Update: SpaceX scrubbed for Thursday to update satellite software and make additional checks. Next launch attempt will be in about one week.
SpaceX was forced to cancel a Falcon 9 launch with 60 Starlink satellites on board on Wednesday night due to high upper-level winds. Tonight’s launch window opens at 10:30 p.m. EDT, or 2:30 UTC on May 17, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 17, or 4:00 UTC. The launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast. The ground weather forecast is 90 percent go for launch.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a media teleconference during which he describes elements of the Starlink satellite constellation, which is designed to provide high-speed broadband and other communications on a global basis. Here are the highlights:
although the constellation could eventually number nearly 12,000 satellites, it would be economically viable with about 1,000 spacecraft;
Musk said “it looks like we have sufficient capital to get to an operational level”;
Starlink would be able to provide coverage to limited areas of the globe with 400 satellites, which would require a total of seven launches;
the constellation would be able to provide coverage for the United States with 12 launches, most of the world’s population with 24, and the entire planet with 30 launches;
the 60 satellites being launched are equipped with phased array antennas and ion propulsion units that use krypton instead of more expensive xenon gas;
the spacecraft do not have inter-satellite communications links, which will be added to future iterations of the spacecraft;
Starlink satellites should last four to five years in orbit before they burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere;
spacecraft will be able to detect and avoid orbital debris;
ground terminals are about the size of a small or medium pizza and use phased array, electronically steered antennas that can switch between satellites in under a thousandth of a second with a latency of under 20 milliseconds;
SpaceX has not signed up any customers yet, but is targeting telecommunications companies, governments, maritime industries, aviation and under served areas of the globe;
Musk sees Starlink as providing a revenue stream to fund SpaceX’s Starship launch system and his dream of establishing settlements on Mars;
annual revenues could approach more than $30 billion per year, 10 times the approximately $3 billion that the launch side of SpaceX’s business brings in; and,
60 satellites weigh about 18.5 tons, which is the heaviest payload ever launched by Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy.
ZURICH (STARMUS PR) — The STARMUS festival announces the 2019 winners of the Stephen Hawking Medal, one of the world’s most celebrated science communication awards. This year’s recipients are:
Elon Musk for his astounding accomplishments in space travel and for humanity
Brian Eno for his contribution to the popularisation of science
Apollo 11, a documentary by Todd Douglas Miller, for its breakthrough look at history’s most famous space mission.
STARMUS will announce the winners at a press event in Zurich on May 10th, with the medal ceremony to follow on June 24 at the STARMUS V festival, also in Zurich. Celebrated scientist and educator Bill Nye will host the ceremony, and scheduled attendees include a remarkable roster of science and space luminaries, including Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins and six other Apollo mission astronauts.
Elon Musk tweeted this photo of 60 Starlink satellites inside the fairing of a Falcon 9 rocket scheduled to launch on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The satellites are part of a constellation of nearly 12,000 spacecraft designed to provide fast global broadband services.
During a presentation in Washington, DC, today, Jeff Bezos laid out a bold vision humans living in giant cylindrical floating space colonies first envisioned by Gerard K. O’Neill four decades ago.
On a more immediate, practical front, the Amazon.com founder produced updated concept art for Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander he says would be perfect for landing astronauts at the south pole of the moon by 2024 as the Trump Administration has proposed.
Nearly a century after his death, Ernest Shackleton is back in the news after Blue Origin tweeted a photo of the Antarctic explorer’s ship, Endurance, with the date 5.9.19.
The tweet has fed speculation that Jeff Bezos’ company might announce a mission next week to a crater at the south pole of the moon that is named after Shackleton. (For more about that, see Why Everyone Interested in Shackleton Crater.)
You might also be asking: Who was Shackleton? What did he accomplish at the South Pole? Why is a crater on the moon named after him? And what does all this have to do with Bezos?
All excellent questions. Let’s find more about one of history’s greatest explorers.
SpaceX provided more information today about the explosion that destroyed a Crew Dragon capsule on the test on April 20 as Elon Musk’s company prepares to launch a Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday.
During a pre-flight conference on Thursday, Vice President of Mission Assurance Hans Koenigsmann said the Crew Dragon capsule powered up as expected for the test. Engineers then fired the small Draco maneuvering thrusters successfully.
The explosion occurred during the activation of the SuperDraco abort system but prior to the firing of the engines. Koenigsmann said the problem was not with the thrusters themselves, which have been tested about 600 times.
Koenigsmann said investigators are still trying to piece together precisely what happened. The investigation is being led by SpaceX with the assistance of NASA.
The destroyed Crew Dragon capsule flew a flight test to the ISS in March. SpaceX planned to use it in an in-flight abort test that had been scheduled for June.
The abort test is one of the last major milestones prior to a crewed flight test to the space station. That was nominally scheduled for July, but unofficial account indicate it was going to slip several months.
Koenigsmann said he did not know what the impact of the accident on the schedule. He noted that SpaceX has a number of Crew Dragon spacecraft in various stages of production.
Meanwhile, SpaceX is preparing to launch a cargo Dragon resupply mission to the space station on Friday. Liftoff is set for 3:11 a.m. EDT (0711 GMT ) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The launch was delayed for two days due to a power problem on the station that was corrected over night.
The weather forecast is not looking very good for the Friday morning launch.
SpaceX is seeking to raise $400 million in its latest round of fundraising. According to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SpaceX has raised 11 percent of the total:
Total Amount Offered: $399,999,936 Total Amount Sold: $43,999,332 Total Remaining to be Sold: $356,000,604
Five investors have participated in the funding round thus far.
Elon Musk’s company is preparing to launch its Starlink constellation of satellites, which could eventually include nearly 12,000 spacecraft that would provide high-speed Internet and other communications services. The launch of the first satellites is scheduled for no earlier than May.
SpaceX has also begun testing its Raptor engine, which will power its Starship vehicle and super heavy booster.
Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has jumped into a crowded field of companies seeking to provide high-speed broadband, data and other communications services to the entire globe.
Amazon’s Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites brings the total number of spacecraft in the 16 announced systems to 20,241 spacecraft. The competition includes SpaceX, Boeing, Telesat, SES and government-backed companies in China and Russia.
After a day worth of hard work, the workers at #SpaceX have finally installed the first raptor on #StarHopper . Congratulations to Elon musk and all the hard workers at SpaceX. It’s almost time for StarHopper to purr like a kitten🐱🔥🚀. pic.twitter.com/YIhbNhqJEk
You can deep throttle on single shaft system by choking flow of fuel or oxygen between pump & combustion chamber. Problem is more with the tiny rocket engine that powers the pump, called a gas generator. That has to throttle *way* deeper than the main chamber.
Raptor is *very* complex, even for a staged combustion engine. We’re simplifying as much as possible with each iteration. Throttling down to ~50% is hard, but manageable. Going to 25% would be extremely tough, but hopefully not needed.
Editor’s Note: Rogozin’s Twitter account is limited to approved followers, not the general public. The Kremlin has appointed a minder over at Roscosmos to tamp down on the general director’s public comments.
My guess is that after the dust up over Roscosmos’ tweet after Crew Dragon docked, someone (Putin?) talked to (yelled at?) Rogozin and made sure he (his political minder?) made sure something nice was tweeted for the landing.
Elon Musk’s top secret federal security clearance is under review by the Pentagon, after his pot-smoking appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast last September, according to a U.S. official pic.twitter.com/55zNpffqcC
Editor’s Note: The investigation might not be only about the pot smoking. Investigators could be examining unconfirmed published reports that say Musk has used cocaine, LSD and ecstasy. I stress these stories are unconfirmed, but they have been circulating for many months now. And Musk’s behavior over the past year has been erratic and even bizarre.