SpaceX Loses Lawsuit Against U.S. Air Force Over Starship Funding

Starship lifts off on a point to point flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A federal judge had denied SpaceX’s claim that the U.S. Air Force should have provided development funding for its Starship booster, according to media reports.

USAF awarded $2.2 billion in contracts in October 2918 to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to help the companies develop new rockets to launch national security payloads. SpaceX’s proposal for Starship funding was rejected.

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Boeing’s Starliner Flight Scheduled for No Earlier Than December

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing continue to make progress toward the company’s second uncrewed flight test of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft prior to flying astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Commercial Crew Program currently is targeting no earlier than December 2020 for launch of the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) pending hardware readiness, flight software qualification, and launch vehicle and space station manifest priorities.

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ULA Wins Multi-Year Competitive Contract Award to Launch Critical National Security Space Missions for U.S. Space Force

Artist’s conception of Vulcan Centaur rocket. (Credit: ULA)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Aug. 7, 2020 (ULA PR) – The U.S. Space Force announced today that United Launch Alliance (ULA) was awarded a firm, fixed-price, indefinite-delivery contract to launch 60 percent of the missions on its newest launch procurement contract. This contract resulted from a competitive award under the Space Force’s National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 procurement.

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Flight Over the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Landing Site

Video Caption: This video shows Jezero crater, the landing site of the NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on the Red Planet, based on images from ESA’s Mars Express mission. The planned landing area is marked with an orange ellipse.

Launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on 30 July 2020 on board an Atlas V rocket, the Perseverance rover will land on 18 February 2021 in Jezero crater.

An impact crater with a diameter of about 45 km, Jezero is located at the rim of the giant Isidis impact basin. Morphological evidence suggests that the crater once hosted a lake, some 3.5 billion years ago.

Jezero possesses an inlet- and an outlet channel. The inlet channel discharges into a fan-delta deposit, containing water-rich minerals such as smectite clays. Scientists believe that the lake was relatively long lived because the delta may have required 1 to 10 million years to reach its thickness and size.

Other studies conclude that the lake did not experience periods of important water-level fluctuations and that it was formed by a continuous surface runoff. This makes Jezero crater to a prime target for the search for potential signs of microbial life, because organic molecules are very well preserved in river deltas and lake sediments.

A recent study of the ancient lakeshores, diverse minerals and violent volcanism of Jezero crater based on data from ESA’s Mars Express mission is available here: https://bit.ly/MarsExpressHelpsUncove…

The animation was created using an image mosaic made from four single orbit observations obtained by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on Mars Express between 2004 and 2008.

The mosaic combines data from the HRSC nadir and colour channels; the nadir channel is aligned perpendicular to the surface of Mars, as if looking straight down at the surface.

The mosaic image was then combined with topography information from the stereo channels of HRSC to generate a three-dimensional landscape, which was then recorded from different perspectives, as with a movie camera, to render the flight shown in the video.

Copyright:
Animation: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
Music: Björn Schreiner
Soundtrack logo: Alicia Neeseman

NASA Launches Mars 2020 Mission to Red Planet

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover onboard launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Thursday, July 30, 2020, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Perseverance rover is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

An United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V roared off a launch pad in Florida on Thursday, sending the Mars Perseverance rover to a landing on the Red Planet next February.

Atlas V lifted off on schedule at 7:50 EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California received a signal from the spacecraft about 1 hour 25 minutes after launch.

Perseverance will explore Jezero crater and collect samples for later retrieval and return to Earth by a joint U.S.-European mission planned for later this decade.

Perseverance carries a small helicopter, Ingenuity, that will become the first vehicle to fly on another world. The rover also includes an experiment that will produce oxygen from carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere.

It was the third and final mission to Mars sent during this launch window. China launched an orbiter, lander and rover and the United Arab Emirates launched an orbiter earlier in July.

Weather Looks Good for Mars 2020 Launch on Thursday

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover waits to be lifted onto its Atlas V launch vehicle at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2020. (Credits: NASA/KSC)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — With less than 24 hours to go until launch, the weather is doing its part to cooperate.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron is continuing to predict an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions for the Thursday, July 30, liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, carrying NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. Primary weather concerns for launch are cumulus and thick clouds.

Perseverance is scheduled to blast off Thursday morning from Space Launch Complex 41 at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The two-hour window opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, is managing the launch.

Follow along at blogs.nasa.gov/Mars2020 for a preview of live countdown and launch coverage, starting tomorrow at 7 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Mars 2020 Mission Set to Launch on Thursday Morning

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting 7:50 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 30, for the launch of its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is approximately two hours, with a launch opportunity every five minutes.

Live launch coverage will begin at 7 a.m., on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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ULA Atlas V Set to Launch Mars 2020 Mission for NASA

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover waits to be lifted onto its Atlas V launch vehicle at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2020. (Credits: NASA/KSC)

Launch to Mark ULA’s 20th Mission to the Red Planet

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., July 27, 2020 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch NASA’s Mars 2020 mission with the Perseverance rover. The launch is on track for July 30 at Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch is planned for 7:50 a.m. EDT at the opening of a two-hour launch window. The live launch broadcast begins at 7 a.m. EDT on NASA TV and at www.ulalaunch.com.

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Register for the Mars 2020 Virtual NASA Social

In February 2021, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover and NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (shown in an artist’s concept) will be the agency’s two newest explorers on Mars. Both were named by students as part of an essay contest. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Launching to Mars is hard — and in these times, even harder — but NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover team has met the challenge. This robotic astrobiologist and scientist is headed to the Red Planet to seek signs of ancient life, pave the way for human explorers, and collect rock and soil samples for future return to Earth. We’re almost at the finish line to launch: final preparations are underway, as the rover and its Atlas V rocket get ready for liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 30, 2020.

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NASA Invites Public to Share Excitement of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Launch

As seen in this artist’s concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, which is targeted for 7:50 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 30, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Passes Flight Readiness Review

In February 2021, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover and NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (shown in an artist’s concept) will be the agency’s two newest explorers on Mars. Both were named by students as part of an essay contest. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission cleared its Flight Readiness Review Wednesday, an important milestone on its way to the launch pad. The meeting was an opportunity for the Mars 2020 team and launch vehicle provider United Launch Alliance to report on the readiness of the spacecraft, along with the Atlas V rocket, flight and ground hardware, software, personnel, and procedures. The daily launch window on Thursday, July 30, opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT.

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Northrop Grumman Delivers 3 GEM 63 Rocket Motors for ULA’s Atlas V

Northrop Grumman delivered its GEM 63 rocket motors from Magna, Utah to Florida for United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

MAGNA, Utah, July 21, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has delivered three of its 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 63) for United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

The three motors were shipped from the Northrop Grumman facility in Magna to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and will be used as strap-on boosters to augment thrust on Atlas V.

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Attached to Atlas V Rocket

The nose cone containing the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover sits atop a motorized payload transporter at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2020. (Credits: NASA/KSC)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has been attached to the top of the rocket that will send it toward the Red Planet this summer. Encased in the nose cone that will protect it during launch, the rover and the rest of the Mars 2020 spacecraft – the aeroshell, cruise stage, and descent stage – were affixed to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster on Tuesday, July 7, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Central Florida.

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The Launch Is Approaching for NASA’s Next Mars Rover, Perseverance

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Red Planet’s surface has been visited by eight NASA spacecraft. The ninth will be the first that includes gathering Mars samples for future return to Earth. 

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is just over a month from its July 20 targeted launch date. The rover’s astrobiology mission will seek signs of past microscopic life on Mars, explore the geology of the Jezero Crater landing site, and demonstrate key technologies to help prepare for future robotic and human exploration. And the rover will do all that while collecting the first samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) for return to Earth by a set of future missions.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Starlink Launch Rescheduled for Tuesday Morning

Sixty Starlink satellites separate from a Falcon 9 second stage on April 22, 2020. (Credit: SpaceX website)

UPDATE: The launch has been postponed until after the Crew Dragon Demo-2 launch scheduled for May 27.

SpaceX’s launch of a Falcon 9 booster with 60 satellites aboard that was originally scheduled for today (Sunday) has been postponed until Tuesday, May 19 at 3:10 a.m. EDT if the weather permits it.

United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch of the U.S. Space Force’s X-37B vehicle was scrubbed on Saturday due to inclement weather. The booster successfully launched the space plane on Sunday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX had rescheduled the launch for Monday. However, the flight slipped a day due to a tropic depression developing off the southeast coast, the company said.

“SpaceX teams will continue monitoring launch and landing weather conditions,” the company tweeted.

Starlink is a constellation designed to provide high-speed broadband services around the world.