Tag: Elon Musk

SpaceX’s Shotwell to be Deposed in Whistleblower Lawsuit

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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 Falcon 9 Return to Flight Set for Monday

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Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 booster with 10 Iridium communications satellites on board from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Monday at 10:22 a.m. PST.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has Tweeted that a pre-flight engine firing conducted on Thursday was successful. The FAA also issued a license today for SpaceX to perform the launch. The approval includes

The launch will be the first Falcon 9 flight since a booster caught fire and exploded on the launch pad on Sept. 1. The accident, which SpaceX says was caused by a breach in a second stage helium tank, destroyed the $195 million Amos-6 communications satellite.

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The Year Ahead in Space

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Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.

A New Direction for NASA?

NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.

Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.

Continue reading ‘The Year Ahead in Space’

Arianespace Signed 13 Launch Contracts in Past Year

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Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

While Elon Musk and SpaceX have been dominating the media spotlight with their spectacular Falcon 9 first-stage landings and even more spectacular launch pad firexplanomaly, Arianespace has quietly went about the task of putting satellites into orbit and signing new launch contracts.

Continue reading ‘Arianespace Signed 13 Launch Contracts in Past Year’

Video of 3 SpaceX Employees Being Struck By Car Outside Headquarters

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A news report about three SpaceX employees who were hit by a car on Dec. 17 after leaving work. The incident occurred at 2:15 a.m. About three hours later, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted the following Tweets:

A source tells Parabolic Arc that traffic on Crenshaw Boulevard where the employees were struck is heavy. During the day, crossing guards help guide people across the street. Musk has wanted a tunnel built under the street to make it easier and safer for employees to cross.

The Tweets set off a wave of media speculation that envisioned a frustrated Musk sitting in LA traffic devising a way of disrupting the tunneling business. Some speculated the tunneling was needed for the Hyperloop rapid transit systems; others thought it would be useful for underground martian settlements.

The source said it was disturbing that Musk was tweeting about how much traffic was bothering him, and talking about a new business venture, while making no reference to the accident or his injured employees in the hospital. The tweets came off as crass and unfeeling.

The three female employees survived the accident. Two of them were back in the hospital on Thursday for additional surgery, according to the NBC News 4 report. You can read more here: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Hit-and-Run-Video-Hawthorne-Crosswalk-Search-SpaceX-408680785.html

Video of Elon Musk & Team Watching First Falcon 9 First Stage Landing at Cape

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Video Caption: With unprecedented access to Elon Musk and his SpaceX team, witness the historic landing of a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral.

Trump Adds Commercial Space Advocate to NASA Transition Team

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Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

President elect Donald Trump has named commercial space backer Charles Miller to the NASA landing team amid reports that similar minded advocates will be added to transition group.

Miller is president of NexGen Space LLC, a company that advises clients on commercial, civil and national security space.  He previously served as NASA’s senior advisor for commercial space.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump officials are also working on appointing Alan Stern, chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and Alan Lindenmoyer, who formerly managed NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program. Both nominations are in the process of being vetted for conflicts of interest.

Continue reading ‘Trump Adds Commercial Space Advocate to NASA Transition Team’

Source: Musk Tweets on Tunneling Unrelated to Mars, Hyperloop

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So, Elon Musk’s cryptic Tweets on Saturday about getting into the tunneling business has had yours truly and many others speculating about what he’s up to this time. Is it for the Hyperloop? Underground colonies on Mars?

Nothing so grandiose, apparently. They were inspired by something much darker, actually.

Continue reading ‘Source: Musk Tweets on Tunneling Unrelated to Mars, Hyperloop’

Trump Appoints Elon Musk to Strategic & Policy Forum

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Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

NEW YORK (Trump Transition PR) — President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced that three additional members will join the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum: Travis Kalanick, CEO and Co-founder of Uber Technologies; Elon Musk, Chairman and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla; and Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.

Earlier this month, President-elect Trump established the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum and announced an initial round of 16 members. The Forum, which is composed of some of America’s most highly respected and successful business leaders, will be called upon to meet with the President frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the President implements his economic agenda. The Forum will be chaired by Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone.

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NASA Will Take 2 Years to Complete Investigation into 2015 Falcon 9 Failure

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Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

NASA’s investigation into the Falcon 9 launch failure that destroyed a Dragon cargo ship in June 2015 keeps getting more and more interesting.

I checked in again last week with the space agency about when it would be releasing a public report on the 18-month old accident. This is what a NASA spokesperson told me (emphasis mine):

NASA’s final report on the SpaceX CRS-7 mishap is still in work. While the report is important in providing NASA historical data of the mishap, the accident involved a version of the Falcon 9 rocket that is no longer in use. Furthermore, while the public summary itself may only be a few pages, the complete report is expected to exceed several hundred pages of highly detailed and technical information restricted by U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations and company-sensitive proprietary information. As a result, NASA anticipates its internal report and public summary will be finalized in the summer 2017.

That is a rather long time, even for a sometimes pokey government agency investigating the failure of a booster variant no longer in use.
Continue reading ‘NASA Will Take 2 Years to Complete Investigation into 2015 Falcon 9 Failure’

Video: Forming a SpaceX Rocket Nozzle

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SpaceX Slips Falcon 9 Return to Flight into January

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Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

SpaceX provided the following update on the Falcon 9 return to flight this morning:

We are finalizing the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January with the launch of Iridium-1. This allows for additional time to close-out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing to help ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to launch.

You will undoubtedly recall that the second stage of a Falcon 9 caught fire and exploded on the launch pad three months ago as it was being fueled for a pre-flight engine test. A Spacecom communications satellite valued at $195 million was destroyed in the accident.

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Conservative Group Targets Elon Musk

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stopelonfromfailingagain
A conservative political action committee (PAC) headed by Laura Ingraham has specifically targeted Elon Musk and his three companies with a website titled Stop Elon From Failing Again.

Billed as “The One Stop Database on Stopping Elon Musk,” the website is a compilation of critical news stories about Musk, SpaceX, SolarCity and Telsa Motors. A major criticism is that the companies have received billions in government subsidies and tax credits.

elon_spacex_crash_trump

The web site is one of several projects of Citizens for the Republic, a group headed up by conservative activist and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham.  Donald Trump has Ingraham on the short list of candidates for presidential press secretary.

 

Trump, Musk, Bezos, Bruno & the Future of America’s Space Program

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Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

There’s been a lot of speculation since the election on  what president-elect Donald Trump will do with the nation’s civilian and military space programs.

Two Trump advisors laid out some goals before the election: more commercial partnerships, boosting defense spending, increasing hypersonics and slashing NASA Earth science. However, most details remain unclear.

A key question is whether Trump really cares about space all that much. That’s a little hard to discern given his comments during  the campaign.

When first questioned on the subject, he expressed a preference for fixing potholes in America’s crumbling streets over sending people to Mars. Trump has promised a large infrastructure repair program.

During a visit to Florida, he attacked the Obama Administration for allegedly wrecking NASA and the space program. During another appearance in the Sunshine State about a week later, Trump praised the space agency for how well it was performing.

So, NASA is either doing great, a disaster that needs to be made great again, or an obstacle to pothole repair. Assuming Trump actually cares, and he’s willing to spend some money on making NASA great again, what might he do? What major decisions does he face?
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Video: Branson Says Space Tourism Competition Good

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