Page 3 of 1129

Videos: SpaceX Returns Falcon 9 to Flight, Lands on Drone Ship

48 Comments

SpaceX successfully returned its Falcon 9 rocket to flight today, orbiting 10 Iridium satellites and landing the first stage on an off-shore drone ship. The launch took place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

ASAP’s Report Card on NASA Safety

Comments
International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel
Annual Report for 2016
January 11, 2017
[Full Report – PDF]

Excerpts

Report Summary

Twelve topic areas, highlighted in this report, are summarized in the table below. They have been broken out to focus attention on individual topics that the Panel feels are worthy of note.

Continue reading ‘ASAP’s Report Card on NASA Safety’

SpaceX’s Shotwell to be Deposed in Whistleblower Lawsuit

Comments
Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell will be deposed in a lawsuit filed by former employee  Jason Blasdell, an avionics test technician who claims he was fired in 2014 after blowing the whistle on managers for cutting corners on tests.

He received consistently positive reviews from management for his work, his lawsuit states. However, he began seeing safety issues related to the testing procedures of rocket parts, leading him to question the quality of the testing and the risks it posed not just for possible rocket explosions, but for the potential loss of human life as well, according to his attorneys’ court papers.

Blasdell complained to Shotwell, to SpaceX founder Elon Musk and to the company’s human resources department that there were potentially dangerous deviations from protocol that his managers were pressuring test technicians to make, his lawsuit alleges.

Shotwell, 53, told Blasdell during an October 2013 meeting that she would investigate his concerns and hire an outside consultant to investigate, the suit claims. Blasdell followed up in early 2014 when he inquired of Shotwell by email whether the consultant had been hired.

“Ms. Shotwell never responded to plaintiff’s inquiry, but instead wrote a separate email to plaintiff criticizing the manner in which plaintiff communicated with management,” according to the court papers….

In their papers, SpaceX attorneys called Blasdell’s lawsuit “baseless.”

Read the full story.

SpaceX Return to Flight Set for Saturday

Comments

spacex_iridium1_patchHAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a global leader in mobile voice and data satellite communications. The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.

SpaceX is targeting launch of Iridium-1 from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window opens on January 14 at 9:54:39 am PST or 5:54:39 pm UTC. The satellites will begin deployment about an hour after launch.

The webcast is available here.

Continue reading ‘SpaceX Return to Flight Set for Saturday’

WSJ Report: SpaceX Recorded $260 Million Loss in 2015

27 Comments
Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

The Wall Street Journal managed to get a hold of some internal SpaceX financial documents. The results are very interesting:

  • SpaceX lost $260 million in 2015, the result of an explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket that grounded the rocket for six months;
  • Elon Musk’s company ended 2015 with $1.3 billion in cash, primarily from a $1 billion investment by Google and Fidelity investments “as well as huge upfront payments for development work and launch reservations”;
  • Although SpaceX’s revenues peaked at $1 billion in 2014, its operating profit was thin;
  • SpaceX projected $55 million in operating profit for 2016 based on launching 20 times, but it only flew eight times before a Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad on Sept. 1 and grounded the booster;
  • SpaceX projected launching 27 times in 2017 with an increase to 44 in 2018;
  • Despite a long-standing claim that the SpaceX was “profitable and cash-flow positive,” the company had an operating loss in every quarter in 2015 and a “negative cash flow of roughly $15 million”;
  • SpaceX removed the claim that it was “profitable and cash-flow positive” three weeks after a Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad on Sept. 1, indicating that it likely lost money in 2016;
  • The company is betting big on its 4,000-satellite Internet business, expecting it to generate annual operating profits of $15 billion to $20 billion by 2025; and,
  • The satellite Internet business is Musk’s big hope for funding his plan to colonize Mars.

Read the full story. (If you hit a paywall with this link, type the story headline into Google and then click on the link that comes up.)

Russians Say Progress Vehicle Brought Down by FOD

Comments

Roscosmos_logoMOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) –Roscosmos emergency committee have reviewed investigation results of the contingency with Soyuz-U and cargo Progress MS-04 December launch from the Baikonur Space Center.

The cause of the accident was off-nominal mechanical separation of the launch vehicle’s third stage and the cargo spacecraft. The members of the emergency committee established the following:

  • The most likely cause of the contigency was the third stage liquid oxygen tank opening as a result of exposure of 11D55 engine destruction elements that occurred in result of fire and further destruction of the oxidizer compound pump.
  • The cause of the oxidizer compound pump’s fire could be possible in case of foreign particles entry into the pump cavity or possible violation 11D55 engine assembly technology.

The plan of priority actions to ensure the next Progress MS-05 secure launch will be submitted in the near future.

ASAP Report Targets Concerns Over SpaceX Propellant Loading

13 Comments
Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

A new NASA reports says that while Boeing and SpaceX are making progress on their commercial crew spacecraft, but a number of key technical challenges remain and there is “a very real possibility” of “a substantial slip in the schedule” in the already delayed programs.

In its 2016 Annual Report, NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) said it was concerned about SpaceX’s “load and go” approach of placing the load aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft prior to loading the Falcon 9 booster with propellants, particularly in the wake of the loss of a booster in September while it was being fueled.

Continue reading ‘ASAP Report Targets Concerns Over SpaceX Propellant Loading’

Starliner Simulator Arrives at NASA Johnson

Comments
Boeing Mission Simulator for CST-100 arrives at JSC.

Boeing Mission Simulator for CST-100 arrives at JSC.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — As commercial crew astronauts climb inside Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for the first time atop of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, there will be something very familiar about what they are doing.

This is because of a new simulator that arrived today at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The Boeing Mission Simulator is a full-scale mock-up of the Starliner outfitted with the same state-of-the-art interior as the real spacecraft. NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams worked with the simulator after its assembly in St. Louis before it was shipped to Texas.

Continue reading ‘Starliner Simulator Arrives at NASA Johnson’

NASA Selects Tyvak for Series of CubeSat Pathfinder Demo Missions

Comments
Pathfinder technology demonstrator CubeSat (Credit: NASA)

Pathfinder technology demonstrator CubeSat (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program has selected Tyvak Nanosatellite Systems of Irvine, California to provide a series of small spacecraft for its Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator (PTD) missions. Using government-furnished technology payloads for a series of flight demonstrations, the small spacecraft has the potential to lower mission costs and technical risks for future missions.

Continue reading ‘NASA Selects Tyvak for Series of CubeSat Pathfinder Demo Missions’

Asteroid Sleuths Go Back to the Future

Comments
Asteroid 2016 WJ1 (Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

Asteroid 2016 WJ1 (Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Careful sleuthing through decade-old images has enabled ESA’s asteroid team to decide that a newly discovered space rock poses little threat of hitting Earth any time soon.

Spotting a previously unknown asteroid for the first time always raises the big question: is there a risk it will impact Earth?

Continue reading ‘Asteroid Sleuths Go Back to the Future’

China Introduces Commercial Smallsat Launcher

23 Comments

china_flagChina introduced a new commercial rocket this week aimed at the small satellite market with the successful launch of three satellites.

The solid fuel Kuaizhou 1A rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Monday. It carried the JL-1 commercial Earth observation satellite and two experimental CubeSats named Canton-1 and XS-Y1, according to the official Xinhau news agency.

It was the third flight for the Kuaizhou booster, but the first commercial launch under Expace, which is a commercial subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.

Kuaizhou 1A is capable of lifting up to 200 ( 441 lb) into sun synchronous orbit and 300 kg (661 lb) into low Earth orbit. Expace is targeting the booster at the booming small satellite market.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Lockheed Martin to Build Lucy Asteroid Spacecraft

Comments
An artist’s conception of the Lucy spacecraft (left) flying by the Trojan Eurybates – one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. Trojans are fossils of planet formation and so will supply important clues to the earliest history of the solar system. (Right) Psyche, the first mission to the metal world 16 Psyche will map features, structure, composition, and magnetic field, and examine a landscape unlike anything explored before. Psyche will teach us about the hidden cores of the Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus. (Credit: SwRI, SSL/Peter Rubin)

An artist’s conception of the Lucy spacecraft (left) flying by the Trojan Eurybates – one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. Trojans are fossils of planet formation and so will supply important clues to the earliest history of the solar system. (Right) Psyche, the first mission to the metal world 16 Psyche will map features, structure, composition, and magnetic field, and examine a landscape unlike anything explored before. Psyche will teach us about the hidden cores of the Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus. (Credit: SwRI, SSL/Peter Rubin)

DENVER (Lockheed Martin PR)  — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been selected to design, build and operate the spacecraft for NASA’s Lucy mission. One of NASA’s two new Discovery Program missions, Lucy will perform the first reconnaissance of the Jupiter Trojan asteroids orbiting the sun in tandem with the gas giant. The Lucy spacecraft will launch in 2021 to study six of these exciting worlds.

Continue reading ‘Lockheed Martin to Build Lucy Asteroid Spacecraft’

DSI Hires CEO

Comments
Bill Miller

Bill Miller

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Deep Space Industries is excited to announce that Bill Miller will be joining the company as chief executive officer to position DSI for rapid growth in the coming years. With an impeccable track record of growing technology companies, Bill brings game-changing approaches, solutions, and perspectives to DSI through his experience in defining, developing, and delivering results for dynamic organizations.

“Bill is a proven difference-maker and change agent who knows how to deliver solutions by crafting a vision and executing strategy that leads to concrete results,” said Rick Tumlinson, DSI’s chair of the board of DSI. “He brings the exact type of leadership and experience that will be instrumental to the growth of DSI in the coming years.”

Continue reading ‘DSI Hires CEO’

Google Could Sell Terra Bella to Planet Lab

Comments

planet_labs_logoIt looks as if Google’s foray into satellites could be short lived:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is in talks to sell its satellite business to competitor Planet Labs Inc., a satellite-imagery startup that is seeking a new round of funding to help pay for the possible acquisition, according to people familiar with the talks.

The sale of its satellite-imagery unit, Terra Bella, would be a rapid about-face for Google, which has recently shed some of its bolder ventures. Google bought the company for $500 million in 2014, when it was known as Skybox Imaging.

Discussions about the possible acquisition, which were first reported by Bloomberg News on Monday, are focused on a possible cash plus equity deal, the people said. Planet, founded in 2011, is seeking to raise funds to help finance the deal and pay for continuing operations, one of the people said.

Read the full story.

Save

European Southern Observatory to Search for Planets in Alpha Centauri

Comments

european_southern_observatory_eso_logoBreakthrough Initiatives Press Release

ESO has signed an agreement with the Breakthrough Initiatives to adapt the Very Large Telescope instrumentation in Chile to conduct a search for planets in the nearby star system Alpha Centauri. Such planets could be the targets for an eventual launch of miniature space probes by the Breakthrough Starshot initiative.

ESO, represented by the Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, has signed an agreement with the Breakthrough Initiatives, represented by Pete Worden, Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. The agreement provides funds for the VISIR (VLT Imager and Spectrometer for mid-Infrared) instrument, mounted at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to be modified in order to greatly enhance its ability to search for potentially habitable planets around Alpha Centauri, the closest stellar system to the Earth. The agreement also provides for telescope time to allow a careful search programme to be conducted in 2019.

Continue reading ‘European Southern Observatory to Search for Planets in Alpha Centauri’