Category: Launch Segment

Incoming head of French space agency, CNES: Top priority is the challenge from Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba

PARIS — The incoming new president of the French space agency, CNES, passed his examination by the French legislature, surmounting criticism of his “atypical” background as a researcher and mathematician with stints at IBM and France’s CNRS research center, with no experience in the space sector.
Given his professional history, including a Master of Science and a doctorate in computer science, it was not surprising that Philippe Baptiste said his highest priority at CNES would be to confront the challenge posed by Amazon, Microsoft . . .
To view the entire article, become a subscriber!

Are micro-launchers condemned to get bigger or fail? It looks that way, says Arianespace

PARIS — What’s a micro launch vehicle? It’s a medium-lift rocket that hasn’t yet been mugged by market realities that force it to become larger.
That’s the opinion of launch-service provider Arianespace Chief Executive  Stephane Israel, whose company has to confront the issue starting right now.
Arianespace is the sole operator at Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport, situated on French territory on the northeast coast of South America. The center is now trying to attract one or more micro . . .
To view the entire article, become a subscriber!

Relativity Space, Rocket Lab, Astra: 3 well-funded smallsat launchers with different ideas on the market

PARIS — Three cash-rich U.S. small-satellite launch providers look at the same market and see different things, starting with the basics, like demand.
“We’ll begin monthly launch operations in the fours quarter of this year and our objective is to begin daily space operations by 2025,” said Chris Kemp, founder and chief executive of Astra, about to go public in a SPAC deal with Holicity Inc. that values the company at $2.1 billion:

DLR in La La Land: German Aerospace Center puts showmanship ahead of engineering in launcher evaluation

PARIS — The German government on April 1 began reviewing proposals from three startup launch service providers competing for $13 million in German government funding and, importantly, German support for a co-funded development program with the 22-nation European Space Agency (ESA).
The three companies, HyImpulse Technologies, Isar Aerospace and Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA), each received 500,000 euros in government Phase 1 support in mid-2020 as part of a Phase 1 small-launcher support effort.
Phase 2 will select . . .
To view the entire article, become a subscriber!

Redwire & Genesis Park: The SPAC that wants to be seen as an index fund

PARIS — The planned merger and stock-market introduction of Redwire with Genesis Park Acquisition Corp. is a rarity among space-sector SPACs: It pitches the company as much for what it is now as for what it will be if everything works out.
Genesis and Redwire officials said repeatedly that the transaction is not needed to fund any of the near-term revenue targets, but rather to increase capacity and chase other space-sector M&A.
Redwire has conducted seven acquisitions in the past . . .
To view the entire article, become a subscriber!

ESA, with UK funds, awards $12.4M to launch startups Orbex & Skyrora; Scotland sees $6.3B 10-year market for UK

PARIS — The European Space Agency (ESA) awarded $12.4 million in development contracts to two British launch-service startups, both promising operations in 2022, two days after Scotland’s economic development agency concluded that UK spaceports could generate $6.3 billion in launch revenue in the next 10 years.
The two events were not timed to occur in the same week, but they are both part of a movement that is causing major stresses to Europe’s established space-launch sector, already suffering from the rapid changes in the global commercial . . .
To view the entire article, become a subscriber!

A fairy tale by another name: Eurospace says Europe’s space policy suffers from 2 illusions and 4 taboos

PARIS — The 22-nation European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission and several European nations say they’re ready for deep modifications to Europe’s space policy on behalf of industrial competitiveness.
But are they really?
That remains unclear, no less so after recent meetings on Europe’s launcher policy between France and Germany and between France and Italy. These meetings have produced statements that, while smothered in diplomatic niceties, show that these three governments are fare apart on how to proceed.

Launch cost down, satellite mass up: NanoAvionics adds 50-150-kg MP42 bus to capture constellation market

PARIS — Smallsat builder NanoAvionics is one of perhaps a dozen merchant providers of small satellite platforms and payloads that have proved an ability to win business from a diverse set of customers.
It’s also cash-flow positive, and counts on remaining so even as it adds new production facilities in Lithuania to handle the company’s new, larger product, the MP42.
Designed for satellites with 40-50-kg payloads and a launch mass of up to 150 kilograms, the MP42 is designed to put NanoAvionics where . . .
To view the entire article, become a subscriber!

Fairing-separation issue has grounded Ariane 5 since August 2020, also affected ULA’s Atlas 5

PARIS — Excess vibration during fairing separation on two European Ariane 5 missions in 2020 forced a months-long inquiry that has grounded the vehicle since August, with similar consequences for the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5, which uses the same fairing technology, government and industry officials said.
With the help of a recent emergency cash infusion by the Swiss government, Ariane 5 and Atlas 5 fairing manufacturer Ruag Space, based in Switzerland, apparently has identified the root cause of the issue and begun implementing corrective measures.

EU Commissioner Breton assures NewSpace companies they will be central to Commission programs

PARIS — European Commissioner Thierry Breton told Europe’s NewSpace sector that the commission’s future Launcher Alliance and its space-based connectivity project will be wide open to new players including startups.
The Launcher alliance, still not clearly defined, is being “prepared together with the European Space Agency” as well as individual EU nations and industry “in an inclusive and open manner.”
“The future Alliance will accelerate development and maturation of new technologies for EU launchers and foster new transportation services and concepts (such as green propulsion . . .
To view the entire article, become a subscriber!