Space Life Sciences Lab Sends Experiments to ISS

Launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 mission on Feb. 19, 2017. (Credit: SpaceX)

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla. (Space Florida PR) — Space Florida is proud to congratulate SpaceX for the successful docking of the CRS-10 mission with the ISS and to congratulate the 4 different experiments on board the Dragon capsule which were processed in the Space Life Sciences Lab (SLSL) in Exploration Park, Florida.

Those experiments were as follows:

  • Customer: CASIS/MERCK
    PI: Paul Reichert
    Protein crystal growth – pharmaceutical research (chemotherapy)
  • Customer: Edith Stein High School (agricultural high school in Ravensburg, Germany)
    PI: Maria Koch, Raphael Schilling and David Geray, German Students
    Vegetative propagation of plants on orbit
  • Customer: Intrinsyx Tech
    PI: John Freeman
    Designed to study enhanced plant growth of strong plants for astronauts on long duration Space missions
  • Customer: Space Tango
    PI: Twyman Clements

Another commercial opportunity to begin to utilize microgravity for application on Earth. The use of the SLSL for the processing of payloads for experiments and commercial operations will only grow as the flight cadence at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport increases in the years ahead.

“We’re excited to see the early investments by the State of Florida in payload processing for science and industry become a reality here at the Cape.” said Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello.

SpaceX Launches Dragon Supply Ship to ISS

Falcon 9 first stage descends toward its landing pad. (Screen shot from SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket roared off NASA’s historic Pad 39A on Sunday morning, marking a rebirth of a complex that once hosted the launches of Apollo moon ships and space shuttles.

The booster lifted off on time at 9:39 a.m. EST carrying a Dragon resupply ship bound for the International Space Station. The Dragon separated from second stage as planned and unfurled its two solar arrays. It will take two days to catch up to the space station.

The Falcon 9’s first stage landed safely at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On board video showed the rocket’s engine firing as the stage touched down on its concrete landing pad.

This flight was the first from Pad 39 since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. SpaceX has a 20-year lease on the launch complex.

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Top Programmatic Risks for SpaceX’s Commercial Crew Program

SpaceX Crew Dragon Weldment Structure (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Commercial Crew Program
Schedule Pressure Increases as Contractors Delay Key Events

GAO Report 17-137
February 16, 2017

Program’s Top Risks for SpaceX

The Commercial Crew Program’s top programmatic and safety risks for SpaceX are, in part, related to ongoing launch vehicle design and development efforts. Prior to SpaceX’s September 2016 loss of a Falcon 9 during pre-launch operations, the program was tracking several risks related to SpaceX’s launch vehicle.

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SpaceX Scrubs Falcon 9 Launch

Falcon 9 on Launch Pad 39A. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX had to scrub its Falcon 9 launch on Saturday morning. There was an issue with the thrust vector control system on the second stage. If that can be fixed quickly, the next launch window is Sunday at 9:38 a.m. EST. Falcon 9 is carrying a Dragon resupply ship bound for the International Space Station. You can watch the launch on NASA TV at www.nasa.gov or at the SpaceX website at www.spacex.com.

 

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SpaceX Set to Launch Dragon Supply Ship on Saturday

Falcon 9 on Launch Pad 39A. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA provider SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are vertical at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff of SpaceX’s tenth Commercial Resupply Services cargo mission to the International Space Station is scheduled for 10:01 a.m. EST on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. The mission will set a milestone as the first launch from Launch Complex 39A since the space shuttle fleet retired in 2011. It will mark a turning point for Kennedy’s transition to a multi-user spaceport geared to support public and private missions, as well as those conducted in partnership with NASA.

Dragon will carry science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory in support of the Expedition 50 and 51 crew members. Research highlights aboard Dragon include the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS), a space-based instrument measuring the amount, rate and energy of lightning as it strikes around the world; the Raven investigation studying a real-time spacecraft navigation system; and the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument measuring stratospheric ozone, aerosols, and other trace gases by locking onto the sun or moon and scanning a thin profile of Earth’s atmosphere.

Falcon 9 Launch of Iridium Satellites Slips Two Months

MCLEAN, Va., Feb. 15, 2017 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) announced it has received a targeted launch date of mid-June for the second mission of ten Iridium NEXT satellites.  Originally anticipated for mid-April of 2017, the date has shifted due to a backlog in SpaceX’s launch manifest as a result of last year’s September 1st anomaly.  This second launch will deliver another ten Iridium NEXT satellites to low-Earth-orbit (LEO) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.  SpaceX is targeting six subsequent Iridium NEXT launches approximately every two months thereafter.

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American, Russian Cargo Ships Set to Resupply Space Station

Dextre at the end of Canadarm2 preparing to remove cargo from Dragon. (Credit: NASA)

The Expedition 50 crew is gearing up for three different spaceships in two months to resupply the International Space Station. The crew also worked today on a variety of research hardware and practiced an emergency drill.

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Falcon 9 Rolled Out to Pad 39A

SpaceX has rolled out the Falcon 9 booster to Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The booster will undergo a test of its first stage engines in preparation for a scheduled Feb. 18 launch. The rocket will carry a Dragon resupply ship bound for the International Space Station.

It will be the first launch from Pad 39A since the final space shuttle flight in 2011. SpaceX has leased the complex from NASA under a 20-year agreement.

SpaceX Again Aims for High Launch Cadence

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’ is hoping the fourth time will be a charm.

For the fourth year in a row, SpaceX is trying to significant increase its launch rate.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp, better known as SpaceX, plans to launch its Falcon 9 rockets every two to three weeks, its fastest rate since starting launches in 2010, once a new launch pad is put into service in Florida next week, the company’s president told Reuters on Monday.

“We should be launching every two to three weeks,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

During each of the past three years, the company tried to vastly improve its launch cadence only to hit significant setbacks.

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New SpaceX Falcon 9 Problems: Cracks in Turbopump Turbine Blades

Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

There have been more problems uncovered with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster.

Congressional investigators are raising new safety concerns about Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s plans for future manned launches, citing persistent cracking of vital propulsion-system components, according to government and industry officials familiar with the details.

The Government Accountability Office’s preliminary findings reveal a pattern of problems with turbine blades that pump fuel into rocket engines, these officials said. The final GAO report, scheduled to be released in coming weeks, is slated to be the first public identification of one of the most serious defects affecting Falcon 9 rockets.

The crack-prone parts are considered a potentially major threat to rocket safety, the industry officials said, and may require redesign of what are commonly called the Falcon 9’s turbopumps. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, they said, has warned SpaceX that such cracks pose an unacceptable risk for manned flights….

Industry officials have known about problems with cracked blades on Falcon 9 versions for many months or even years. But cracks continued to be found during tests as recently as September 2016, Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator, confirmed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this week….

Mr. Lightfoot said “we’re talking to [SpaceX] about turbo machinery,” adding that he thinks “we know how to fix them.” In the interview, Mr. Lightfoot said he didn’t know if the solution would require a potentially time-consuming switch to bigger turbopumps.

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SpaceX Expanding Operations in Redmond, Los Angeles

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk’s SpaceX continues to expand, with the company setting up a satellite research and development (R&D) laboratory in Washington State and expanding the space it leases from the Port of Los Angeles.

The R&D laboratory is designed for SpaceX’s planned 4,425-satellite constellation that would provide Internet and other communications services around the world.

SpaceX has taken on a 40,625-square-foot facility in Redmond, Wash., that will become a research and development lab for its ambitious satellite operation.

The warehouse-style space in the Redmond Ridge Corporate Center, owned by M&T Partners, is slated for a $2.1 million interior remodeling job, according to a permit application filed last month with King County.

SpaceX is already using a 30,000-square-foot office building that’s about a 10-minute drive away in Redmond.
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Iridium Adds Eighth Launch With SpaceX for Satellite Rideshare with NASA/GFZ

Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

McLEAN, Va., Jan. 31, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that it has contracted with SpaceX for an eighth Falcon 9 launch. Along for the ride are the twin-satellites of the NASA/GFZ Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, which will be deployed into a separate low-Earth orbit, marking the first rideshare deal for Iridium. An agreement of this kind is economical for all parties, and affords Iridium the ability to launch five additional satellites for its next-generation global satellite network.   The rideshare is anticipated to launch out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by early 2018.

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SpaceX to Launch Dragon Supply Ship from Historic Launch Pad 39A

SpaceX’s 300-foot long processing hangar, which stands at the base of Launch Pad 39A, and the upgraded launch infrastructure will support the needs of astronauts and ground support staff who will access SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as it stands on the pad for launch to the International Space Station. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A will see its first flight in nearly six years in mid-February when a SpaceX Falcon 9 launches a Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station.

The California-based company announced over the weekend that the launch of the EchoStar 23 communications satellite, set to be the first from the renovated pad, would be delayed until after the CRS-10 Dragon supply flight.

SpaceX is leasing the historic launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center under a 20-year agreement with NASA. The company has been modifying the launch complex for launches of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters.

SpaceX’s main launch complex at the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been out of action since September when a Falcon 9 caught fire and exploded as it was being fueled for a pre-flight engine test. Repairs are still under way.

Pad 39A last saw a launch in July 2011 with the 135th and final space shuttle mission. Atlantis flew a nearly 13-day logistics flight to the space station. Prior to the start of the shuttle program in 1981, the complex hosted Saturn V launches for the Apollo program.

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Iridium Announces Successful First Launch of Iridium NEXT Satellites

Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)
Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 14, 2017 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today the successful launch of its first ten Iridium NEXT satellites. The satellites were delivered into low-Earth orbit approximately one hour after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:54:39 a.m. PST. Iridium NEXT is the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, replacing and enhancing its existing network of low-Earth orbit satellites spanning the entire globe — the largest commercial satellite constellation in space.

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SpaceX’s Shotwell to be Deposed in Whistleblower Lawsuit

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.”

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