Rocket Report: SpaceX readies Super Heavy, Russia tests new engine

Photos of SN11 in flight.

Enlarge / SN11 nears apogee on March 30, 2021 over SpaceX’s South Texas launch site. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann / Ars Technica)

Welcome to Edition 3.39 of the Rocket Report! This week, we have another exploding Starship to cover, as well as two—count ’em two—stories that originate Down Under. Finally, one of the most promising Scottish spaceports has run into a pretty serious roadblock.

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.

Virgin Galactic reveals its newest spaceplane. On Tuesday, Virgin Galactic unveiled the newest vehicle in its fleet, named VSS Imagine. The first in the “SpaceShip III” line of spacecraft, it represents an upgrade from the current VSS Unity vehicle that Virgin Galactic is testing. According to Virgin Galactic, the new vehicle has been optimized to limit the mass of its structure—and therefore its overall weight. The company anticipates a performance increase that will allow VSS Imagine to carry six passengers on short suborbital flights, whereas VSS Unity can carry only four customers in its main cabin.

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