Rocket Report: Billionaire backs Scottish spaceport, Relativity bags a bundle

Images of Electron rocket.
Enlarge / Rocket Lab’s Catch of the Day recovery vessel nears the Electron rocket’s first stage.

Welcome to Edition 3.24 of the Rocket Report! It’s December, and we could see a number of big smallsat launches this month, including from Virgin Orbit and Astra. But in the immediate future, our eyes are on South Texas, where a Starship prototype is due to make a high leap early next week.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Aevum unveils its Ravn X launch system. Until now, Aevum has largely operated in the background. But now, it’s ready to show off some hardware, and it’s starting with the “Ravn X” launch system’s first stage, Ars reports. This autonomous aircraft and launch vehicle measures 24 meters long and has a wingspan of 18 meters. It has a gross takeoff mass of 25,000kg—massive for an uncrewed aerial vehicle. It will drop a rocket capable of carrying 100kg to Sun-synchronous orbit.

Seeking to make satellite delivery a commodity … The company is targeting next year for its first launch. Even as it has finalized the Ravn X first stage, Aevum has been developing a rocket with two liquid-fueled engines for its main stage, each with 5,000 pounds of thrust, and a single upper-stage engine. These engines have been hot-fire tested beyond their full duration burns and have gone through qualification and acceptance testing, the company said. Aevum claims it has secured launch contracts worth more than $1 billion over the next decade, including the Air Force’s ASLON-45 mission.

Virgin Orbit sets date for second launch attempt. On Monday, Virgin Orbit announced it would try a second orbital flight of its LauncherOne rocket on Saturday, December 19. The four-hour window will open at 10am PT (18:00 UTC). During the company’s first demo flight last May, the rocket was successfully dropped from its carrier aircraft, and its engine ignited for a few seconds before running out of LOX due to a blocked line.

This time, there will be a customer … That mission carried no payloads, but this one will. Through its Venture Class Launch Services program, NASA is providing nine CubeSat missions comprising 10 total spacecraft to fly on the Launch Demo 2 mission. The company said it still has to conduct a wet dress rehearsal before embarking upon its launch attempt. Good luck! (submitted by Ken the Bin)

The easiest way to keep up with Eric Berger’s space reporting is to sign up for his newsletter, we’ll collect his stories in your inbox.

Relativity Space adds $500 million to funding coffers. The launch company that aims to 3D-print nearly the entirety of its rockets announced it had closed the large series D

Read more

John Barrowman is accused of FAKING his Scottish accent as he speaks with a strong twang on Lorraine

‘Hello this is Dr McNeely from the fake accent university!’ John Barrowman is accused of FAKING his Scottish accent as he speaks with a very strong twang on Lorraine

He has a Scottish heritage, but grew up in the United States. 

And, John Barrowman, 53, rolled back into his native accent when interviewed by fellow Glaswegian Lorraine Kelly, 61, on Monday morning leaving viewers bemused and accusing the actor of faking – or at least exaggerating – the Scottish twang.  

The I’m A Celeb star didn’t move to the US until his father was relocated there for work, when John was eight, and from that point picked up his American twang. 

What's going on? John Barrowman, 53, rolled back into his native accent when interviewed by fellow Glaswegian Lorraine Kelly, 61, on Monday morning leaving viewers bemused

What’s going on? John Barrowman, 53, rolled back into his native accent when interviewed by fellow Glaswegian Lorraine Kelly, 61, on Monday morning leaving viewers bemused

Lorraine viewers took to Twitter to voice their confusion, with one person writing: ‘I’m aware he is actually Scottish, but how has John Barrowman’s accent gone from American to broad Scottish in a couple of months’ 

‘I’m so Confused by John Barrowman’s accent… He doesn’t usually sound Scottish?’ added another fan of the show. 

Someone else tweeted: ‘Why is John Barrowman decided to start talking in his native Scottish accent after years of speaking with an American one?!!

‘Oh I know, because he is speaking to Lorraine Kelly. It is cringe and so embarrassing. It is a very difficult watch’ 

Cringe! Fans watching the mid-morning show took to social media to accuse the actor of faking - or at least exaggerating - the Scottish twang

Cringe! Fans watching the mid-morning show took to social media to accuse the actor of faking – or at least exaggerating – the Scottish twang

Where did it come from? John didn't move to the US until his father was relocated there for work, when John was eight, and from that point picked up his American twang

Where did it come from? John didn’t move to the US until his father was relocated there for work, when John was eight, and from that point picked up his American twang

‘John Barrowman talking in a fake Scottish accent and #lorraine not noticing’ wrote another viewer, with someone else tweeting: ‘John Barrowman and his exaggerated accent when speaking to a Scot literally makes me cringe. #lorraine.’

‘Have I missed something or has John Barrowman started putting on a Scottish accent on #Lorraine? I know he’s Scottish-American but I’m sure he normally has a pretty strong American accent!’ said another viewer.

One person tweeted: ‘Ffs, Monday morning and John barrowman is speaking in a Scottish accent for attention… cba #Lorraine.’ 

Confusion! Lorraine viewers took to Twitter to voice their confusion

Confusion! Lorraine viewers took to Twitter to voice their confusion

Someone else used a photograph of Jennifer Aniston playing Rachel Green in Friends on the telephone, and captioned it: ‘”Hello this is Dr McNeely from the fake accent university.

“We’d like you to come on board with us full time.” #Lorraine #JohnBarrowman,’ using the hilarious ‘fake accent’ storyline from the American sitcom to ridicule the I’m A Celeb star.

This isn’t the first time John’s accent has caused uproar. In January 2019, fans were confused when the same Scottish accent came out when he appeared on Lorraine, with the presenter

Read more

Former MPC member Danny Blanchflower to weigh Scottish independence currency and central bank questions as he joins University of Glasgow

ECONOMIST and former Monetary Policy Committee member Danny Blanchflower has highlighted his intention to examine key issues in the Scottish independence debate, such as currency options, as he takes up a role at the University of Glasgow.

Mr Blanchflower, who will continue in his post at Dartmouth College in the US and visit Scotland regularly in his new role, said he was “excited” at the prospect of working with University of Glasgow principal Sir Anton Muscatelli.

The economist, formerly a visiting professor at the University of Stirling, said he would be looking at issues around independence such as what would be involved in creating a central bank and currency options. He cited options of joining the euro, retaining the pound, or forming a currency area union with the likes of Sweden and Iceland. Mr Blanchflower, who has three grandchildren in Scotland, said: “Whichever side you are on, you have to have an answer to that.”

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: Brexit-obsessed Tories must wake to US breath of fresh air, think of the young, and listen to Antony Blinken : Opinion

He also flagged the need to “make economics understandable and adaptable”. Mr Blanchflower, who is joining the economics department at the university’s Adam Smith Business School, said: “I am literally going to come to think about Scotland.”

Noting the Scottish Government’s relatively high popularity with the electorate and its decisions to make period products free and offer free university tuition for Scots, while also touching on the nation’s support for European Union membership, he added: “I think suddenly the attractiveness of Scotland has really jumped.”

Sir Anton said: “Danny comes with an unparalleled reputation and track record, and will be a fantastic addition. As we look to the post-Covid economic recovery, it has never been more important to have well-informed economic commentary and I’m very pleased that we will benefit from Professor Blanchflower’s expertise.”

READ MORE: Ian McConnell on Brexit: Tories will accept any price for hard departure – others will be paying: Opinion

Sara Carter, vice-principal and head of the university’s college of social sciences, said: “The Adam Smith Business School is delighted to welcome Professor Danny Blanchflower as a visiting professor. Danny is internationally renowned for his expertise in economic policy and will bring that experience to the University of Glasgow.”

READ MORE: Ian McConnell on Brexit: Hectoring Tories should get own house in order on Brexit: Opinion

The University of Glasgow said Mr Blanchflower is “renowned for his expertise in labour economics where he has made long lasting contributions in the understanding of unemployment, wages, jobs, health and happiness and pushing the boundaries of several disciplines”.

It noted that Mr Blanchflower, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, had been made a Commander of the British Empire in the Queen’s birthday honours list in June 2009, for “services to the Monetary Policy Committee and economics”.

Mr Blanchflower said: “I am very much looking forward to joining the economics department at the Adam Smith Business

Read more
  • Partner links