Long Delayed Canadian Satellite to be Launched on Risky Falcon 9 Development Flight

It’s been a long, hard road to space for Canada’s CASSIOPE satellite, which now sits atop a Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California waiting for engineers to resolve anomalies discovered in the rocket’s first stage engines.

The 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) spacecraft was originally booked in 2005 on SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 1 rocket, with an expected launch in 2008. Delays followed, and then CASSIOPE was shifted to the much larger Falcon 9 launch vehicle after SpaceX canceled the Falcon 1 program. The spacecraft spent years in a storage facility awaiting its turn.

CASSIOPE is now set for launch on a “development flight” of the new Falcon 9 version 1.1, which features about a half dozen significant changes over its predecessor. Any time a launch provider makes even one significant alteration in a booster, it increase the chances of something going wrong. To make a multiple ones and test them all at once involves major risks.

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SpaceX on a Roll

View from the International Space Station of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the robotic arm moves Dragon into place for attachment to the station May 25, 2012. (Credit: NASA)
View from the International Space Station of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the robotic arm moves Dragon into place for attachment to the station May 25, 2012. (Credit: NASA)

Continuing our look at recent U.S. launches, we turn our gaze to Elon Musk’s scrappy start-up, SpaceX.

In poker terms, the California-based company now holds three of a kind….three 5’s, that is. They’ve had 5 largely successful flights of its Falcon 9 rocket (with one secondary payload placed in the wrong orbit), 5 flights of the Grasshopper test bed, and 5 flights of the Falcon 1 rocket with a pair of successes and a trio of failures. There also have been four successful flights and recoveries of the Dragon spacecraft.
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SpaceX Turns 10

SPACEX PR — Ten years ago today, SpaceX was founded with the goal of helping make the human race a multi-planetary species. We remain firmly committed to this goal and will do everything within our power to help make this happen.

Below we have collected some of our most memorable moments from the last ten years. As we look back, we would like to thank NASA, our customers, supporters, and those who believe in what we are working so hard to accomplish. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to an exciting future. (more…)

SpaceX, Astrium to Market Falcon 1 in Europe

SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket

SPACEX PRESS RELEASE

Today Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Astrium announced a commercial agreement to provide dedicated launch services to the European institutional small satellite market.

Under the agreement, Astrium intends to work with SpaceX to market Falcon 1 launch capabilities to various space agencies and other institutional customers in Europe for launches to take place through 2015.

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SpaceX Signs Deal to Launch Taiwan Satellite

SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket


SPACEX PRESS RELEASE

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and the National Space Organization (NSPO) have signed contract for the launch of NSPO’s Earth Observation Satellite, Formosat-5. Formosat-5 will be used to continue the image data service for civilian users and may also carry instruments to conduct space research and scientific experiments.

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ESA Director General Dordain Sees Lessons in Falcon 9 Success

Falcon 9 takes off on its first flight. (Credit: Chris Thompson SpaceX)

The success of Falcon 9 has got ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain thinking, according to a report in Flight Global. Dordain that SpaceX’s approach is to make about 80 percent of components in-house, something that would be difficult for ESA because it needs to spread out contracts across Europe according the member states’ contributions.

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SpaceX to Launch ORBCOMM Constellation

SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket
SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket

PRESS RELEASE

ORBCOMM Inc. (Nasdaq: ORBC) and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announce they have reached an agreement for SpaceX to launch 18 ORBCOMM Generation 2 (OG2) satellites to begin as early as the fourth quarter of 2010 through 2014. SpaceX will deliver ORBCOMM’s second-generation satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) for the purpose of supporting ORBCOMM’s existing constellation of satellites, adding new features, and growing its global Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) offerings.

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SpaceX Upgrades Falcon 1, Raises Launch Fee

falcon1flight4

SpaceX’s Falcon 1e Rocket Replaces Cheaper Falcon 1
Space News

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., will replace its Falcon 1 rocket by the end of 2010 with the more capable and more expensive Falcon 1e rocket, the company said Aug. 6.

The upgraded version of the rocket uses a more powerful engine than the one originally designed for Falcon 1 and will be able to put larger, heavier payloads into orbit. A Falcon 1e launch will cost “under $11 million,” Rob Peckham, SpaceX vice president of business development, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Originally marketed as a $6-million rocket, SpaceX more recently pegged a Falcon 1 launch at $8 million.

Read the full story.


Falcon 1 Launches RazakSAT into Orbit

SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket put Malaysia’s RazakSAT remote sensing satellite into orbit on Tuesday from a seaside launch pad in the Marshall Islands.

The launch, which occurred at 3:35 p.m. local time (8:35 p.m. PDT Monday), appeared to go flawlessly based on a live webcast. About a half hour after the rocket reached orbit, the second stage relighted and deployed the satellite into its correct orbit over the Equator.

This is the first satellite placed into orbit by the California-based start-up. In its most recent launch, Falcon 1 put the second stage of the rocket into orbit but there was no satellite aboard. Three previous launch attempts failed.

This launch marks the first time that a privately funded, liquid fueled rocket has placed a satellite into orbit.


Live Coverage of SpaceX’s Falcon 1 Launch Tonight

falcon-3881

SPACEX MISSION UPDATE

The launch window for the fifth Falcon 1 launch opens Monday, July 13th and extends through Tuesday, July 14th, with a daily window to open at 4:00 p.m. (PDT) / 7:00 p.m. (EDT).

SpaceX will provide live coverage of the Falcon 1 Flight 5/RazakSAT mission via webcast at www.SpaceX.com. The webcast will begin 20 minutes prior to launch and will include mission briefings, live feeds and launch coverage from the launch site. Post-launch, video footage and photos will be available for download on the web site.


Falcon 1 Set to Lift Off With Malaysian Satellite on Tuesday

falcon1flight4

SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 1 rocket with Malaysia’s RazakSAT remote sensing satellite from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands on Tuesday local time (Monday in the United States).

SpaceX’s website indicates that “the launch window opens Monday, July 13th and extends through Tuesday, July 14th, with a daily window to open at 4:00 p.m. (PDT) / 7:00 p.m. (EDT).”

This will be the fifth launch of the Falcon 1 rocket, which has succeeded once in four previous attempts.

SpaceX sets Falcon 1 Launch for July 13

SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket
SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket

 

SPACEX PRESS RELEASE

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd (ATSB) of Malaysia announce a new launch window has been set for Falcon 1 Flight 5, carrying the RazakSAT satellite to orbit. The launch window opens Monday, July 13th and extends through Tuesday, July 14th, with a daily window to open at 4:00 p.m. (PDT) / 7:00 p.m. (EDT).

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SpaceX to Launch Razaksat in Mid-July

SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket takes off on first successful flight.
SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket takes off on first successful flight.

SpaceX’s launch of Malaysia’s Razaksat remote sensing satellite has been rescheduled for mid-July, a two-month slip from its original April 21 launch date.

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Elon Musk: Rocket King, Tabloid Fodder

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX

Another Big Moment for Elon Musk
Air & Space Magazine

At 37 years old, Elon Musk is poised to become either the Henry Ford or the Howard Hughes of his generation. If his Falcon rockets and Tesla electric cars succeed, he’ll revolutionize 21st century transportation. If they don’t, he’ll likely be remembered as a colorful, clever, but ultimately irrelevant tinkerer. After all, Neil Young has an electric car, too.

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