SpaceX ponders its next mission to blot out the Sun with another 60 Starlink sats

www.theregister.co.uk | 1/21/2020 | Staff
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Roundup Welcome back to The Register's weekly roundup of stories from the world of rockets and orbital shenanigans.

Rocket Lab is to launch a second dedicated mission for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) with a launch window opening on 31 January. The contract was awarded under the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract vehicle and will lift off from the company's New Zealand Launch Complex 1 facility.

Birds - Feather - Launch - Electron - Rather

Dubbed "Birds of a Feather", this will be the 11th launch of the Electron. Rather than carrying the trio of stars from the eponymous UK TV sitcom into orbit, it'll be the NROL-151 satellite.

Just as well, Lesley Joseph is still in panto until the start of February. It would, however, be a whole new excuse for a launch delay.

Date - Company - Construction - Facility - Long

The date has been set after the company kicked off construction of a new facility in Long Beach, California, to serve as Corporate HQ, add Mission Control Centre capabilities and provide incremental production capacity. The team expects the facility to spit out 12 Electron vehicles a year to support a monthly launch cadence from the company's first US launch site, Launch Complex 2 in Wallops Island, Virginia.

The first US launch is booked for Q3 2020.

Virgin - Galactic - Veteran - Enrico - Palermo

Virgin Galactic veteran Enrico Palermo has been appointed chief operating officer for the sub-orbital lobber. Previously president of The Spaceship Company, Palermo joined Virgin Galactic in 2006 as one of its first employees.

The move comes as Virgin Galactic looks set to finally fly paying passengers to the edge of space and back, depending on where you think space actually starts.

Kármán - Line - Others - Space - Galactic

Some put the Kármán line at 100km, while others reckon space begins at 80km. Virgin Galactic falls into the latter camp, having got to nearly 90km in the last flight of VSS Unity almost a year ago.

While well-heeled passengers patiently await...
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