Mr. Steven—now with more net. SpaceX’s fairing recovery vessel has been fitted with a 4x larger net ahead of its next recovery attempt targeted for later this month. https://t.co/cjXvzg1H70 pic.twitter.com/AdAwPP30OU
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 13, 2018
by Douglas Messier
The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.
There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)
SpaceX has applied for permission to land a Falcon 9 first stage at Vandenberg Air Force Base for the first time.
The request to the Federal Communications Commission for “special temporary authority” covers a six-month window from September 5, 2018 to March 5, 2019. SpaceX needs permission for communications between the landing site and the returning first-stage booster for the experimental operation.
All previous land recoveries have taken place at Cape Canaveral in Florida. SpaceX has recovered first stages from Vandenberg launches using offshore drone ships.
Commercial Crew Manager Kathy Lueders recently appeared on “Houston We Have a Podcast”, which is the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center. The program was published on the space agency’s on June 15.
You can listen to the full podcast and read a transcript of the interview here. Below are key excepts from the conversation.
Progress on Commercial Crew
Kathy Lueders: They have their — spacecraft is really, really cool right now. I can’t tell you– go out to SpaceX, you see spacecraft in the building, one– our DM1 vehicle’s getting ready to roll out to go to Plum Brook in a week and a half. [Editor’s note: DM-1 is now undergoing tests at Plum Brook.]
You go over into the C3PF down in Florida and the Boeing spacecraft, you get C3 spacecraft, the Spacecraft 1’s getting ready to get shipped out to go support pad abort test. Spacecraft 2’s getting ready to get shipped to California to go through environmental testing and that will eventually come back and become our first crewed flight test vehicle. And Spacecraft 3 is getting assembled and will be getting ready to fly later this year.
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Experiments investigating cellular biology, Earth science and artificial intelligence are among the research heading to the International Space Station following Friday’s launch of a NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at 5:42 a.m. EDT.
Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with more than 5,900 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the space station.
Kennedy Space Center, Fla. — June 26, 2018 (CASIS PR) — SpaceX is targeting its 15th resupply mission (awarded by NASA) to the International Space Station (ISS) for no earlier than 5:42 a.m. EDT on June 29th from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As part of this mission, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will haul approximately 300 kilograms of research and hardware facilities under the ISS U.S. National Laboratory flight allocation. The ISS National Lab is managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). The research investigations that are part of the ISS National Lab flight manifest represent a diverse mixture of payloads which are intended to benefit life on Earth.
PALO ALTO, Calif. (SSL PR) – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE: MAXR, TSX: MAXR), today announced it shipped the first of three satellites that SSL will deliver to the SpaceX launch base at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida over the next month. Driven by commercial advances, the three satellites will bring communications capability to connect people and transform lives around the globe.
by Douglas Messier
The draft environmental assessment for SpaceX’s proposed expansion at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) also revealed that Elon Musk’s rocket company plans to most of more than 4,000 satellites of its planned Starlink constellation from Cape Canaveral.
That will guarantee a busy schedule for SpaceX’s Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at KSC and LC-40 at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). LC-39A can accommodate Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters while LC-40 is configured for the Falcon 9.
To accommodate its growing launch operations, SpaceX has proposed a substantial expansion of its operations at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, including a launch and landing control center, a processing and storage facility for its boosters and fairings, and a rocket garden.
“SpaceX estimates there may be up to ten events per year for a Falcon Heavy launch, and up to 63 landings (54 Falcon 9 single core landings and nine Falcon Heavy triple core landings) at the current CCAFS landing site or on the SpaceX drone ship,” according to a draft environmental assessment released by NASA KSC’s Integrated Mission Support Services.
NEW YORK (Death Wish Coffee PR) — Death Wish Coffee, also known as The World’s Strongest Coffee, announced its launch into space on June 28th aboard SpaceX CRS-15, officially making it the galaxy’s strongest coffee.
The idea was initially conceived by Jeff Ayers, host of Death Wish’s “Fueled by Death Cast,” whose love for space and space exploration brought him to invite retired NASA astronaut and artist, Nicole Stott, to be a featured guest on the podcast. On the show, Nicole mentioned to Jeff how tired you feel after something like a spacewalk and that she craved good coffee. Jeff instantly knew the remedy for post-spacewalk lethargy: Death Wish served in space.
Report to Congressional Committees
Weapon Systems Annual Assessment
Knowledge Gaps Pose Risks to Sustaining Recent Positive Trends
Government Accountability Office
Full Report (PDF)
Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Program
Technology Maturity, Design Stability, and Production Readiness
All but one (14 of 15) of ULA’s launch vehicle variants—which are based on payload fairing size and number of strap-on solid rocket boosters used—and two variants of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 have flown at least once, demonstrating technology maturity. For design stability and production readiness, the program assesses launch vehicles using Aerospace Corporation’s “3/7 reliability rule.” Once a variant is launched successfully three times, its design can be considered stable and mature. Similarly, if a variant is successfully launched seven times, both the design and production process can be considered stable and mature.
At least 10 launches are planned worldwide this month. The launches include crew and cargo missions to the International Space Station and the first commercial flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster. Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL will launch NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) from the Marshall Islands on June 14.
China got June off to a successful start on Saturday with the launch of the Gaofen-6 remote sensing satellite aboard a Long March 2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
SpaceX is up next, with an early morning launch on Monday morning. A Falcon 9 is set to launch the SES 12 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The four-hour launch window opens at 12:29 a.m. EDT (0429 GMT). The company has no plans to recover the previously used first stage.
The current launch schedule is below. View updates here.
Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D
Payload: Gaofen 6 remote sensing satellite
Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SES 12 communications satellite
Launch Window: 12:29-1:27 a.m. EDT (0429-0527 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: ISS 55S Crew flight
Launch Time: 7:11 a.m. EDT (1111 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Vehicle: H-2A
Payload: IGS Radar 6 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Window: 12:00-2:00 a.m. EDT (0400-0600 GMT)
Launch Site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL
Payload: NASA Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: L-1011, Kwajalein, Marshall Islands
Launch Vehicle: Electron
Payloads: 2 Spire & 1 GeoOptics satellites
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
First commercial flight of Electron.
Launch Vehicle: Long March 2C
Payload: PRSS 1 remote sensing satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Taiyuan, China
Launch Vehicle: Long March 3A
Payload: Fengyun 2H geostationary weather satellite
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Xichang, China
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Telstar 19V communications satellite
Launch Window: TBD
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Florida
A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Tuesday afternoon and successfully orbited seven satellites.
There were five Iridium-NEXT communications satellites aboard. These were the 51st through 56th Iridium-NEXT spacecraft orbited by Falcon 9 boosters.
A pair of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites were also onboard. The spacecraft 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.
The mission is a join collaboration of NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ). GFZ reports receiving signals from both GRACE-FO satellites.
A German-American science mission scheduled to launch this week is running nine months behind schedule due to issues with launch vehicles. However, the delays turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the project, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment.
The twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites are set to launch on Tuesday at 12:47:58 p.m. PDT (3:47:58 p.m. EDT; 1947:58 GMT) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch will be webcast at www.nasa.gov and www.spacex.com.
There are a dozen orbital launches planned around the world through the end of June.
China will lead off on Sunday as it launches its Chang’e-4 lunar relay satellite from Xichang. A lunar lander and rover targeted for the far side of the moon is scheduled for launch at the end of the year.
Orbital ATK will follow with the launch of a Cygnus resupply ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday from Wallops Island. On Tuesday, SpaceX is scheduled to launch 5 Iridium Next satellites and a pair of scientific spacecraft for NASA.
Other notable missions scheduled through June include a Soyuz crew mission and a SpaceX Dragon resupply flight. Rocket Lab is probably going to launch the first commercial flight of its Electron booster from New Zealand. However, the company has not published a launch window for the flight.
The current global schedule is below. Be sure to check Space Flight Now’s launch schedule for updates.