Self-eating rocket lands some funding. The United Kingdom’s Defense and Security Accelerator has pledged nearly $120,000 to further development of a novel “autophage” rocket. The project, under development at the University of Glasgow, burns its own structure as propellant during its ascent to orbit.
Burn the fuel, burn the tanks … Autophage engines have already been test-fired by the Glasgow team using all-solid propellant, Parabolic Arc reports. The new funding will underwrite the research required to use a more energetic hybrid propellant, and this new engine will be test-fired at Kingston University in London’s new rocket laboratory in London next year. (submitted by platykurtic)
Crew-1 mission slips into November. Launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station is now targeted for no earlier than early-to-mid-November, the space agency said this week. This mission will launch NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission specialist Soichi Noguchi, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
Issue related to GPS III launch attempt … NASA said the delay would provide additional time for “SpaceX to complete hardware testing and data reviews as the company evaluates off-nominal behavior of Falcon 9 first-stage engine gas generators observed during a recent non-NASA mission launch attempt.” The issue occurred on an October 2 Falcon 9 launch attempt scrubbed at T-2 seconds. A new date for the GPS III mission has not been set. (submitted by Ken the Bin and platykurtic)
Momentum building for propellant depots? This week, NASA made a significant investment in technology to store and transfer cryogenic propellant in space. Its $250 million in grants will go to four companies: United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, and Eta Space. Ars explains why this is a consequential decision and could transform spaceflight, including launch.
Mine water, power rockets … At the same time, chief executive Tory Bruno of ULA has proposed the creation of a “Strategic Propellant Reserve,” a series of fuel depots between the Earth and the Moon. This would incentivize launch companies to think about reusing upper stages and support companies seeking to mine water from the Moon. ULA has pitched the idea to the National Space Council’s users advisory council. Bruno said the group agreed to study it further, SpaceNews reports. (submitted by JohnCarter17, Ken the Bin, and platykurtic)
China launches 30th rocket of the year. The Chinese Earth-observation Gaofen-13 satellite is on its way to a geostationary orbit after successful launch on a Long March 3B from Xichang on Sunday. This was the first launch from the busiest of China’s four launch sites since July 9, following renovations and upgrades involving launch towers, refueling, power supply, and communications to boost reliability, safety, and cadence, SpaceNews reports.
Ten more to go? … The renovations are aimed at improving annual launch capacity from around 17 to about 30 launches. Sunday’s launch was China’s 30th in 2020, including major launches of interplanetary spacecraft and space station-related launch vehicles. Four of