Rocket Lab, small rocket venture, announced that it has hired Mike Griffin, who resigned as Under Secretary of Defense in July, as a new board member. Griffin has been involved in both government and space industry. Prior to serving as Under Secretary of Defense, he was Secretary-General of NASA from 2005 to 2009. In the space industry, Griffin headed the Space Systems Group as an executive at Orbital Sciences Corporation in the 1990s and later chairman and chief executive officer of Schafer Corporation. He has also led In-Q-Tel , a venture capital firm founded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The biggest reason Griffin has joined Rocket Lab’s board is likely to be because Rocket Lab is trying to grow its business with the US government. The company has won launch contracts from DARPA, NASA, and NRO (National Reconnaissance Bureau). In his Rocket Lab announcement, Griffin commented:
“Space continues to be a highly contested domain crucial to our national security, and it’s also a domain that presents significant commercial opportunity,” Griffin said in the Rocket Lab announcement. “The Rocket Lab team has a proven track record of executing on a clear vision to make space accessible to these diverse communities, and I look forward to supporting that vision.”
German new rocket venture HyImpulse aims to launch in late 2022
HyImpulse , an emerging rocket venture launched by engineers of the German Space Agency DLR , revealed that it is working on a hybrid rocket aiming for its first flight in the second half of 2022. HyImpulse uses a hybrid rocket engine that uses paraffin (hydrocarbon compound with 20 or more carbon atoms) and liquid oxygen, and can orbit a payload of 500kg into a low earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of 400km.
Three co-founders of HyImpulse, including Mr. Mario Kobald, majored in aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart and launched a ballistic flight rocket called Heros 3 to an altitude of 32.3 km in 2016. They have set a launch altitude world record. HyImpulse plans to launch a new ballistic flight rocket from the Esrange Space Center in Sweden next March to test the new hybrid rocket engine.
HyImpulse is a start-up company for small rocket competition that DLR has been held in July of this year, Isar Aerospace and Rocket Factory Augsburg selected at the end three companies together. The three companies will continue to develop and the final one will be selected in 2021 to win $13 million in prize money from the DLR. HyImpulse also aims to win this final prize. Companies using hybrid rocket engines include Virgin Galactic , Nammo in Norway and GILMOUR SPACE TECHNOLOGIES in Australia. Although hybrid rockets have the advantage of being relatively easy to handle, the reality is that they still have many technical barriers.
Northrop Grumman Successfully Launches Second Geostationary Satellite Life Extension
The geostationary satellite life extender MEV-2, developed by Northrop Grumman and its subsidiary Space Logistics LLC, was successfully launched at Ariane 5. Northrop Grumman is developing a geostationary satellite life extension machine at SpaceLogistics LLC to develop an on-orbit service for private geostationary satellites.
The MEV-2 launched this time will go into geosynchronous orbit over the next five months, and will be docked with the aging communication satellite Intelsat 10-02, extending its operational life. Once MEV-2 has docked with Intelsat 10-02 for 5 years to navigate and complete the mission, MEV-2 will be able to contract with other satellite operators and begin sailing under the new satellite. Businesses such as refueling satellites in orbit and extending their life are called in-orbit services, and their own satellites (service satellites) provide services to customer satellites (client satellites).