Tag Archives: test flight

India announces scheduled to test a prototype space plane

The competition heats up: India’s space agency ISRO has announced that they will test fly a prototype space plane sometime between April and June this year.

The test and prototype both sound very similar to Europe’s IXV prototype space plane, test flown only a few weeks ago.

“Technology Demonstrator winged body vehicle weighing 1.5T will be lofted to a height of 70 km using solid booster, thus attaining five times the speed of sound. Thereafter, it will descend by gliding and splashing down into the sea”, said an official statement. This test flight would demonstrate the Hypersonic aerodynamics characteristics, Avionics system, Thermal protection system, Control system and Mission management.

Both programs also remind me of many similar NASA engineering test programs, most of which ended up as dead ends, with the new technology never applied to actual real world missions. Whether that happens in Europe and India remains the main question. The increasing competition in space should help prevent it, but these are also government-run programs, so their goal has less to do with profit and competition than pork and political maneuvering.

Watch the first test flight live this weekend of Copenhagen Suborbitals manned capsule.

Watch the first test flight live this weekend of Copenhagen Suborbitals’ manned capsule launch abort system.

If all goes as planned, the Launch Escape System will rocket [the capsule dubbed Beautiful] Betty and Randy [the crash dummy] from a seafaring launch platform, loft them to a height between 2,620 and 3,280 feet and then splash down in the Baltic Sea. At that point self-inflating bags will emerge from Betty and right the floating spacecraft.

SpaceX has delayed the launch of its Dragon test mission to ISS, with the launch now scheduled sometime between May 3 and May 7.

SpaceX has delayed the launch of its Dragon test mission to ISS, with the launch now scheduled sometime between May 3 and May 7.

“After reviewing our recent progress, it was clear that we needed more time to finish hardware-in-the-loop testing and properly review and follow up on all data,” SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham wrote in an email. “While it is still possible that we could launch on May 3rd, it would be wise to add a few more days of margin in case things take longer than expected. As a result, our launch is likely to be pushed back by one week, pending coordination with NASA.”

ISS’s robot arm has now been moved into position in preparation for the Dragon berthing flight, scheduled for April 30.

ISS’s robot arm has now been moved into position in preparation for the Dragon berthing flight, scheduled for April 30.

The article also gives a nice outline of the entire Falcon 9/Dragon test flight.

Some details on the cause of the Dragon/Falcon 9 launch delay

Bill Harward has some details on the cause of the Dragon/Falcon 9 launch delay.

Essentially, nothing seems critical. They found a few minor issues that they felt needed more testing, and are simply making sure these issues are resolved before launch. All in all I find this report very encouraging. Stay tuned.

NASA has announced a February 7 launch date for SpaceX’s next test flight of Falcon 9 and Dragon

NASA has announced a February 7 launch date for SpaceX’s next test flight of Falcon 9 and Dragon to ISS.

They also have approved allowing Dragon to do a test berth with ISS on this flight, assuming the first test approach goes well.

NASA picks the Delta 4 Heavy to launch Orion into orbit on its first test flight

NASA has chosen the Delta 4 Heavy rocket to launch the Orion capsule into orbit for its first test flight in 2014.

So, tell me again why NASA needs to spend $18 to $62 billion for a new rocket, when it already can hire Lockheed Martin to do the same thing? Though the Delta 4 Heavy can only get about 28 tons into low Earth orbit, and only about 10 tons into geosynchronous orbit — far less than the planned heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket — Boeing Lockheed has a variety of proposed upgrades to Delta 4 Heavy that could bring these numbers way up. Building these upgrades would surely be far cheaper than starting from scratch to build SLS.

Corrected above as per comments below.

NASA moves first flight test of Orion capsule up three years to 2014

NASA has moved the scheduled first flight test of the Orion capsule up three years to 2014.

This action, while good, was almost certainly triggered by the competition from the private space companies. The managers at NASA are finally realizing that if they don’t speed up deployment of their own spacecraft, they will certainly lose in the competition for government dollars. That they will have to use another rocket other than their heavy-lift vehicle for this launch, however, will not help that particular project’s lobbying effort.

Either way, I think this action is only further proof that the more competition we have, the quicker we will get into space. And the journey will cost less too, not only because it will take less time and therefore less money, but the competition between companies (or NASA) will force everyone — including NASA — to lower costs to show they can do it better.

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser to get its first test flight in the summer of 2012

Dream Chaser, Sierra Nevada’s space plane, is to get its first test flight this coming summer.

For the unmanned test flight, it will be carried into the skies by WhiteKnightTwo, the carrier aircraft for the commercial suborbital passenger ship SpaceShipTwo, backed by Virgin Galactic, a U.S. company owned by Richard Branson’s London-based Virgin Group.

Amazon Chief’s Spaceship Misfires

Bad news for commercial space: A test of Amazon chief’s Blue Origin spaceship ended in failure on Friday.

After The Wall Street Journal reported on the failure, Blue Origin Friday posted a brief note on its website stating the spacecraft, while going faster than the speed of sound, suffered a “flight instability” at an altitude of 45,000 feet and the company’s automated “range safety system” shut off all thrust and led to its destruction. The problem appeared to stem from thrusters that didn’t respond properly to the initial commands, according to one industry official.

Second X-51 hypersonic flight crashes prematurely

Second X-51 hypersonic flight crashes prematurely.

After what the US Air Force described as a ‘flawless’ flight to the launch point aboard a Boeing B-52 mothership, the X-51 was successfully boosted to Mach 5.0 by a rocket booster. The Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne scramjet engine successfully ignited using its initial fuel, ethylene. During the immediate transition to JP-7, the conventional fuel that makes the X-51 unique, an inlet unstart occurred. A subsequent attempt to restart and reorient to optimal conditions was unsuccessful.

SpaceShipTwo’s First “Feathered” Flight

SpaceShipTwo’s has successfully completed its first “feathered” flight.

After a 45 minute climb to the desired altitude of 51,500 feet, SpaceShip2 (SS2) was released cleanly from VMS Eve [WhiteKnightTwo] and established a stable glide profile before deploying, for the first time, its re-entry or “feathered” configuration by rotating the tail section of the vehicle upwards to a 65 degree angle to the fuselage. It remained in this configuration with the vehicle’s body at a level pitch for approximately 1 minute and 15 seconds whilst descending, almost vertically, at around 15,500 feet per minute, slowed by the powerful shuttlecock-like drag created by the raised tail section. At around 33,500 feet the pilots reconfigured the spaceship to its normal glide mode and executed a smooth runway touch down, approximately 11 minutes and 5 seconds after its release from VMS Eve.