Very special thanks to the 350 of you out there supporting Main Engine Cut Off on Patreon for the month of November. MECO is entirely listener- and reader-supported, so your support keeps this blog and podcast going, growing, and improving, and most importantly, it keeps it independent.
This is definitely an improvement over the status quo, which is that you can launch a single satellite and that covers your spectrum rights for thousands more that you may never launch.
When I was at IAC, I heard that this would be flying on the back of Centaur. That made sense, as ULA was a partner in Nanoracks’ Outpost program. But after this announcement, I went looking, and ULA hasn’t appeared in anything related to Outposts in months.
Last week, NASA announced the addition of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, Tyvak, and Ceres Robotics to the list of Commercial Lunar Payload Services providers. That brings the total number of providers to 14.
Blue Origin filed a protest back in August with a handful of complaints about the selection criteria for the National Security Space Launch program. The Government Accountability Office sided with Blue Origin on what seems like the most important complaint, but threw out a handful of other ones.
I think I’m too quick to shrug off the “domestic launch capability on demand” aspect of Virgin Orbit. That’s a big selling point for countries with no up-and-running spaceport, and even more so for countries with geography that isn’t conducive to the existence of one at all.
Very special thanks to the 335 of you out there supporting Main Engine Cut Off on Patreon for the month of October. MECO is entirely listener- and reader-supported, so your support keeps this blog and podcast going, growing, and improving, and most importantly, it keeps it independent.
That’s some serious speed.
I still think that as a launch services company, it’s a bad idea to put yourself in a situation where you’re beholden to someone else’s business for your core engines. But the confirmation of moving to a single-core, reusable first stage, along with a doubling of Beta’s previous payload is at least the best case scenario here.
I’ve been genuinely excited to see what Firefly can do in the launch market. And I still am excited to see Alpha, but for Beta, this is a major violation of the rocket equivalent of Alan Kay’s theorem: people who are really serious about launch services should make their own engines.