Max Q: A Successful Failure

Hello and welcome back to Max Q!

In this issue:

  • The successful failure of Starship
  • Rocket Lab’s Electron Goes Suborbital
  • Orbit Fab News and More

SpaceX launched a fully stacked Starship for the first time on Thursday morning, with the vehicle passing Max Q and flying for about three minutes. Let me be clear: this was a remarkable result for a first flight test, especially since this is the largest and most powerful rocket humans have ever built. To look at the launch’s conclusion, the rather spectacular explosion after the rocket’s upper stage failed to separate from the propellant, is to miss the significant success story of Starship’s test program thus far.

The flight test likely yielded a ton of useful data to inform subsequent Starship tests, data that the company wouldn’t be able to obtain through further ground testing. Sometimes you just need to fly the damn rocket.

SpaceX spacecraft launch

Image Credits: spacex

“Rocket Lab is adding a new offering to its suite of services: hypersonic suborbital launches. The new service will be available starting in the first half of this year, when the company performs its first mission for a “confidential client” who contracted to use the new suborbital rocket.

Rocket Lab’s suborbital vehicle is derived from its successful Electron orbital launch vehicle, but is given a new name via the acronym “HASTE” (Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron). The first of these is already being prepared for launch at Rocket Lab’s US launch facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.” –Darrell Etherington

Rocket Lab HASTE rocket

Image Credits: rocket laboratory

More news from TC and beyond

  • astranis closed $200 million in new funding as it prepares for its first launch on a SpaceX Super Heavy this week. (Bloomberg)
  • axiom space is launching a new program aimed at giving countries without a national space agency easier access to space. (Axiom)
  • AWS announced the 14 startups that will participate in its space accelerator. (AWS)
  • Lockheed-Martin successfully demonstrated rendezvous and proximity operations, technologies that could be used for in-orbit service, earlier this year. (via satellite)
  • fabulous orbita startup that wants to establish in-orbit refueling services, closed a $28.5 million Series A. (Tech Crunch)
  • rocket laboratory plans to reuse a Rutherford engine, which powers the Electron rocket, for the first time in an upcoming launch. (Rocket Lab)
  • space capital The latest quarterly investment report highlights how private markets continue to readjust after sky-high valuations and cash flow in recent years. (Space Capital)
  • space forge, a UK-based startup that focuses on manufacturing in space, plans to expand its presence in the US with manufacturing facilities for its satellites. (Space Forge)
  • spacex Reduction of Starlink’s monthly customer service fees for customers in several European countries. (Starlink Insider)
  • from SpaceX”Fail Successful” highlights how Starship missions necessitate a timeline reset. (Tech Crunch)
  • virgin orbit it has every intention of launching itself again, despite filing for bankruptcy and laying off 85% of its staff. (Washington Post)

Max Q is featured by me, Aria Alamalhodaei. If you like reading Max Q, consider forwarding it to a friend.

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