Key news includes a change to the launch location, another upcoming engine test, options to do suborbital testing (including the prized ability to leave the launch rocket), modular rocket motors, rocket motor tradeoffs, and insider information about the politics of rocket building. A trivia question: How much does a launch license cost?
I am particularly intrigued by the idea of using a suborbital rocket to test the ion engine. A suborbital flight provides 10-15 minutes of microgravity in outer space, which should be plenty to do testing without the hassle of power conservation needed for longer, solar-powered missions. All other providers I’ve seen will not eject payload, meaning we couldn’t test the effectiveness of an engine. Sure, we won’t get the engine back, but maybe we could turn that into a feature, learning limits for the longer orbital mission by running the engine destructively.