Three U.S. Launches Scheduled This Week

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Tuesday, September 29

Launcher: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-44 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Time: 12:02 a.m. EDT (0402 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Company: United Launch Alliance
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

Launcher: Falcon 9
Payload: GPS 3 SV04 navigation satellite
Launch Window: 9:55-10:10 p.m. EDT (0155-0210 GMT on Sept. 30th)
Launch Site:
 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Company: SpaceX
Webcast: www.spacex.com

October 1

Launcher: Antares
Payload: Cygnus ISS resupply ship
Launch Time: 9:38 p.m. EDT (0138 GMT on Oct. 2)
Launch Site: Wallops Flight Facility, Va.
Company: Northrop Grumman
Webcast: http://nasa.gov/ntv

TBA

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 60 Starlink satellite broadband spacecraft
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

The launch was scrubbed on Monday due to weather constraints. SpaceX has not announced a new date yet.

Momentus Announces Appointment of Jikun Kim as CFO

SANTA CLARA, Calif,, September 28, 2020 (Momentus PR) — Momentus Inc. (the “Company”), a commercial space company offering in-space satellite transportation and infrastructure services, today announced the appointment of Jikun Kim as Chief Financial Officer, effective September 28, 2020.

Mr. Kim’s appointment comes as Momentus prepares for the first commercial launch of Vigoride, the Company’s orbital transfer vehicle designed for last mile, in-space satellite transportation services. Vigoride is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December 2020. The launch marks the first time Momentus’ vehicles will carry customers, following a successful in-space test of Momentus’ groundbreaking water propulsion technology.

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SpaceX Wins $109.4 Million Contract to Launch NASA Satellites on Falcon 9

Falcon 9 lifts off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission, which includes four secondary payloads.

IMAP will help researchers better understand the boundary of the heliosphere, a magnetic barrier surrounding our solar system. This region is where the constant flow of particles from our Sun, called the solar wind, collides with winds from other stars. This collision limits the amount of harmful cosmic radiation entering the heliosphere.

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Pixxel Enters Service Agreement with Momentus for Second Satellite Launch

SANTA CLARA, Calif. and Bangalore, India, September 22, 2020 (Momentus PR) — Momentus Inc. (“Momentus” or the “Company”), a commercial space company providing in-space satellite transportation and infrastructure services, and Pixxel, a Bengaluru headquartered space-tech startup, today announced the execution of a service agreement for delivering Pixxel’s second smallsat to SSO orbit in December 2021 onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 launch, as well as options to fly again in 2022.

Pixxel is building a constellation of cutting-edge earth imaging small satellites that can provide real-time remote sensing data across the world. The Momentus Shuttle Service will provide a rideshare for multiple Pixxel spacecraft to predefined orbits.

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SpaceX Postpones Starlink Launch Again

SpaceX has postponed the launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Florida again. The launch was canceled on Thursday and again today due to adverse weather in the Atlantic Ocean where the Falcon 9 first stage was to land on a drone ship.

SpaceX has said weather is expected to be unacceptable for the next several days. The company has not announced a new date for the launch of the 13th batch of the Internet broadband satellites.

NASA to Host Preview Briefings, Interviews for First Crew Rotation Mission with SpaceX

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will highlight the first crew rotational flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station with a trio of news conferences beginning 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 29.

The briefings, which will take place at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The full astronaut crew flying on the mission also will be available for interviews.

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SpaceX to Launch Starlink Satellites Today

Update: SpaceX canceled the launch for Thursday due to an issue with booster recovery. It will attempt to launch on Friday, September 18 at 1:57 p.m. EDT.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Thursday, September 17 at 2:19 p.m. EDT, 18:19 UTC, for launch of its thirteenth Starlink mission, which will launch 60 Starlink satellites to orbit. Falcon 9 will lift off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A backup opportunity is available on Friday, September 18 at 1:57 p.m. EDT, 17:57 UTC.

Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported launch of Crew Dragon’s first flight to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts onboard and the ANASIS-II mission. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. One of Falcon 9’s fairing halves supported two previous Starlink launches.

The Starlink satellites will deploy approximately 1 hour and 1 minute after liftoff.  You can watch the launch webcast here, starting about 10 minutes before liftoff. If you would like to receive updates on Starlink news and service availability in your area, please visit starlink.com.

OmegA Rocket Bites the Dust

OmegA rocket (Credit: Orbital ATK)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Some years ago, I ran into a friend of mine from Northrop Grumman at a conference. Come to think of it, he might have been with pre-acquisition Orbital ATK.

Whatever the case, the subject of the company’s OmegA booster came up.

“It’ll never fly,” he said flatly.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 SAOCOM 1B Onboard Launch & Landing Video

Video Caption: Sped up footage from an onboard camera during Falcon 9’s launch of the SAOCOM 1B mission – SpaceX’s first launch to a polar orbit from the East Coast. After launching from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Falcon 9’s first stage returned to land at Landing Zone 1.

Dispute Erupts Over SpaceX’s Boca Chica Test Facility

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor’s Office)

A dispute has erupted between several environmental groups and the federal government over the impact of SpaceX’s test operations at Boca Chica Beach in south Texas.

The issue: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved SpaceX’s plan to use the coastal site for launching its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets up to 12 times per year.

However, Elon Musk’s company has instead been using its facilities to develop and flight test its larger Starship and Super Heavy boosters. The resulting impacts have been much greater than anticipated under the original proposal, environmental groups argue.

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Vega, Falcon 9 Rockets Set to Orbit More than 100 Satellites

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying Italy’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite on the third Arianespace mission of 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

Arianespace’s Vega and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are set to launch a combined 113 satellites this week.

Vega is scheduled for launch on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 9:51:10 p.m. EDT (01:51:10 a.m. UTC on Sept. 2) from Kourou, French Guiana. You can view the launch on Arianespace’s YouTube channel.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Argentine Satellite

Falcon 9 lifts off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched an Argentine Earth observation satellite on Sunday in a rare polar orbit flight from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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SpaceX Set for Sunday Launch Doubleheader From Florida

UPDATE: The Starlink launch scheduled for the morning was scrubbed due to weather. The SAOCOM 1B mission is still planned for the evening, but the probability of acceptable weather is only 40 percent.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Sunday, August 30th for two launches – a  Starlink mission in the morning and the SAOCOM 1B mission in the evening.  

You can watch the launch webcasts here, starting about 15 minutes before liftoff.

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Delta IV Heavy Performs Spectacularly Unnerving Nighttime Abort

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. — A Delta IV Heavy booster carrying a classified reconnaissance satellite experienced a nail biting abort early Saturday morning as flames licked at the bottom of the giant rocket.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) said the rocket’s automated control system aborted the launch at T minus 3 seconds. The engines on the Delta IV Heavy’s first-stage core and its two side boosters never ignited, the company said.

The abort occurred after the Delta IV Heavy’s radially outward firing initiators (ROFI) had begun firing as planned at T minus 15 seconds. The firing engulfed the bottom of the booster in flames, which is a normal occurrence.

Engineers safed the vehicle and began unloading propellant as a scrub was called. The cause of the abort is unclear, but ULA said it would take a minimum of seven days to recycle the launch.

The rocket’s payload was the NROL-44 satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. The payload is believed to be a signal intelligence gathering satellite.

It’s not known whether the abort will impact SpaceX’s plans to launch two Falcon 9 rockets on Sunday from a nearby pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Pad 39A at the adjoining Kennedy Space Center.