Tag: Falcon 9

Spaceflight Purchases SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

SEATTLE, September 30, 2015 (Spaceflight PR)— Spaceflight, the company reinventing the model for launching small satellites into space, today announced the purchase of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the expansion of its launch services to include dedicated rideshare missions. Spaceflight’s first dedicated rideshare mission, named the “2017 Sun Synch Express,” will launch in the second half of 2017 to a sun-synchronous low Earth orbit which is popular for earth imaging satellites.

Continue reading ‘Spaceflight Purchases SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket’

Video: SpaceX Test Fires Upgraded First Stage


Video Caption: First static fire of the upgraded Falcon 9’s first stage with densified propellant, completed on 9/21/2015.

Officials Hope to Win Back Business for Proton

A Proton takes a nose dive at Baikonur. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

A Proton takes a nose dive at Baikonur. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

Khrunichev and International Launch Services are slashing prices and offering other incentives on its Proton rocket amid a strong and failures and stiff competition from American rival SpaceX.

Taking advantage of the slide in the value of the ruble, officials have slashed Proton flights to $65 million, which is close to what SpaceX charges for a Falcon 9 launch. They are also offering schedule priority to commercial launches and more insight into and access to Khrunichev’s manufacturing and quality control practices.

HISPASAT of Madrid, Spain, recently announced a Proton launch order for a satellite that will fly in the first half of 2017. The company also booked the launch of another satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.

Proton’s long string of recent failures has depressed launch sales in recent years to the benefit of SpaceX and Arianespace. The table below shows failures over the past five years.

Dec. 5, 2010 Proton-M/ Blok-DM-3 Uragan-M #739 Uragan-M #740
Uragan-M #741
Failure Rocket failed to reach orbital velocity after upper stage overfilled with propellant.
Aug. 17, 2011 Proton-M/ Briz-M Ekspress AM4
Failure Briz-M upper stage suffered failure of attitude control.
Aug. 6, 2012 Proton-M/ Briz-M Telkom-3
Ekspress MD2
Failure Briz-M upper stage failed 7 seconds into its third burn.
Dec. 8, 2012 Proton-M/ Briz-M Yamal-402 Partial Failure Briz-M upper stage shut down 4 minutes earlier than planned on fourth burn. Spacecraft reached intended orbit under own power.
July 2, 2013 Proton-M/DM-03 Uragan-M #748 Uragan-M #749
Uragan-M #750
Failure First stage failure.
May 15, 2014 Proton-M/Briz-M Ekspress AM4R Failure Proton third stage vernier engine failure due to turbo-pump leak.
May 16, 2015 Proton/Briz-M MexSat-1 Failure Premature third stage steering engine turbo-pump shutdown.

The Proton rocket has failed completely six times in the past five years, destroying 11 satellites in the process. The rocket also suffered a partial failure in 2012 with the premature shutdown of its upper stage. That satellite was able to reach its intended orbit using on-board fuel.

SpaceX, ILS Announce New Satellite Launch Orders

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX and International Launch Services (ILS) announced new launch contracts on Monday during the World Satellite Business Conference in Paris, France.

SpaceX will launch a communications satellite for HISPASAT on a Falcon 9 and Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat 6A communications satellite on a Falcon Heavy.  The flights are planned from Florida between late 2017 and 2018.

“We are pleased to add these additional launches to our manifest,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX, in a press release. “The diversity of our missions and customers represents a strong endorsement of our capabilities and reflects SpaceX’s efforts to provide a breadth of launch services to our growing customer base.”

ILS will launch a communications satellite for HISPASAT aboard a Russian Proton rocket during the first half of 2017 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. HIPASAT is headquartered in Madrid, Spain.

“The partnership of HISPASAT satellites launching on Proton dates back over 10 years with the successful launch of HISPASAT’s first AMAZONAS satellite in 2004 on ILS Proton,” said ILS President Kirk Pysher. “We are proud that HISPASAT continues to place its trust in us to expand business with this launch in 2017, another powerful satellite to augment their fleet. ILS and Khrunichev look forward to working with HISPASAT on this important mission.”


Congressmen Concerned About SpaceX Failure Investigation

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Congress has weighed in on the investigation into the loss of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in June, accusing NASA of giving the company special treatment and calling upon the U.S. Air Force to take an active role in the probe.

Continue reading ‘Congressmen Concerned About SpaceX Failure Investigation’

SpaceX Wears Out its Welcome in Boca Chica Village

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor's Office)

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor’s Office)

The residents of a small Texas village located less than two miles from SpaceX’s future launch site are not pleased with the company’s future plans.

People who live in Boca Chica Village, all 26 of them, knew Elon Musk’s SpaceX company would put the South Texas town on the map after it was selected last year as the world’s first commercial rocket-launch site. Now, many want SpaceX gone and their obscurity back.

The residents say SpaceX representatives told them recently they would be required to register with the county, wear badges and pass through checkpoints on launch days, which will occur about once a month beginning as soon as next year. During a 15- hour launch time frame, their movement around the village could be restricted. If they happen to be picking up groceries past a designated “point of no return,” forget about going home.

SpaceX’s proposed methods to enforce the safety rules — sweeping the beach with drones and video surveillance — aren’t helping matters. While the rules still might change, all this makes residents wish SpaceX would go away, with some even talking about acts of civil disobedience or maybe a lawsuit.

“I’m like, ‘Are you out of your mind?’” said Cheryl Stevens, 55, who settled in Boca Chica Village a decade ago in search of quiet, rustic beauty. “It’s like Nazi Germany.”

Update on Falcon 9 Failure Investigation


NASASpaceflight.com has an update on the Falcon 9 failure investigation, which has included the examination of failure modes other than just a failed strut:

During the last month, a leading alternate path was examined (L2) – specific to a potential leak in a propellant feedline that runs from the upper tank, through the lower tank, to the engine. It is thought such a leak could explain the pressure increase in the system. However, following an investigation into this potential path, it was deemed not to be credible and subsequently removed from the fault tree.

The failed strut continues to be the leading candidate for the failure, backed up by additional testing that has been conducted at SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas.

With SpaceX utilizing the investigation period to conduct a “deep dive” review of all their hardware and processing paths, engineers reviewed the history of modifications to their evolving Falcon 9, including elements such as the optimization of the Second Stage that have been implemented over recent years….

Noticed during inspections of Falcon 9 hardware at SpaceX’s base in Hawthorne, California – engineers visually observed a small issue relating to weld points associated with a helium line – hardware classed as “inconel tubes” – via inspections (L2).

Although this issue was unlikely to have impacted on the vehicle during flight, a decision was taken to change them out on the F9-19, 21 and 22 vehicles. F9-21 and F9-22 were still without their engines at the time of the decision, expediting the changeout process.

The website also reports SpaceX might try to accomplish an additional four launches by the end of the year as part of its return to flight.

Shotwell: Still a Couple of Months From Falcon 9 Return to Flight

Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said on Monday the company is still a couple of months away from returning the Falcon 9 booster to flight following the launch failure on June 28.

The investigation of the accident is taking longer than originally planned, Shotwell said during a panel discussion at the AIAA Space 2015 Conference in Pasadena. The company is doing a review of its supply chain.

The company has blamed the failure of a strut in the upper stage for the failure, which destroyed a Dragon cargo ship headed for the International Space Station.

The return to flight will feature the first test of the upgraded Falcon 9, which is being tweaked to improve its performance. Shotwell admitted this flight was keeping her up at night.

She said a customer has been identified for the return to flight but would not identify it.

Editor’s Note: I’ve been hearing reliable reports that something more than the strut was the cause of the accident in June. The last I heard, they were still trying to figure out exactly what happened.

Air Force Completes Review of Launch Certification

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

by Tech. Sgt. Mike Slater
AFSPC Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Air Force Space Command has announced the completion of the Institute for Defense Analyses Broad Area Review of AFSPC launch vehicle certification. The independent review examined the process and provided specific recommendations to apply certification lessons learned. The intent of the review is to assure access to space for National Security Space missions.

Continue reading ‘Air Force Completes Review of Launch Certification’

SpaceX Statement on Loss of Falcon 9

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

SpaceX Statement on Loss of Falcon 9

On June 28, 2015, following a nominal liftoff, Falcon 9 experienced an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank approximately 139 seconds into flight, resulting in loss of mission. This summary represents an initial assessment, but further investigation may reveal more over time.

Continue reading ‘SpaceX Statement on Loss of Falcon 9′