Friday, May 20, 2022

Will SpaceX and Blue Origin Be Beaten to Orbit By a Startup?

As I'm sitting waiting for word that Starliner successfully docked with the ISS...

We've talked about a small startup called Relativity Space before, perhaps first back in 2019 when they secured a good chunk of funds for their development.  Relativity is dedicated to 3D printing their rocket and its engines.

Relativity may have leapfrogged past Starship and the New Glenn to become the first methane/liquid oxygen fueled rocket to get to orbit.  I stress the word may

From this week's Rocket Report:

The California-based launch company announced this week that it has successfully completed a mission duty cycle test for its Terran 1 rocket's second stage, running the full test duration (see video from the company's test stage in Mississippi). Finishing this test means that the company believes that the upper stage, and all of its subsystems, are ready for flight. Relativity Chief Executive Tim Ellis has previously said he is highly confident that the Terran 1 rocket will make its debut launch from Florida this year.

First stage shipping soon? ... The company also announced completion of "acceptance testing" for all nine of the Aeon 1 engines that will power the first stage of the Terran 1 rocket. Then, on Thursday, Ellis subsequently shared a photo showing the first stage undergoing a test firing in Mississippi. "Data review ongoing—all clean and this baby will be shipping to our launch site at Cape Canaveral," Ellis wrote. It now seems possible that the Terran 1 will become the first rocket fueled by liquid oxygen and methane to reach orbit.

My guess is that Starship will be first; unless something goes seriously wrong, Starship seems like it could launch by the end of June or early July.  Terran 1 looks to be later in the year, although it could slip into '23.  New Glenn is officially said to launch by the end of this year.  Nobody believes that, and guesses for the first flight run from mid '23 until Q3 of  '24.  

As I write, Starliner just successfully docked with the ISS.  Originally set for 7:10 ET, it was delayed until 8:28 ET, which seemed to be an ISS issue and not Starliner's. 

The test of the Terran-1's first stage engine, photo by Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis.



14 comments:

  1. Well, to be fair, SpaceX has been launching to orbit for a while, and even reusable boosters and capsules and fairings.

    But, yeah, unless Musk really antagonizes someone in the FedGov, Starship should launch first, and several other Starships will launch before anyone else gets up.

    I really hope that Vulcan makes it soon. It's a good ship with no engines, dammit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, to be fair, SpaceX has been launching to orbit for a while, and even reusable boosters and capsules and fairings.

      "Yes, but" The Merlin 1D engines on the Falcon 9 aren't methane/LOX; they're RP1/LOX. The claim was Relativity could be first to go to orbit on Methane/LOX.

      Delete
    2. True. Still, I think SpaceX will be there first.

      Delete
  2. Did we just break the Russian monopoly on space taxi service?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When Crew Dragon went up with Bob and Doug, it was all over except the whining.

      Delete
    2. And there's been lots and lots of whining. Russian whining is sooo annoying isn't it?

      Delete
  3. Now that we can get to space again, and Russia is bailing out of the ISS, can we slow-roll pushing it to an orbit that's useful for Moon and Mars missions, and tell Moscow to f*** off if they whine about it?

    Getting them to play was why it was put in an otherwise worthless position, IIRC, and since we're about to rename the ISS the same way sports stadiums get renamed, let's push the Tesla/Qualcomm/GE Space Station to somewhere in orbit where it can do useful things, and let Russia go back to whatever they'd be doing without it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The high-inclination orbit was so the Russki's could get there easier, but now that they've told us they're gonna take their marbles and go home, it's past time to put ISS into a more convenient orbit (for US).

      Might take a lot of slow pushing, but it surely can be done, and should be.

      Delete
    2. Except that the ISS has lots and lots of Russian poop attached to it. Modules that have been failing for a while now and are getting worse and worse.

      Time, past time to ditch the Russkie stuff and reconfigure and rebuild the ISS, or the ISS2, so to speak. Even Babylon 5 only lasted a while.

      Space is a harsh environment for fragile Legacy-style modules. It's time, past time, to build better and larger modules and maybe even a real space-wheel station.

      Delete
    3. Boeing is a cautionary tale that NASA will never get there.

      Delete
    4. Harsh, Sam, but nevertheless true!

      Delete
  4. I study nuclear science
    I love my classes
    I got a crazy teacher
    He wears dark glasses
    Things are going great, and they're only getting better
    I'm doing alright, getting good grades
    The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades
    I gotta wear shades

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. [harmonica solo]

      Delete
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqkxd32dbwM

      Delete