SpaceX Starship SN3 Collapses During Cryo Test

Video Caption: Starship SN3 collapsed during a cryogenic proof test designed to validate the vehicle ahead of a planned static fire and 150-meter hop. SpaceX will now have to instead focus on future Starship builds.

Footage via Mary (@BocaChicaGal) for NSF and edited by Jack Beyer (thejackbeyer)

Video Caption: Another very disappointing end to the week with SpaceX SN3 Starship Destroyed. Looks like the Liquid Oxygen Tank Crumpled. This is quite disappointing as we had huge hopes for the SN 3 because it looked just so much more robust. The welds were looking really beautiful.

The SN 4 is already being built so we can look forward to that which is going come up rapidly much quicker than most people would realize.

A huge thank you to Boca Chica girl with NASAspaceflight and also LabPadre links to both of those incredibly awesome channels below.

Editor’s Note: It’s disconcerting that work on this project is continuing during the coronavirus pandemic. I reviewed the video above that shows the stacking of the the Starship prototype that collapsed on the test stand this morning.

Credits: BocaChicaGal, NASASpaceflight.com & Marcus House

The above screenshot taken at 4:54 into the video shows employees working closely together without observing the six feet social distancing guidelines or wearing protective masks to guard against infecting each other with the deadlly COVID-19 virus.

Any one of these workers could have the virus for a week without showing any symptoms. During that time, an infected worker could unknowingly pass COVID-19 onto his co-workers. The result of that could be severe illness or death. Even young, seemingly healthy individuals have died when their respiratory systems collapsed.

SpaceX is legally exempt from closing its doors because it is classified as an essential business. That is due to the fact that Elon Musk’s company is a government contractor that performs vital, time critical work for NASA and the Department of Defense.

Starship, however, does not appear to be either vital or time critical. It’s a long-term development project that SpaceX is funding on its own. Neither NASA nor DOD is going to use Starship at any time in the near future. Their launch needs are satisfied by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as well as the nation’s fleet of expendable boosters.

SpaceX’s goal of preserving humanity by making it a multi-planetary species is noble enough. It doesn’t need to place the humans making that possible at unnecessary risk in the midst of a deadly global pandemic.

NASA, SpaceX Simulate Upcoming Crew Mission with Astronauts

On Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20, SpaceX teams in Firing Room 4 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the company’s Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, along with NASA flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, executed a full simulation of launch and docking of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley (front) participating in SpaceX’s flight simulator. (Credits: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Joint teams from NASA and SpaceX continue making progress on the first flight test with astronauts to the International Space Station by completing a series of mission simulations from launch to landing. The mission, known as Demo-2, is a close mirror of the company’s uncrewed flight test to station in March 2019, but this time with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

(more…)

NASA Adds Shannon Walker to First Operational Crewed SpaceX Mission

Shannon Walker looking out of the international space station’s cupola at the Caribbean view beneath on November 25, 2010. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has assigned astronaut Shannon Walker to the first operational crewed flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station.

Walker will join NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover Jr., as well as Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), for a six-month expedition aboard the unique space laboratory.

(more…)

SpaceX Get Approval for 1 Million Starlink Ground Stations in USA

60 Starlink satellites begin to separate after deployment from the Falcon 9 second stage. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted SpaceX to deploy up to one million ground stations to connect users to its Starlink satellite broadband service.

Each ground station is just under 19 inches (.48 m) across.

“It looks like a UFO on a stick,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said earlier this month. “It’s very important that you don’t need a specialist to install. The goal is for … just two instructions and they can be done in either order: Point at sky, plug in.”

SpaceX has launched 362 Starlink satellites as part of a constellation that could eventually total 42,000. The FCC has given Musk’s company approval to launch nearly 12,000 spacecraft. The company has submitted paperwork to place another 30,000 into orbit.

SpaceX plans to launch additional groups of 60 satellites roughly every two weeks aboard Falcon 9 boosters. The company hopes to begin service in the United States later this year.

Musk has said Starlink satellites will be able to deliver high-speed broadband service with latency below 20 milliseconds.

Upcoming Launches to Close Out March

Astra Space 1 of 3 rocket on the launch pad in Alaska. (Credit: DARPA webcast)

Here’s quick look at the launches scheduled for the rest of March. Information from Spaceflightnow.com’s launch schedule.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for March 30 is listed. However, unofficial reports say it has been delayed indefinitely due to travel restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The booster will launch the SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite for Argentine.

What the months ahead hold in terms of launch is uncertain. Europe has suspended flights out of its launch base in French Guiana. Whether other spaceports are closed remains to be seen. China appears to have weathered the worst of the virus.

I would expect crew and cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS) to continue. The first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to ISS is scheduled for mid- to late May. It’s difficult to say whether that schedule will hold.

March 23/24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2C
Payloads: 3 Yaogan 30-06 military surveillance satellites
Launch Time: Approximately 11:40 p.m. EDT on 23rd (0340 GMT on 24th)
Launch Site: Xichang, China

UPDATE: Launch successful.

March 24

Launch Vehicle: Astra Rocket 3.0 “1 of 3”
Payloads: TBA
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Pacific Spaceport Complex, Alaska

UPDATE: Media report of an “anomaly” during a dress rehearsal on Monday.. Extend of anomaly and new schedule uncertain. Doesn’t sound like they’re launching on Tuesday. More details here: https://kmxt.org/2020/03/anomaly-at-pacific-spaceport-complex-launch-rehearsal-no-injuries-as-a-result/

March 26

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Payload: AEHF 6 military communications satellite
Launch Window: 2:57-4:57 p.m. EDT (1857-2057 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

March 29

Launch Vehicle: Electron “Don’t Stop Me Now”
Payloads: Multiple CubeSats
Launch Window: 12:43-2:33 a.m. EDT (0443-0633 GMT)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/

UPDATE: Rocket Lab has suspended preparations on this launch due to the coronavirus.

March 30
(Possibly Postponed)

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 7:21 p.m. EDT (2321 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Crew Dragon Flight to ISS Set for May

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken practice extraction from a Crew Dragon capsule. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Media accreditation is open for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 flight test, which will send two astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. This mission will be the return of human spaceflight launch capabilities to the United States and the first launch of American astronauts aboard an American rocket and spacecraft since the final space shuttle mission on July 8, 2011.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch Crew Dragon, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the spacecraft, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA and SpaceX are currently targeting no earlier than mid-to-late May for launch.

This second demonstration mission of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is another end-to-end flight test of SpaceX’s human spaceflight system, which will include launch, docking, splashdown and recovery operations. It is the final flight test of the system before SpaceX is certified to carry out operational crew flights to and from the space station for NASA.

NASA is proactively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it evolves. The agency will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s chief health and medical officer and communicate any updates that may impact mission planning or media access, as they become available.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry through a public-private partnership to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil. The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches 60 Starlink Satellites in Fifth Use of First Stage

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a first stage being flown for a record fifth time launched 60 Starlink broadband Internet satellites into orbit on Wednesday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Falcon 9 suffered the loss of one of its nine Merlin 1D engines at 2 minutes 22 seconds into the flight. The failure, which occurred 10 seconds before first stage shutdown, did not affect the deployment of the 60 satellites following successful shutdown of the second stage.

However, the engine failure could have been a factor in the failure to land the booster on an offshore drone ship. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that a full investigation was required prior to the next Falcon 9 launch.

The payload fairing was previously flown during the launch of Starlink satellites in May 2019.

SpaceX has now launched 362 Starlink spacecraft, which are intended to provide broadband Internet services around the globe. The Starlink constellation will eventually include nearly 12,000 satellites. SpaceX has also applied for approval to raise that total by 30,000 to 42,000 satellites.

Intelsat Selects SpaceX to Launch Intelsat 40e Satellite

MCLEAN, Va. (Intelsat PR)–Intelsat (NYSE: I) has selected SpaceX as its launch partner for Intelsat 40e (IS-40e). The launch is planned for 2022 on SpaceX’s American-built Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

“We look forward to working with SpaceX to launch Intelsat 40e in 2022,” said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco. “IS-40e will join the Intelsat Epic high-throughput satellite fleet and integrated IntelsatOne ground network to provide our customers with the managed hybrid-connectivity they need in today’s ever-changing world.”

(more…)

Falcon 9 Aborts Launch at T-0

A SpaceX Falcon 9 aborted the launch of another 60 Starlink broadband satellites just as the countdown reached zero and the nine Merlin 1D first stage engines began to fire.

SpaceX tweeted:

Standing down today; standard auto-abort triggered due to out of family data during engine power check. Will announce next launch date opportunity once confirmed on the Range

From what I understand, this means at least one of the nine engines was not powering up the same as the others.

SpaceX Targets Sunday Morning for Sixth Starlink Launch

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Sunday, March 15 at 9:22 a.m. EDT, or 13:22 UTC, for its sixth launch of Starlink satellites, which will lift off from Launch Complex (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This mission marks the first time SpaceX will attempt to refly a first stage for the fifth time. Falcon 9’s first stage supported the Iridium-7 NEXT mission in July 2018, the SAOCOM 1A mission in October 2018, the Nusantara Satu mission in February 2019, and the second launch of Starlink in November 2019. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX is also flying a recovered fairing on this mission; Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported the first launch of Starlink in May 2019 (pictured below). Approximately 45 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX’s fairing recovery vessels, “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief,” will attempt to recover the two fairing halves.

SpaceX’s live launch coverage will begin about 15 minutes before liftoff. To watch the webcast or to learn more about the mission, visit  spacex.com/webcast.

Producing Human Tissue in Space

Space Tango CubeLab on board the International Space Station ISS. (Credit: Space Tango)

ZURICH (University of Zurich PR) — The University of Zurich has sent adult human stem cells to the International Space Station (ISS). Researchers from UZH Space Hub will explore the production of human tissue in weightlessness.

(more…)

Startups Launch Innovative R&D on SpaceX CRS-20 to Improve Patient Care on Earth

Falcon 9 lifts off with the the cargo Dragon CRS-20 mission. (Credit: NASA webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. March 6, 2020 (ISS National Lab PR)  – What if the next breakthrough to improve patient care on Earth came from research off of Earth—in space? Three biotechnology startups have launched research to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, tackling a broad range of patient care objectives—from next-generation diagnostic tools to drug discovery and improved devices for drug delivery.

(more…)

SpaceX Dragon Heads to ISS With Experiments, Bartolomeo Facility

Falcon 9 lifts off with the the cargo Dragon CRS-20 mission. (Credit: NASA webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 11:50 p.m. EST Friday. Dragon will deliver more than 4,300 pounds of NASA cargo and science investigations, including a new science facility scheduled to be installed to the outside of the station during a spacewalk this spring.

(more…)

SpaceX to Launch Dragon Mission to ISS Friday Night

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Friday, March 6 for launch of its twentieth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-20), which will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Launch is targeted for 11:50 p.m. EST, or 4:50 UTC on Saturday, March 7.

Dragon will separate from Falcon 9’s second stage about nine minutes after liftoff and attach to the space station on Monday, March 9. A backup launch opportunity is available on Saturday, March 7 at 11:27 p.m. EST, or 4:27 UTC on Sunday, March 8.

(more…)

Little Tissue, Big Mission: Beating Heart Tissues to Ride Aboard the ISS

Project to help researchers understand aging on Earth, protect astronauts

BALTIMORE (Johns Hopkins University PR) — Launching no earlier than March 6 at 11:50 PM EST, the Johns Hopkins University will send heart muscle tissues, contained in a specially-designed tissue chip the size of a small cellphone, up to the microgravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS) for one month of observation.

(more…)