# The Orbital Index

Issue No. 163 | Apr 6, 2022

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 ¶Artemis I’s Wet Dress Rehearsal. During the upcoming WDR test the massive SLS rocket will be filled with liquid hydrogen and oxygen propellant and taken through a full launch countdown to T-10 seconds, stopping just before igniting the core stage’s four RS-25 engines. The initial WDR was scrubbed on Sunday due to malfunctioning fans on the mobile launcher which could have led to a hazardous gas build-up. (The launch zone was also harmlessly struck by lightning a few times.) Then on Monday the WDR proceeded through partial oxygen loading, with a small hiccup due to temperature limits being reached, but was eventually called off when a tank vent control panel on the hydrogen tank malfunctioned near the end of the day. The next attempt is likely in a couple of days. Multiple attempts and iterations are expected during this critical practice run. NASA has provided minimal coverage of the tests, omitting mission control sound, due to export control concerns. The claim is that the government is “really super sensitive to cryogenic launch vehicles of this size and capability” because they’re analogous to ballistic missiles. However, mission control sound was shared for Shuttle launches and the majority of ballistic missiles are not cryogenic due to their need for storage and rapid launch. It’s all a bit odd.
 SLS waiting for its next attempt for a full Wet Dress Rehearsal.
 ¶News in brief. SpaceX is ending production of its pretty darn new Crew Dragon capsule—according to Gwynne Shotwell, they will continue to refurbish and reuse the fleet of four, focusing on “fleet management” (and Starship) ● China’s maiden Long March 6A launch was successful, deploying two satellites from the very upgraded Long March 6 with solid boosters—it can send 4 tons to a 700 km SSO orbit ● The UN banned the use of mercury as a satellite propellant—despite some excitement about a four-year-old proposal by Apollo Fusion (now an Astra subsidiary that doesn’t use mercury as a propellant), no thrusters have used mercury during flight since sub-orbital test flights in ‘64 & ‘70 ● Blue Origin’s New Shepard took space tourists on a suborbital hop for the fourth time including Gary Lai the Chief Architect for the launch system ● Kubos (Andrew’s old employer) and their Major Tom mission control software were acquired by Xplore ● South Korea successfully test-fired its first solid-fuelled rocket booster ● Astronaut Mark Vande Hei safely returned to a geopolitically unstable Earth with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov ● Japanese SAR company Synspective raised a $100M Series B; the aerospace parts manufacturing startup Hadrian raised$90M; and, Impulse Space raised \$20M for their orbital transfer vehicle—the company was founded by Tom Mueller, 1st employee at SpaceX and lead on the Merlin engine ● Again, satellite imagery disproves Russian lies about civilian deaths ● Rocket Lab launched two BlackSky EO sats ● Amazon’s Project Kuiper contracted for “the largest commercial procurement of space launch services in history,” signing up for 83 launches from ULA (47), Arianespace (18), and Blue Origin (12, with an option for 15 more) to launch the majority of their planned 3,236 satellite internet service constellation ● The Sun is starting to act up as it heads towards its next solar maximum (happening in ~2025), releasing an X-class flare on March 30th, resulting in stunning auroras.