SpaceX Conducts 18th Launch of Year

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX successfully launched the Es’hail-2 satellite on Thursday, November 15 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff occurred at 3:46 p.m. EST, or 20:46 UTC, and the satellite was deployed to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) about 32 minutes after liftoff.

Falcon 9’s first stage for the Es’hail-2 mission previously supported the Telstar 19 VANTAGE mission in July 2018. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

(more…)

ICEYE-X2 SAR Satellite to Be Launched on Upcoming Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express Mission

HELSINKI,  November 8 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, an Earth observation company creating the world’s largest Synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation, today confirmed it is launching the company’s second SAR satellite, ICEYE-X2, into low Earth orbit on Spaceflight’s SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission.

The mission is currently targeted to launch on November 19th from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. ICEYE-X2 will further showcase the capabilities of ICEYE’s SAR technology. This launch follows the success of ICEYE’s first satellite mission ICEYE-X1 earlier this year. The ICEYE-X2 satellite has recently finished all tests, and it has been shipped to the launch site.

(more…)

Falcon 9 Receives NASA Category 3 Rating to Carry Most Complex Science Missions

The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself. GRACE-FO is sharing its ride to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as part of a commercial rideshare agreement. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) has certified as a Category 3 launch vehicle. Category 3 launch vehicles are certified to support NASA’s highest cost and most complex scientific missions. The following statement is from SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell:

“LSP Category 3 certification is a major achievement for the Falcon 9 team and represents another key milestone in our close partnership with NASA. We are honored to have the opportunity to provide cost-effective and reliable launch services to the country’s most critical scientific payloads.’

The process of designating launch vehicles as Category 3 is designed to assure the highest practical probability of success. Falcon 9 has completed over 60 missions, including the NASA LSP missions Jason-3 and TESS.

Launch Dates to be Updated More Regularly as Commercial Crew Flights Draw Nearer

NASA assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. The astronauts are, from left to right: Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — As NASA’s Commercial Crew partners Boeing and SpaceX crew transportation systems are within months of being ready for the first test flights of their spacecraft that will carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station from U.S. soil, the scheduling of launch dates enters a new phase.

(more…)

Rogozin Accuses Musk of Price Dumping

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Although praising Elon Musk as “a talented engineer and an outstanding promoter,” Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin last week accused the American billionaire of selling launch vehicles at below-market prices in order to squeeze out Russian providers.

“If you compare the price Musk sells his rockets to Pentagon at and the price he quotes for them on the market, you will see that this is nothing but pure dumping. In order to drive Russia from the market he sells launches at 40 to 60 million dollars while being paid 150 million for a launch by Pentagon,” he told Russia’s TV Channel One.

SpaceX officials have said that U.S. government launches require additional tasks that drive up the cost.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Glavkosmos Launch Services announced last week that it charges $48.5 million for a Soyuz 2.1 booster with a Fregat upper stage. A launch without the Fregat is priced at $35 million.

Both prices are below the amount SpaceX charges for satellite launches. The Falcon 9 is capable of orbiting larger payloads than the Soyuz 2.

SpaceX Plans First Stage Landing at Vandenberg on Sunday

Falcon 9 lifts off with Iridium Next 41-50 satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster for the first time at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sunday evening.

The launch of the SAOCOM 1A Earth observation satellite for Argentina’s space agency CONAE is scheduled for Sunday at 7:22 p.m. PDT (10:22 p.m. EDT; 0222 GMT on Monday).

In addition to landing the first stage, SpaceX will also attempt to recover half of the payload shroud using a boat named Mr. Steven that it has equipped with a net.

The U.S. Air Force’s 30th Space Wing has notified Central Coast residents to not become alarmed if they hear and see some unusual things during the launch.

 

Local residents may see the first stage of the Falcon 9 returning to Vandenberg AFB, including multiple engine burns associated with the landing.

During the landing attempt residents from Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear one or more sonic booms. A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves from an aircraft or vehicle traveling faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate a sound similar to an explosion or a clap of thunder. The sonic boom experienced will depend on weather conditions and other factors.

ispace to Launch Lunar Missions on SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2020, 2021

Latest HAKUTO-R Lander and Rover design. (Credit: ispace)

TOKYO, September 26, 2018 (ispace PR) – ispace, a company developing robotics for lunar delivery and resource exploration, announced today that SpaceX will be the launch provider for its maiden voyages to the Moon scheduled for 2020 and 2021. The company’s first two lunar missions will be carried out under the program name HAKUTO-R, standing for “Reboot”, a reference to ispace’s management of HAKUTO, a Google Lunar XPRIZE competition finalist.

(more…)

CASIS Announces Request for Proposals to Access Spaceflight Biospecimens

In association with Taconic Biosciences and BioServe Space Technologies, selected concepts from this Request for Proposals will support Rodent Research Reference Mission-1, a CASIS-sponsored initiative to support biospecimen research onboard the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory

Kennedy Space Center, Fla, September 11, 2018 (CASIS PR)  The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for investigators seeking to access biological specimens from its Rodent Research Reference Mission-1, Applications for Spaceflight Biospecimens, to support fundamental biomedical inquiries sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.

(more…)

Spaceflight Offers Rideshare Launches to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit

Partnership with SSL reflects growing need for frequent, affordable access to GTO/GSO; SpaceIL’s Israeli Lunar lander secures ride on first rideshare mission

Paris – September 11, 2018 (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, announced today at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference that it has procured upcoming launches to Geosynchronous Orbit – a popular destination for communications satellites. The company anticipates offering rideshare opportunities to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) approximately every 12-18 months, or as customer demand requires.

(more…)

SpaceX Launches Telstar 18 VANTAGE Communications Satellite

Falcon 9 with the Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellite aboard. (SpaceX webcast)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida early Monday morning.

The launch took place at 12:45 a.m. EDT after being delayed 77 minutes due to lightning in the area. The Falcon 9 first stage landed on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

(more…)

Russia Places Proton Medium Development on Indefinite Hold

Proton variants (Credit: ILS)

SpaceNews reports that Russia has placed development of its Proton Medium rocket on indefinite hold. The booster was a lighter version of the Proton launch vehicle designed to compete directly with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

In a statement to SpaceNews, [International Launch Services] said customers who have already contracted for a Proton Medium launch will be switched to the more powerful Proton Breeze M for no additional charge. ILS declined to say how many Proton Medium missions it has under contract. To date, only Paris-based satellite fleet operator Eutelsat has publicly announced booking a Proton Medium. Eutelsat made its Proton Medium reservation for an unnamed satellite as part of 2016 multi-launch agreement with ILS.

Khrunichev State Research and Production Center, the Moscow-based rocket builder that owns ILS, put Proton Medium development on hold as Russia weighs a speedier transition to the Angara family of rockets meant to replace Proton….

ILS, in its statement to SpaceNews, confirmed that Proton Medium development “has been placed on an indefinite hold” as Roscosmos conducts “an extensive review and analysis of the Russian space sector including the Proton and Angara launch systems.”

 

NASA, SpaceX Agree on Fueling Plans for Crew Dragon Launches

NASA astronaut Suni Williams in a Crew Dragon simulator.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and SpaceX are finalizing plans for launch day operations as they prepare for the company’s first flight test with astronauts on board. The teams are working toward a crew test flight to the International Space Station, known as Demo-2, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in April 2019.

(more…)

Rogozin Accuses Musk of Dumping Below-Cost Boosters on Market

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin says Russia is working on a reusable launch vehicle that would land back on the runway and accused the U.S. government of letting Elon Musk’s SpaceX of dumping below-cost boosters on the international market to kill competition.

The new heavy Soyuz-5 rocket, currently developed by Russia, must become more powerful yet remain cheaper than the products supplied by the competitors, the recently-elected head of the Russian space corporation told TASS in an extensive interview on Thursday.

While Moscow is looking into adding reusable elements to the Soyuz-5 to further lower launch costs, reusability is not a universal solution to achieve this goal, Rogozin believes. Musk’s SpaceX, which is currently the only company to have launched reusable rockets commercially, manages to cut the costs by other means, the Russian space boss pointed out.

“Musk’s advantage is not the reusability but that the US government gives him opportunities for dumping [prices] on the market. Musk sells his launches twofold to the Pentagon, covering his losses on the commercial market and killing competitors, who lack such a generous state behind them,” Rogozin said.

Due to its geography, Russia is largely unable to make Falcon-style reusable boosters that would make vertical powered descent to a movable platform at sea, and so it has to follow an alternate path sticking to horizontal landings or relying on parachutes, he said.