Rocket Report: NASA chief hits back at Boeing, Falcon 9’s extended coast

Ending the year with a bang — “It will be a busy year.” Eric Berger – Dec 20, 2019 12:00 pm UTC Enlarge / The mighty Delta IV Heavy rocket takes to the skies.Welcome to Edition 2.26 of the Rocket Report! We’ve got a feature-length report today, stuffed like a stocking full of stories about…

Rocket Report: NASA chief hits back at Boeing, Falcon 9’s extended coast

Ending the year with a bang —

“It will be a busy year.”

Eric Berger
– Dec 20, 2019 12:00 pm UTC

Enlarge / The mighty Delta IV Heavy rocket takes to the skies.Welcome to Edition 2.26 of the Rocket Report! We’ve got a feature-length report today, stuffed like a stocking full of stories about launch from around the world. This is our final issue before a holiday break, but we’ll be back with all the news that’s fit to lift on January 9.
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.
Rocket Lab to build second New Zealand pad. Mere days after completing a new launch site in Virginia, Rocket Lab announced this week that it has started work on a second pad at its original launch site in New Zealand. This Pad B at Launch Complex 1 is scheduled to become operational by late 2020, SpaceNews reports.
Weekly launches? … Rocket Lab Chief Executive Peter Beck said the decision to build the second pad was driven by an anticipated increase in its launch rate. After six launches of its Electron rocket in 2019, the company anticipates launching once a month in 2020 and eventually higher cadences. “The additional pad really gives us the capacity to get down to one launch every week, which is what we’ve always been driving to,” he said. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Air Force plans active smallsat launch campaign in 2020. The small-launch division of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is preparing to launch nine missions in 2020, just about doubling the number of launches conducted in 2019, according to SpaceNews. “It will be a busy year,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of the small launch and targets division, which is part of SMC’s Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate.
Five this year … In 2019, five missions were carried out by the small-launch directorate: STP-2 aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, the Ascent Abort-2 flight test of the launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft from a modified Peacekeeper missile, STP-27RD aboard a Rocket Lab Electron vehicle, an MDA intercept flight test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, and (most recently) a flight test of a prototype conventionally configured ground-launched ballistic missile in support of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

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