacecraft to new space station docking port today

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EDITOR’S NOTE: NASA TV’s live coverage begins at 12:15 p.m. EDT (1615 GMT) and will be available on this page.

Two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut are strapping into their Soyuz spacecraft Friday to move the capsule to a different docking port on the International Space Station, clearing the way arrival of a fresh crew next month.

Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov will manually control the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft during the relocation maneuver. Cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will also be aboard the spaceship.

All three crew members launched inside the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft in October, and are scheduled to return to Earth on April 17. The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft has custom-fitted seat liners for each crew member, and all three will be aboard for the relocation maneuver Friday, ready to return to Earth in case of problems reconnecting with the space station.

The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft is set to undock from the space station’s Russian Rassvet module at 12:38 p.m. EDT (1638 GMT) Thursday. Rassvet is located on the lower part, or the Earth-facing side, of the space station’s Russian segment.

Ryzhikov, a 46-year-old former Russian Air Force fighter pilot, will fly the Soyuz spacecraft away from the Rassvet module. After backing away to a distance of about 100 to 130 feet (30 to 40 meters), Ryzhikov will perform a flyaround maneuver around the rear side of the space station to reach a position above the complex around 12:58 p.m. EDT (1658 GMT).

The commander will then guide the Soyuz spacecraft to a manual docking with the Poisk module on the upper part, or space-facing side, of the space station’s Russian segment. Docking is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. EDT (1707 GMT) to wrap up the 30-minute maneuver.

The repositioning will happen while the Soyuz and space station fly around the world at a velocity of roughly 5 miles (8 kilometers) per second.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov, and flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. Credit: NASA/GCTC/Roscosmos

The crew is relocating the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft to clear the way for the next Soyuz mission to dock with the Rassvet module after launching April 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Russian commander Oleg Novitskiy, flight engineer Pyotr Dubrov, and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will launch on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft. Novitskiy and his crewmates will replace the Soyuz MS-17 crew members on the space station before their April 17 homecoming.

Russian officials want the Soyuz MS-18 mission to dock with the Rassvet module, and not Poisk, to allow cosmonauts to use Poisk for a spacewalk later this year to help prepare for the arrival of Russia’s Nauka laboratory module.

The space station’s Poisk and Pirs modules double as docking ports and airlocks for spacewalks. A Progress supply ship that arrived at the station last month will take away the Poisk module later this year to make room for the Nauka laboratory on the lower docking position on the Zvezda service module.

The Nauka lab module is scheduled for launch in July from Baikonur on a Russian Proton rocket. It will be the most significant addition to the Russian part of the space station since 2000, when the Zvezda module itself was launched.

This will be the 19th Soyuz port relocation in International Space Station history, and the first since August 2019.

Ryzhikov, Kud-Sverchkov, and Rubins are currently living on the space station with four crewmates who launched in November aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Dragon commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialists Soichi Noguchi and Shannon Walker will climb aboard their Crew Dragon capsule April 5 to perform a similar port relocation maneuver, freeing up the space station’s forward docking port for the arrival of the next Crew Dragon on April 23.

Unlike the Soyuz relocation, the Crew Dragon will undock and dock automatically, with Hopkins and his crewmates monitoring systems and ready to take manual control if necessary.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/03/19/soyuz-ms-17-relocation/

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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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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/hexcel-joins-ascend-project/

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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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