Falcon 9

SpaceX expands network with launch of 58 satellites, completes second of four launches

SpaceX has completed the second of a planned record four launches, sending another batch of Starlink internet satellites into low Earth orbit. While it is the ninth launch of Starlink satellites, it is the first to include satellites from multiple companies – the first-ever Rideshare launch, part of a series that will help bring satellites from companies like Planet Labs, Exolaunch and Momentus Space into Earth orbit. The Rideshare Mission program aims to provide a “flexible, low-cost” method of transporting satellites to low Earth orbit, according to NasaSpaceflight.com. The Saturday launch saw a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 58 Starlink satellites as well as 3 Planet Labs Inc. satellites. SpaceX has already carried a number of satellites into space for the likes of Planet Labs before, but the Rideshare Mission launches will see more trips in a greater frequency. The launch took place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Saturday morning, with the sky so clear that the glow from the rockets engines were visible throughout the launch. The re-usable Falcon 9 booster used on Saturday already had two flights to its name. Starlink launch missions have brought a total of 540 satellites into low Earth orbit so far. Additional missions will continue to grow SpaceX’s “constellation” of internet satellites to have a total of 1,584 satellites in orbit by the end of the current phase. CEO Elon Musk established the Starlink project to create a low-cost global broadband network. SpaceX originally announced plans to create the Starlink network in 2015, with plans to carry up to 50% of all backhaul communications traffic and up to 10% of local internet traffic. SpaceX recently completed its first manned launch on May 30, marking the first time a private company – rather than a government – has launched astronauts into space. President Trump called the launch America’s “bold and triumphant return to the stars.” Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken then completed a 19-hour journey to the International Space Station while the Falcon 9 rocket used to launch them returned to a drone ship in the Atlantic.

Very cool!!!   To see pics, videos and more, click on the text above.  Go SpaceX!!      🙂

SpaceX makes history, launches NASA astronauts into space from US soil for the first time since 2011

SpaceX has launched NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on their historic Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. Hurley and Behnken blasted off from Kennedy Space Center’s historic launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs, at 3:22 p.m. ET Saturday. An attempt on Wednesday was scrubbed due to weather conditions. The launch is the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. There were concerns that bad weather would force Saturday’s launch to be scrubbed, but the mission was able to proceed as planned. President Trump and Vice President Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, watched the launch from Kennedy Space Center. Speaking at Kennedy Space Center following the launch, Trump praised America’s “bold and triumphant return to the stars.” “With this launch, the decades of lost years and little action are officially over,” he said. The names of Hurley and Behnken, he added, will stand in the history books alongside the likes of Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gus Grissom. “We have liftoff! Congratulations @Astro_Doug, @AstroBehnken, @NASA and @SpaceX!” tweeted Pence. Launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Hurley and Behnken are traveling to the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon spacecraft built by the space company. After a short journey into orbit, Crew Dragon began its 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. Autonomous docking with the International Space Station is expected at 10:29 a.m. EDT on Sunday. The duration of the astronauts’ stay on the orbiting space lab is yet to be determined. After separation, the Falcon 9 booster successfully returned to Earth, landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. “Today was just an amazing day,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said shortly after the launch. “I can breathe a sigh of relief but I can also tell you that I’m not going to celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely.” Bridenstine said he was praying for the astronauts during the liftoff. “I have heard that rumble [of a rocket launch] before, but it’s a whole different feeling when you’ve got your own team on that rocket.” Under normal circumstances, large crowds would have been expected to witness the historic launch but, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, NASA urged people to stay away. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA recently agreed to pay Russian space agency Roscosmos $90 million for one final seat on one of its Soyuz rockets.

Hopefully that’s the last time we pay the Russians, a major strategic  adversary, $90 MILLION to hitch a ride.  If you missed today’s launch, the Google it, or click on the text above for a couple videos.  It was beyond awesome!  Our congrats to both NASA and SpaceX for this historic launch!  And, our prayer are with Doug and Bob.  Go SpaceX!!    🙂

SpaceX and NASA’s historic launch scrubbed as a result of weather

SpaceX and NASA’s historic launch was scrubbed Wednesday as a result of weather conditions. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were scheduled to launch at 4:33 p.m. EDT on May 27 from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. The launch was called off at just 16 minutes and 54 seconds before the launch time. The mission had an instantaneous launch window, which meant that the flight was scheduled to launch exactly at 4:33 p.m. with no potential to extend the window. The weather violations included natural lightning and the strength of the electric field in the atmosphere. “Standing down from launch today due to unfavorable weather in the flight path,” tweeted SpaceX. “No launch for today – safety for our crew members @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken is our top priority,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. The launch would have been the first time a private company, rather than a national government, sent astronauts into orbit. It would also have been the first time that astronauts have launched since U.S. soil since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011. The next launch attempt will be on Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT.

Bummer!!  Oh well..  We’ll be ready with fingers crossed on Saturday!

SpaceX, NASA, astronauts making final preparations: ‘We’re go for launch’

SpaceX is making final preparations for Wednesday’s Demo-2 mission to launch NASA astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will transport astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station on the historic mission. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he texted the two astronauts Monday and told them, “‘If you want me to stop this thing for any reason, say so. I will stop it in a heartbeat if you want me to.’ They both came back and they said, ‘We’re go for launch.'” Hurley and Behnken are scheduled to launch at 4:33 p.m. EDT from launch pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. The launch will be the first time a private company, rather than a national government, sends astronauts into orbit. “Team is performing additional pre-flight checkouts of Falcon 9, Crew Dragon, and the ground support system ahead of tomorrow’s Demo-2 mission,” SpaceX tweeted earlier Tuesday. The weather forecast for launch is 60 percent favorable, SpaceX added. “Dragon Dawn,” tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, with a time-lapse video of Crew Dragon on the launch pad next to the access arm that Hurley and Behnken will use to board the spacecraft. “I’ve often said that our astronauts are the best America has to offer,” Bridenstine tweeted Tuesday. Hurley and Behnken, he added, “are truly the best of us.” The launch is eagerly anticipated. “Looking forward to tomorrow’s historic mission – it’ll be a day all Americans and space fans everywhere will never forget! T minus 1 day and counting!,” Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin tweeted Tuesday. Speaking during a news briefing Tuesday, Bridenstine described the launch as “a unique opportunity” to bring all of America together in one moment in time. Both NASA and SpaceX have been diligent about making sure everyone in the launch loop knows they’re free to halt the countdown if there’s a concern, Bridenstine added. Some 45 seconds from liftoff the SpaceX launch director will give the final go after everyone has been polled on Wednesday. However, Bridenstine noted that NASA has the “right to intervene” if it sees something it disagrees with. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected at Kennedy for the planned liftoff, but “our highest priority” will remain the astronauts’ safety, according to Bridenstine. Launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will accelerate to approximately 17,000 mph, according to NASA, placing the capsule on course for the International Space Station. The duration of the astronauts’ stay on the International Space Station is yet to be determined. Under normal circumstances, large crowds would have been expected to witness the historic launch but, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, NASA has urged people to stay away. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the area near Kennedy Space Center for the last shuttle launch in July 2011, according to Spaceflight Now. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA recently agreed to pay Russian space agency Roscosmos $90 million for one final seat on one of its Soyuz rockets.

How exciting!!  Weather permitting, liftoff is under 4 hrs from now!  The President, First Lady, and Vice President will be in attendance.  For more, click on the text above.  Go SpaceX!!      🙂

SpaceX’s first astronaut launch breaking ground with new look: ‘It is really neat’

The first astronauts launched by SpaceX are breaking new ground for style by unveiling hip spacesuits, gull-wing Teslas and even a sleek rocketship with a black and white trim. The color coordination is credited to Elon Musk, the driving force behind SpaceX and Tesla who is also a science fiction fan. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken approved the “fresh new look,” The Associated Press reported on Monday. The pair will catch a ride to the launch pad in a Tesla Model X electric car. “It is really neat, and I think the biggest testament to that is my 10-year-old son telling me how cool I am now,” Hurley told the outlet. The 53-year-old noted “SpaceX has gone all out” on the capsule’s appearance. “And they’ve worked equally as hard to make the innards and the displays and everything else in the vehicle work to perfection,” Hurley added. According to the outlet, Hurley and Behnken will climb aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday, and both equipment and weather permitting, shoot into space. The move will mark the first astronaut launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center since the last shuttle flight in 2011. It will also mark the first attempt by a private company to send astronauts into orbit. Only governments in Russia, the U.S., and China have done so. SpaceX also shared the historic send-off deserves to look good. Musk, 48, named his rocket after the “Star Wars” Millennium Falcon. The capsule name stems from “Puff the Magic Dragon,” a jab from the tech entrepreneur aiming at his doubters when he first started SpaceX in 2002. And style wasn’t ignored in the launch. SpaceX designed and built its own custom-fit suits. “It’s important that the suits are comfortable and also are inspiring,” said SpaceX’s mission director Benji Reed. “But above all, it’s designed to keep the crew safe,” he shared. But the signature bulky, orange ascent and entry suits worn by shuttle astronauts have their own allure, insisted Behnken, 49. Both he and Hurley wore them for his two previous missions. Hollywood has also relied on the orange suits for movies like “Armageddon” and “Space Cowboys.” On launch day, Hurley and Behnken will get ready inside Kennedy’s remodeled crew quarters, which dates back to the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s. SpaceX techs will also help the astronauts into their one-piece, two-layer pressure suits. The men will also emerge through the same double doors previously used on July 16, 1969, by Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. The Operations and Checkout Building bear Armstrong’s name. Instead of the traditional Astrovan, the two will climb into the back seat of a Tesla Model X for the nine-mile ride to Launch Complex 39A, also known as the same pad used by the moonmen and most shuttle crews. It’s while they board the Tesla that they’ll see their wives and young sons for the last time before the flight. Making a comeback after three decades is NASA’s worm logo — wavy, futuristic-looking red letters spelling NASA, the “A” resembling rocket nose cones. The worm adorns the Astro-Tesla, Falcon and even the astronauts’ suits, along with NASA’s original blue meatball-shaped logo. The white-suited Hurley and Behnken will transfer from the white Tesla to the white Dragon atop the equally white Falcon 9. “It’s going to be quite a show,” said Reed.

And we’re excited to see it!  Launch is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, Wed. May 27th.  For more, click on the text above.  Go SpaceX!!      🙂

SpaceX launches station supplies, nails 50th rocket landing

SpaceX successfully launched another load of station supplies for NASA late Friday night and nailed its 50th rocket landing. The Falcon rocket blasted off with 4,300 pounds of equipment and experiments for the International Space Station. Just minutes later, the spent first-stage booster made a dramatic midnight landing back at Cape Canaveral, its return accompanied by sonic booms. “And the Falcon has landed for the 50th time in SpaceX history!” SpaceX engineer Jessica Anderson announced amid cheers at Mission Control. “What an amazing live view all the way to touchdown.” The Dragon capsule, meanwhile, hurtled toward a Monday rendezvous with the space station. It’s the 20th station delivery for SpaceX, which has launched nearly 100,000 pounds of goods to the orbiting outpost and returned nearly that much back to Earth since it began shipments in 2012. Northrop Grumman is NASA’s other commercial shipper. SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said it was the windiest conditions ever — 25 mph to 30 mph — for a booster landing at Cape Canaveral, but he wanted to push the envelope. The landing was the 50th successful touchdown of a SpaceX booster following liftoff, either on land or at sea. “Rocket will land in highest winds ever at Cape Canaveral tonight. This is intentional envelope expansion,” Musk tweeted following touchdown. The company’s first booster landing was in 2015, intended as a cost-saving, rocket-recycling move. Both the latest booster and Dragon capsule were recycled from previous flights. Among the science experiments flying: an analysis of running shoe cushioning in weightlessness by Adidas, a water droplet study by Delta Faucet Co. striving for better showerhead water conservation, 3D models of heart and intestinal tissue, and 320 snippets of grape vines by Space Cargo Unlimited, the same Luxembourg startup that sent 12 bottles of red wine to the space station last November for a year of high-altitude aging. The Dragon also contained treats for the two Americans and one Russian at the space station: grapefruit, oranges, apples, tomatoes, Skittles, Hot Tamales and Reese’s Pieces. As for packing the capsule for launch, no extra precautions were taken because of the global coronavirus outbreak, according to NASA. The usual stringent precautions were taken to avoid passing along any germs or diseases to the space station crew. The doctor-approved procedures have proven effective in the past, officials noted. This is the last of SpaceX’s original Dragon cargo capsules. Going forward, the company will launch supplies in second-generation Dragons, roomier and more elaborate versions built for crews. The company aims to launch NASA astronauts this spring. The California-based SpaceX also teaming up with other companies to fly tourists and private researchers to the space station, as well as high solo orbits in the next couple years.

Go SpaceX!!!     🙂

SpaceX to Fly Passengers On Private Trip Around the Moon in 2018

SpaceX will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in 2018, the company’s founder Elon Musk announced Monday (Feb. 27). The private spaceflight company will use its Falcon Heavy rocket to send the two paying passengers into space aboard one of the company’s Dragon spacecraft. The two private citizens, who have not yet been named, approached SpaceX about taking a trip around the moon, and have “already paid a significant deposit” for the cost of the mission, according to a statement from the company. The names of the two individuals will be announced later, pending the result of initial health tests to ensure their fitness for the mission, the statement said. “Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration,” SpaceX representatives said in the statement. The two passengers will be the only people on board what is expected to be about a weeklong trip around the moon, according to Musk, who spoke with reporters during a phone conference today. “This would be a long loop around the moon … It would skim the surface of the moon, go quite a bit further out into deep space and then loop back to Earth,” Musk said during the teleconference. “So I’m guessing, distance-wise, maybe [300,000] or 400,000 miles [about 500,000 to 650,000 kilometers].” The moon flight is scheduled to launch after SpaceX flies NASA astronauts to the International Space Station as a part of the Commercial Crew Program. Right now, SpaceX is planning to make an uncrewed flight of its crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft to the space station this year, and its first crewed flights are expected to happen in mid-2018, according to Musk. (However, a recent report suggests that those dates maybe pushed back.) That means the Falcon 9 and Dragon crew capsule will be approved for human spaceflight by NASA before the moon mission takes place. The Falcon Heavy rocket consists of a Falcon 9 rocket with two additional first stage boosters strapped on. The integrated Falcon Heavy and Dragon crew capsule will undergo an FAA evaluation process for the moon flight, Musk said. Musk also said that NASA “always has first priority,” and that if the agency wanted its own astronauts to be the first people to fly on a “mission of this nature,” then “of course NASA would take priority.” The crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft will operate, in large part, autonomously, so the passengers would have to train for emergency procedures but would not be in charge of piloting the spacecraft, Musk said. The crew capsule will require some upgrades for the deep-space flight, but Musk said those would be limited mainly to a communications system built for much longer distances, rather than the relatively short trips to the space station. When asked about the ballpark cost of the mission, Musk said, “I … can’t say the exact cost, that’s confidential. It would be comparable to maybe a little more than what the cost of a crewed mission to the space station would be.” NASA currently pays about $80 million per seat on the three-person Russian Soyuz vehicle. SpaceX’s first commercial crew contract with the agency is for $2.6 billion; the company is required to provide at least two and up to six flights to the station on the Dragon capsule, which can carry seven passengers at a time. That breaks down to anywhere from $1.3 billion to $433 million per flight. Musk said the moon trip will contribute to SpaceX’s ultimate goal of establishing permanent Mars colonies. “The goal for SpaceX, from its founding in 2002, has been to accelerate … space exploration, ultimately with the idea of a self-sustaining civilization on Mars and making humanity multiplanetary,” he said. “So a critical step along the way is getting to know what it’s like to have people in deep space.”

Very cool!!  Go SpaceX!!   🙂

World’s most powerful rocket even more powerful than first projected

When it comes to the Space X program, Elon Musk can’t help but boast about the system’s capabilities. This time around the fearless leader of the SpaceX program is crowing about the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, both of which are turning out to be stronger than initially projected. According to updated specs recently posted on the Space X website, the Falcon 9 rocket is capable of carrying up to 50,265 pounds to a low earth orbit. This is a significant jump from the 29,000 pounds previously referenced for the space vehicle. The Falcon Heavy, which Musk describes as a beast, is capable of hauling 119,930 pounds (54 metric tons) up from the previously projected 116,845 pounds. Musk confirmed on Twitter that these values were obtained through more careful testing of the spacecraft and did not involve changes to the hardware of the systems. Hauling capacity isn’t the only parameter receiving a boost. According to Musk, the company also plans to increase the rate liftoff thrust of both the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy. If all goes as planned, the Falcon 9’s liftoff thrust will be increased later this year to 1.71 million pounds up from the current 1.3 million. The Falcon Heavy already measured a slight boost in thrust following testing, increasing from 5.1 million pounds on liftoff from the previously estimated 4.5 million. To put that value into perspective, the thrust of a single Falcon Heavy is equal to the combined thrust of eighteen 747 aircraft operating at full thrust. Moreover, this value is twice the thrust of any other rocket currently being used, making the Falcon Heavy the world’s most powerful rocket. Musk hopes to improve its rocket technology in the coming years as it plans for a 2018 trip to Mars. The company previously targeted 2022 for it first Mars landing but recently moved up that date by a few years. This first Mars trip will see the transport and landing of an unmanned Dragon capsule with future Red Dragon launches bringing people, instrumentation, and more to the red planet.

Very cool!!   Go SpaceX!!     🙂

Tourist’s video of the SpaceX rocket on the road looks straight out of Star Wars (Or Spaceballs)

SpaceX recently landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the ocean, making history in the process. And ever since that landing, the Falcon 9 has been slowly making its way back to the launch complex that SpaceX leases at Kennedy Space Center, where the company will perform tests to see if it’s in good enough shape to fly again later this spring. It appears that journey is now complete. A Kennedy Space Center tour group found itself shoulder-to-shoulder with the rocket this afternoon, and one of the tour-goers shot a quick video of the prone Falcon 9 passing by their bus (seen above). The woman behind the camera even captured the bemused reaction of their tour guide. “They gonna reuse that thing,” he can be heard saying with a drawl. The closeup footage is a fascinating reminder of the enormity of the first stage of Falcon 9, which sometimes gets lost in all the footage and photos that are taken at a distance. But the manner in which it’s presented makes it seem almost endless, a lot like the opening scene of the original Star Wars..Or, better yet, the opening shot of Spaceballs.

To see the video of this Falcon 9, click on the text above.   Go SpaceX!!!     🙂

SpaceX rocket makes hard landing on California barge

The first stage of a SpaceX rocket that delivered an ocean-monitoring satellite into orbit made a hard landing on an ocean barge and broke a support leg. SpaceX announcers said the Falcon 9 was not upright after reaching the 300-by-170 foot landing pad west of San Diego on Sunday morning. No further details were immediately available. The rocket launched as planned at 10:42 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Los Angeles, sending its second stage and a Jason-3 satellite into orbit. The failed landing is a blow to the California-based company’s plan to reduce launch costs by reusing rockets rather than having them fall into the ocean. The mission of Jason-3 is to continue an unbroken record of more than two decades of sea level measurements from orbit.