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SpaceX’s Starship Launch: A Game-Changing Moment for Space Exploration as the First Orbital Flight Test Approaches

SpaceX's Starship Launch A Game-Changing Moment for Space Exploration as the First Orbital Flight Test Approaches (1)
SpaceX's Starship Launch A Game-Changing Moment for Space Exploration as the First Orbital Flight Test Approaches (1) Image Credits: Virgin Orbit/Greg Robinson

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Greetings and welcome to the latest edition of Max Q! The most important development in the world of spaceflight is that SpaceX’s Starship’s first orbital flight test (OFT) is approaching.

The flight has been anticipated for a long time, and it appears that it may finally happen. According to the latest reports, it seems that a static fire test is scheduled to take place soon, which is a significant milestone before the wet dress rehearsal (WDR) and subsequent launch.

If everything goes according to plan, the WDR could occur next week, and the first OFT could happen the following week.

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  • Virgin Orbit’s death knell
  • A new startup building “orbital pursuit” spacecraft for the Pentagon
  • News from Stoke Space and more

Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy

Virgin Orbit, the small-payload launch company, which was spun out of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, has filed for bankruptcy protection with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

It is a significant setback for the company, which was developing a unique approach to small-satellite launches using modified Boeing 747 aircraft. This filing comes after the company announced the suspension of all its operations for an indefinite period, followed by an announcement that they were looking for funds to continue their business. The company also undertook significant layoffs to cut expenses, which failed to have any significant impact on their bottom line.

The recent events that led to the filing of bankruptcy protection were primarily due to operational challenges and financial difficulties. The pandemic was the primary cause of the economic downturn and financial woes that Virgin Orbit faced, which affected the entire aviation industry.

It was challenging to secure funds for the company as investors are increasingly cautious during these uncertain times. The decision to file for bankruptcy protection was not taken lightly, and it was seen as the only viable option to enable the company to reorganize and emerge stronger.

Despite this setback, the company’s leadership is optimistic about its future. They remain confident in the value of the technology they have developed and the potential it has for future space missions.

They also believe that their unique approach to satellite launches will remain attractive to customers and investors, giving them a competitive edge in the future.

However, they will have to overcome significant financial hurdles and operational challenges to emerge stronger and regain the trust of their customers and investors.

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A new startup called True Anomaly has come out of stealth mode, with plans to send intelligence-gathering pursuit satellites to orbit this year. The Colorado-based company was founded last year by three ex-Space Force members and has raised millions of dollars.

Its goal is to supply the Pentagon with defensive tech to protect American assets in space and conduct reconnaissance on enemy spacecraft. True Anomaly has developed a technology stack that includes training software and “autonomous orbital pursuit vehicles” that can collect video and other data on objects in space.

The company’s CEO, Evan Rogers, said that there is a critical “information asymmetry” between the United States and its adversaries concerning space activities. This asymmetry increases the likelihood of conflict “because it creates conditions for miscalculation.”

The CEO added that it is important to be absolutely clear about the adversaries’ intentions and capabilities so that the U.S. can make the right investments and defend itself if necessary.

True Anomaly is well-positioned to provide a unique and much-needed service in the current geopolitical climate, as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to rise.

China has made significant strides in space technology in recent years, including launching a rover to Mars and building its space station.

The U.S. sees China as a significant threat in space, as the country has been accused of developing anti-satellite technology and demonstrating a willingness to use it. As such, True Anomaly’s technology stack could provide the United States with a competitive advantage in space and enhance the country’s ability to protect its interests.

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