We continue to track the progress of the Starlink satellites during early orbit operations. At this point, all 60 satellites have deployed their solar arrays successfully, generated positive power and communicated with our ground stations.
Most are already using their onboard propulsion system to reach their operational altitude and have made initial contact using broadband phased array antennas.
SpaceX continues to monitor the constellation for any satellites that may need to be safely deorbited. All the satellites have maneuvering ability and are programmed to avoid each other and other objects in orbit by a wide margin.
Also, please note that the observability of Starlink satellites is dramatically reduced as they raise orbit to greater distance and orient themselves with their phase array antennas toward Earth and their solar arrays behind the body of the satellite.
Editor’s Note: During a talk at MIT earlier this week, President Gwynne Shotwell said 56 satellites were performing as expected and that four had problems. She did not elaborate on the nature of the problems.
HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX’s request to fly more than 1,500 of its Starlink satellites at an altitude of 550 kilometers. Additional information on the approval can be found here, and the following statement can be attributed to Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX:
“This approval underscores the FCC’s confidence in SpaceX’s plans to deploy its next-generation satellite constellation and connect people around the world with reliable and affordable broadband service. Starlink production is well underway, and the first group of satellites have already arrived at the launch site for processing.”
SpaceX is targeting no earlier than May for launch of a Starlink mission.
Last year, SpaceX became the first U.S.-based company to be licensed by the FCC to operate a NGSO constellation of more than 11,000 satellites.
Earlier this year, SpaceX submitted an application to operate 1 million user terminals as well as its first six gateways to provide the necessary communications links back from the satellites to the global Internet. SpaceX intends to install sufficient gateway sites in the U.S. and around the world to ensure that the Starlink satellites have a visible gateway earth station with which they can communicate from all parts of their orbits.
SpaceX is seeking to raise $400 million in its latest round of fundraising. According to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SpaceX has raised 11 percent of the total:
Total Amount Offered: $399,999,936 Total Amount Sold: $43,999,332 Total Remaining to be Sold: $356,000,604
Five investors have participated in the funding round thus far.
Elon Musk’s company is preparing to launch its Starlink constellation of satellites, which could eventually include nearly 12,000 spacecraft that would provide high-speed Internet and other communications services. The launch of the first satellites is scheduled for no earlier than May.
SpaceX has also begun testing its Raptor engine, which will power its Starship vehicle and super heavy booster.
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.
SOLNA, Sweden, October 16, 2018 (Ovzon PR) — In an important step towards growing its satellite service offering, Ovzon has entered into an agreement with SpaceX for launch of Ovzon’s first GEO satellite. The launch is expected to take place no earlier than Q4 2020. The next step for the company is to finalize the procurement of the satellites.
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.
That’s the assessment of SpaceX President & COO Gwynne Shotwell, who was asked about her boss Elon Musk’s erratic behavior in recent months during World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris. Bloomberg reports:
“Elon is a brilliant man,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said Tuesday after speaking at a satellite industry conference in Paris. “He is as lucid and capable as he has ever been. I wish people would not focus on triviality.”
There’s “no chance” that Musk’s conduct will impact SpaceX’s ability to win contracts, and there’s been “no impact at all” on the level of confidence in him on the part of the closely held company’s backers, Shotwell said.
“Look at the work that Elon’s companies do and focus on that. Not on what he does” in his own time, she said.
Shotwell also said that although she loves cars, she has no interest in taking a similar position at Musk’s struggling car company, Tesla Motors.
Video Caption: What’s up at SpaceX? Engineer Gwynne Shotwell was employee number seven at Elon Musk’s pioneering aerospace company and is now its president. In conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson, she discusses SpaceX’s race to put people into orbit and the organization’s next big project, the BFR (ask her what it stands for). The new giant rocket is designed to take humanity to Mars — but it has another potential use: space travel for earthlings.
SpaceX and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have confirmed the company plans to build its BFR rocket at the Port of Los Angeles.
The city Board of Harbor Commissioners will vote Thursday on whether to lease 19 acres to SpaceX for the manufacturing site. The commission’s staff has recommended approval of an initial 10-year term, with two 10-year options, at an annual rent of approximately $1.38 million….
SpaceX, based in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, already uses the Port of Los Angeles for missions that recover Falcon 9 first-stage boosters on a floating platform in the Pacific and when it recovers supply capsules that parachute into the ocean after missions to the international space station.
“SpaceX has called the Port of Los Angeles home to our west coast recovery operations since 2012 and we truly appreciate the City of Los Angeles’ continued partnership,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and COO, said in a statement.
“As announced today by Mayor Garcetti, the Port will play an increasingly important role in our mission to help make humanity multi-planetary as SpaceX begins production development of BFR — our next generation rocket and spaceship system capable of carrying crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond.”
RESTON, Va., April 2, 2018 (AIAA PR) — The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has announced the 2018 recipients of its most prestigious awards. Presentation of these awards and recognition of the Institute’s newly elected Fellows and Honorary Fellows will take place on May 2 at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
The AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala is an annual black-tie event recognizing the most influential and inspiring individuals in aerospace, whose outstanding contributions merit the highest accolades.
WESTMINSTER, Colo. (DigitalGlobe PR) — DigitalGlobe, a Maxar Technologies Ltd. company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE and TSX: MAXR), today announced it has contracted with SpaceX to launch the next-generation WorldView Legion satellite imaging constellation.
In the wake of the apparently unsuccessful launch of the secret Zuma payload, there is still some confusion about what exactly happened and who is to blame.
The top secret satellite for an unidentified government agency is believed to have burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere after failing to separate from the second stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.
However, SpaceX officials say that the Falcon 9 booster performed exactly as planned, so the company is not responsible for any failure that might have occurred.
That would appear to point the finger at Northrop Grumman, which provided the satellite and the adapter that connected it to booster. The company had declined to comment, saying it doesn’t comment on classified missions.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell has issued a statement concerning the Falcon 9 launch of the classified Zuma payload, which reports say was lost:
For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.
Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule. Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight. We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks.
Reports indicate that the satellite’s builder, Northrop Grumman, provided its own payload adapter. So, if the satellite failed to separate from the second stage as reports indicate, the problem lay with the adapter and not the Falcon 9.
The Joint Space Operations Center did enter an object from the launch into its master catalog. That would indicate the satellite did enter orbit; however, it might not still be in orbit.
The president of SpaceX said she expects the company would receive additional funding from the U.S. government to support the development of its large reusable launch system.
Speaking at the NewSpace Europe conference here Nov. 16, Gwynne Shotwell noted that SpaceX is already receiving funding from the U.S. Air Force supporting the development of Raptor, the engine that will power the vehicle known as BFR, or Big Falcon Rocket, and the reusable spacecraft known as BFS or Big Falcon Spaceship.
“I do anticipate that there is residual capability of that system that the government will be interested in,” she said. “I do see that we would likely get some funding from the government for BFR and BFS.” She added, though, that work on the vehicles was not contingent on receiving government funding.
The U.S. Air Force recently issued a request for proposals that will fund the development of new launch systems to replace ULA’s Delta IV and Atlas V boosters.