Tag: Falcon 9

U.S. Air Force Certifies SpaceX Falcon 9 for Military Missions

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The series of images shows the journey of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from its launch at 4:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, to solar array deployment. (Credit:  NASA TV)

The series of images shows the journey of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from its launch at 4:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, to solar array deployment. (Credit: NASA TV)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. (USAF PR) — Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) Falcon 9 Launch System for national security space missions.

SpaceX is now eligible for award of qualified national security space launch missions as one of two currently certified launch providers. The first upcoming opportunity for SpaceX to compete to provide launch services is projected to be in June when the Air Force releases a Request for Proposal for GPS III launch services.
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NASA Certifies Falcon 9 for Science Missions

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Falcon 9 lifts off on CRS-6 mission.

Falcon 9 lifts off on CRS-6 mission.

Some good news for SpaceX, which will now be able to bid to launch NASA science missions:

NASA has formally certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to launch all but the agency’s most costly robotic science missions. The first mission for SpaceX will be the launch of a United States and France oceanography satellite that is scheduled for liftoff from California in July.

According to George Diller, a spokesperson from NASA, the space agency’s Launch Services Program, which manages the agency’s rocket procurements for research missions, concluded the multi-year certification on Tuesday.

This new milestone now clears the Falcon 9 to launch what NASA calls “medium-risk” science missions, a classification that includes most of the agency’s Earth observation satellites and many of its interplanetary probes.  The Falcon 9 is now certified by NASA as a “Category 2″ launch vehicle.

In order to launch the most valuable spacecraft, such as the multibillion-dollar interplanetary flagship missions, NASA requires a Category 3 certification.  The Atlas 5, Delta 2 and Pegasus XL rockets operated by SpaceX rivals United Launch Alliance and Orbital ATK currently meet the stringent requirements for Category 3 certification.

The certification clears the way for SpaceX to launch NASA’s Jason 3 ocean altimetry spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch is scheduled for July 22.

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Years of Failures Haunt Russian Space Program

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Holy shi'ski! The rocket...it go KABOOMSKI! (Credit: Tsenki TV)

Proton rocket falls to Earth at Baikonur in July 2013. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

Sixteen botched launches in six years.

That’s the Russian space program’s sad record since May 2009. The failure of a Proton rocket earlier today with the loss of a Mexican communications satellite was yet another sign of the prolonged crisis affecting Russia’s once powerful space program.

The crash came less than three weeks after a botched launch left a Progress supply freighter spinning end over end like an extra point before it burned up in Earth atmosphere. There was also news today that another Progress cargo ship attached to the International Space Station failed to fire its engine as planned to boost the station’s orbit.

The list of Russian launch accidents over the last six years includes:

  • 13 complete failures resulting in the loss of all payloads;
  • 3 partial failures that left spacecraft in the wrong orbits;
  • complete loss of 20 spacecraft;
  • 6 Russian GLONASS navigation satellites destroyed; and,
  • an ambitious Mars mission left stranded in Earth orbit.

The table below shows the full extent of the damage.

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Israel Confident Arianespace Can Compete With SpaceX

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Stephane Israel (Credit: Arianespace)

Stephane Israel (Credit: Arianespace)

Arianespace seems confident it can weather la tempête de SpaceX:

The head of Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium on May 12 said the company can beat competitor SpaceX in the open market with a euro/dollar exchange rate at today’s levels and the planned 5-6 percent reduction in Ariane 5 rocket production and launch costs.

Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel also said a fresh canvassing of large commercial satellite fleet operators has found that SpaceX’s planned reuse of its Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage — designed to cut Falcon launch costs — at this point presents no real threat to Arianespace.

The Ariane 6 rocket agreed to by European governments last December, he said, has sufficient commercial attributes of its own to maintain its commercial market position against a partially reusable Falcon 9, Israel told the Economic Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, or parliament….

Israel said Arianespace and Airbus Safran Launchers, a joint venture that owns a 39-percent stake in Arianespace and is prime contractor for the current Ariane 5 and future Ariane 6 rockets, have agreed to find production and operating savings of 5-6 percent.

He said those savings should be enough to keep SpaceX at bay if the euro remains about where it is now versus the U.S. dollar.

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Awesome Photo of Falcon 9 Barge Landing Attempt

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Awesome Side-by-Side Video of Falcon 9 First Stage Crash

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Video Caption:
Side by side – Chase plane video and landing barge video.

Research for One-Year ISS Mission Launched Aboard Dragon

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The series of images shows the journey of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from its launch at 4:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, to solar array deployment. (Credit:  NASA TV)

The series of images shows the journey of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from its launch at 4:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, to solar array deployment. (Credit: NASA TV)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NASA PR) — Research that will help prepare NASA astronauts and robotic explorers for future missions to Mars is among the two tons of cargo now on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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Video Taken From Barge of Falcon 9 First Stage Crash Landing

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High Resolution Video of Falcon 9 First Stage Landing and Crash

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Space Symposium Briefs: Stratolaunch, Falcon 9, CST-100, UAE to Mars & Lunar Bases

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Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell

I’ve been monitoring the Twittersphere for news out of the 31st Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. There have been a few interesting items of note:

  • Stratolaunch President Chuck Beames says the company is considering other air-launch rockets in addition to the one being built by Orbital ATK for use with its massive six engine carrier aircraft. The Orbital ATK rocket is for medium payloads but won’t be ready for several years. Stratolaunch is looking at smaller rockets that could be developed more rapidly and help with more near-term revenue.
  • SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell says the company’s next attempt to recover a Falcon 9 first stage may occur over land rather than on a barge at sea. SpaceX is building landing facilities at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
  • Boeing plans to reveal the crew of its first CST-100 flight test this summer. The crew for the planned 2017 test will include one Boeing test pilot and one NASA astronaut.
  • The new United Arab Emirates Space Agency decided to launch a spacecraft to Mars in 2020 because sending an orbiter to the moon is too easy. The space agency, which was formed only last July, has yet to define the mission to the Red Planet or select international partners.
  • Current DLR Chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner would really like to see the establishment of a base on the far side of the moon to enable radio astronomy. Wörner is set to take over had head of ESA in several months.