SpaceX Plans Two Launches in Two Days

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has planned two Falcon 9 launches this weekend, one from each coast.

A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. The two-hour launch window opens at 2:10 p.m. EDT. The flight marks the second reuse of a first stage.

The second Falcon 9 flight is scheduled for Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The booster will launch 10 Iridium Next satellites.

SpaceX will webcast both flights at www.spacex.com.

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Falcon 9 Launch of Iridium Satellites Slips Two Months

MCLEAN, Va., Feb. 15, 2017 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) announced it has received a targeted launch date of mid-June for the second mission of ten Iridium NEXT satellites.  Originally anticipated for mid-April of 2017, the date has shifted due to a backlog in SpaceX’s launch manifest as a result of last year’s September 1st anomaly.  This second launch will deliver another ten Iridium NEXT satellites to low-Earth-orbit (LEO) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.  SpaceX is targeting six subsequent Iridium NEXT launches approximately every two months thereafter.

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Iridium Adds Eighth Launch With SpaceX for Satellite Rideshare with NASA/GFZ

Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

McLEAN, Va., Jan. 31, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that it has contracted with SpaceX for an eighth Falcon 9 launch. Along for the ride are the twin-satellites of the NASA/GFZ Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, which will be deployed into a separate low-Earth orbit, marking the first rideshare deal for Iridium. An agreement of this kind is economical for all parties, and affords Iridium the ability to launch five additional satellites for its next-generation global satellite network.   The rideshare is anticipated to launch out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by early 2018.

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Iridium Announces Successful First Launch of Iridium NEXT Satellites

Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)
Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 14, 2017 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today the successful launch of its first ten Iridium NEXT satellites. The satellites were delivered into low-Earth orbit approximately one hour after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:54:39 a.m. PST. Iridium NEXT is the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, replacing and enhancing its existing network of low-Earth orbit satellites spanning the entire globe — the largest commercial satellite constellation in space.

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exactEarth Launches Four Hosted Payloads on Iridium Satellite

exactEarth_solid_colorCAMBRIDGE, ON, Jan 16, 2017 (exactEarth PR) — exactEarth Ltd. (TSX: XCT), the leading provider of Satellite AIS data services, announced the successful launch of four hosted payloads for its next generation constellation, exactView™ RT powered by Harris.

Launched aboard an Iridium NEXT satellite on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, these hosted maritime payloads are now being commissioned and are expected to be brought into service within the next four months.

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SpaceX Return to Flight Set for Saturday

spacex_iridium1_patchHAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a global leader in mobile voice and data satellite communications. The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.

SpaceX is targeting launch of Iridium-1 from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window opens on January 14 at 9:54:39 am PST or 5:54:39 pm UTC. The satellites will begin deployment about an hour after launch.

The webcast is available here.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Return to Flight Set for Monday

Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 booster with 10 Iridium communications satellites on board from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Monday at 10:22 a.m. PST.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has Tweeted that a pre-flight engine firing conducted on Thursday was successful. The FAA also issued a license today for SpaceX to perform the launch. The approval includes

The launch will be the first Falcon 9 flight since a booster caught fire and exploded on the launch pad on Sept. 1. The accident, which SpaceX says was caused by a breach in a second stage helium tank, destroyed the $195 million Amos-6 communications satellite.

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SpaceX Targets Dec. 16 for Falcon 9 Return to Flight

Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch 10 Iridium satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. it will be the first flight of the booster since one blew up on the launch pad while being fueled for a test on Sept. 1. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would need to sign off on the flight before it could occur. That approval would come after the FAA reviews the results of SpaceX’s investigation into the September accident.

SpaceX: Giant Leaps, Deep Troughs But No Plateaus

Credit: USLaunchReport.com
Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you’re gone, you can never come back
When you’re out of the blue and into the black.

My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
Neil Young

In his book, “Mastery,” George Leonard provides a fascinating explanation of how people master new skills.

The mastery curve (Credit: George Leonard)
The mastery curve (Credit: George Leonard)

“There’s really no way around it. Learning any new skill involves relatively brief spurts of progress, each of which is followed by a slight decline to a plateau somewhat higher in most cases than that which preceded it,” Leonard writes. “The curve above is not necessarily idealized. In the actual learning experience, progress is less regular; the upward spurts vary; the plateaus have their own dips and rises along the way. But the general progression is almost always the same.”

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A Closer Look at Which Space Companies U.S. VC’s are Investing in

Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s new publication, “Economic Development of Low Earth Orbit,” consists of a series of papers that examines a number of important policy questions that will be of rising importance as NASA transitions human spaceflight in LEO to the private sector.

One of the papers, “Venture Capital Activity in the Low-Earth Orbit Sector,”
has detailed information on what U.S. venture capitalists have invested in. Key excerpts from the paper follow.
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New Iridium Service Replaces and/or Augments GPS

Iridium_logo

MCLEAN, Va., May 23, 2016 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) announced today the official launch of Satellite Time and Location (STL), an alternative or companion to traditional location-based technologies, and declared it ready for use.

For the first time, end users now have access to accurate and resilient position, navigation and timing (PNT) technology that works anywhere on the planet, even indoors. Due to the unique architecture of its 66 cross-linked, low-earth orbit satellite constellation, Iridium® is the only network that has the global coverage and reliability needed to deliver this highly unique, robust and cost-effective solution to the market.

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Iridium Delays Dnepr Launch, Moves Up Falcon 9 Flight

Dnepr launch vehicle. (Credit: ISC Kosmotras)
Dnepr launch vehicle. (Credit: ISC Kosmotras)

In another blow to Ukraine’s struggling space sector, Iridium Communications has postponed plans to launch two Iridium Next satellites aboard a Dnepr launcher.  Instead, Iridium will move up a scheduled launch of spacecraft aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

Space News reports the launch had been scheduled for April. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense has not yet issued the required licenses to launch the booster from Yasny spaceport.

Dnepr is a joint program between Ukraine and Russia under which decommissioned ballistic missiles are converted into satellite launches. Russia has been looking to phase out use of the booster in favor of domestic launchers amid political tensions with Ukraine.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that Ukraine’s space sector has lost up to 80 percent of its revenues as a result of canceled orders from Russia.

The first two Iridium Next spacecraft were to be launched aboard Dnepr so engineers could verify their design and operations. The company plans to launch 72 Iridium Next spacecraft by the end of 2017.

Iridium now plans to launch the first 10 satellites aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket whose flight has been moved up to July from August. A second Falcon 9 would launch an additional 10 spacecraft in October.

The Dnepr launcher could be used later in the Iridium Next deployment sequence if the required licenses are obtained.

Falcon 9 Launch Failure Scrambles Schedule

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the failure of the Falcon 9 on Sunday, SpaceX’s only launch vehicle will be grounded for an unknown number of months while engineers identify the cause of the crash and make necessary changes to ensure that failure won’t happen again.

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Iridium and SpaceX Successfully Complete Dispenser Qualification Tests

Falcon 9 in flight with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 in flight with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

McLEAN, Va., July 3, 2014 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) and SpaceX today announced the successful completion of dispenser qualification testing for the Iridium NEXT constellation. The dispenser is the mission-unique assembly that holds the satellites during launch and manages the perfectly timed separation of each satellite from the rocket, placing each of the satellites into its proper orbit. The testing program, a key milestone in the Iridium NEXT constellation build, included four types of testing on the satellite dispenser: fit check, separation and shock testing, a modal survey, and static loads testing. Overall the tests ensure launch shock environment, mechanical form, fit and function, separation dynamics, fundamental frequency and structural integrity.

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