I woke up this morning and looked at my usual sites to see what was going on in the world as far as spaceflight, and I was instantly intrigued with the news that India has launched a mini-shuttle prototype on a test flight today. India is trying to get into the reusable vehicle market so it can compete with other companies such as SpaceX as far as price for launching payloads from companies worldwide. The flight shuttle was mounted on top of a solid fueled rocket and went through powered flight lasting 1 minute and 10 seconds when the booster burned out and separated away from the Shuttle, while continuing to climb in a ballistic trajectory. It pitched its nose up and reentered the dense atmosphere and landed in the Bay of Bengal, and was not recovered with total flight time lasting around 20 minutes. The actual Shuttle that will be launching payloads won’t be ready until 2030 or so. In my honest opinion, I think this is wonderful that the Indians are slowly trying to compete in the launch market. Here in the United States, competition for our military payloads are very fierce between SpaceX and ULA, in which up until recently had a monopoly on U.S. military payloads and with a very steep price tag. While, I seriously doubt India will ever launch a United States military payload, it will have an impact on the launch market with India competing with not only the U.S., but Russia and ESA’s Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz rockets.
On another topic, SpaceX has another launch scheduled for May 26th that will launch the Thiacom 8 satellite that will offer broadcast and data services for Thailand, SE Asia and Africa. They will attempt another landing on the drone ship in the Atlantic. This launch is a daytime launch and we should have a great view of the hopefully successful landing attempt on the ship. There has been no word on the static fire of its engines, but with the launch only 3 days away, word should come any time now.
Keep posted, I’m working on a piece that will be dedicated to the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s new mega rocket that will take the Orion spacecraft on it’s second flight set for no earlier than September 2018.