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Spacecraft, Launch Vehicles & Satellites
THE END OF ROCKOT?
Thursday, April 2, 2020
PLESETSK, Russian Federation -- December 2019 saw the last launch of a Rockot rocket.

Based on the SS-19 (NATO code name Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) taken out of service, the Rockot features two liquid propellant stages powered by a mixture of nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH), and a booster stage called Breeze (or Briz).

Despite reports that claim the Rockot is finished, there are other reports that contradict this claim. Nasaspaceflight.com stated in an article that, "Following Friday’s launch, two more Rokots remain available to fly before the type is replaced by the Soyuz-2-1v and Angara." That was written August 30, 2019. Since then there has been a launch of a Rockot, thus leaving one more for a launch.

Rockot-2 is another launch vehicle that has seen mention in articles. Although sources are very scarce, reportedly a Rockot-2, light carrier rocket, is in the works. Its design and layout is unknown but its control system will be entirely Russian-made. Rockot has a Ukrainian-made control system which, due to soured relations between the two countries, is not available to Russia.

With one Rockot spare and the possibility of a new Rockot-2, use of this launch vehicle might reach into the 2020s.

Source:  Forecast International
Associated URL: forecastinternational.com
Author: C. Palmer 

 
NASA’S JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE FULL MIRROR DEPLOYMENT A SUCCESS
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
WASHINGTON -- In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space.

As Webb progresses towards liftoff in 2021, technicians and engineers have been diligently checking off a long list of final tests the observatory will undergo before being packaged for delivery to French Guiana for launch. Performed in early March, this procedure involved commanding the spacecraft’s internal systems to fully extend and latch Webb’s iconic 21 feet 4-inch (6.5 meter) primary mirror, appearing just like it would after it has been launched to orbit. The observatory is currently in a cleanroom at Northrop Grumman Space Systems in Redondo Beach, California.

The difficulty and complexity of performing tests for Webb has increased significantly, now that the observatory has been fully assembled. Special gravity offsetting equipment was attached to Webb’s mirror to simulate the zero-gravity environment its mechanisms will have to operate in. Tests like these help safeguard mission success by physically demonstrating that the spacecraft is able to move and unfold as intended. The Webb team will deploy the observatory’s primary mirror only once more on the ground, just before preparing it for delivery to the launch site.

The evolving novel coronavirus COVID-19 situation is causing significant impact and disruption globally. Given these circumstances, Webb’s Northrop Grumman team in California has resumed integration and testing work with reduced personnel and shifts until the Deployable Tower Assembly set up in April. The project will then shut down integration and testing operations due to the lack of required NASA onsite personnel related to the COVID-19 situation. The project will reassess over the next couple of weeks and adjust decisions as the situation continues to unfold.

Source:  NASA
Associated URL: nasa.gov

 
NASA AWARDS CONTRACT FOR AEROSPACE RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, ENGINEERING SUPPORT
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
WASHINGTON -- NASA has awarded the Aerospace, Research, Development, and Engineering Support Services (ARDES) II contract to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, to execute robotic space missions for the agency through the full mission life cycle, from mission concept and formulation through data analysis.

The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract has a minimum ordering value of $50 million, and a maximum ordering value for the base period of $1 billion. The maximum ordering value of the contract, inclusive of an option period, is $2 billion. The contract provides for placement of cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed price task orders. The contract was awarded with a five-year base period, which began March 30, and one five-year option period, which, if exercised, will begin on March 30, 2025.

Under the ARDES II contract, APL will maintain an essential research capability in space systems engineering, with supporting capabilities required to perform all aspects of robotic space missions as follows: engineering and science technology; systems test and evaluation; information technology; and simulation, modeling, and operations analysis.

Source:  NASA
Associated URL: nasa.gov

 

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