SpaceX to Launch Majority of 4,000 Starlink Satellites From Cape Canaveral

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with a Dragon resupply ship on April 2, 2018. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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Updated Global Launch Schedule for May

Mars InSight lander (Credit: NASA)

There are some interesting launches among the nine orbital flights currently scheduled for May. Highlights include:

  • NASA’s Mars InSight lander with two deep-space CubeSats (May 5);
  • SpaceX’s first flight of a Falcon 9 Block 5 variant (NET May 7);
  • Two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE Follow-On) satellites (May 19);
  • Orbital ATK’s Antares Cygnus ISS resupply mission (May 20);
  • China’s Chang’e-4 lunar relay satellite with two deep-space microsats (TBD); and,
  • Rocket Lab’s first Electron commercial flight (TBD).

There have been 40 orbital launches through April, with 38 successes, one failure and one partial failure.

The schedule below is subject to change. Please check with our friends at Spaceflight Now for updates.
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Astrobotic Begins Testing on Masten Vehicle in Mojave

A Xombie technology demonstrator from Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif., ascends from its pad at Mojave Air and Space Port on a test for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The vehicle is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing experimental rocket. It is being used in collaboration with NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to evaluate performance of JPL's Fuel Optimal Large Divert Guidance (G-FOLD), a new algorithm for planetary pinpoint landing of spacecraft. Image (Credit: NASA/Masten)
A Xombie technology demonstrator from Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif., ascends from its pad at Mojave Air and Space Port on a test for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The vehicle is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing experimental rocket. It is being used in collaboration with NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to evaluate performance of JPL’s Fuel Optimal Large Divert Guidance (G-FOLD), a new algorithm for planetary pinpoint landing of spacecraft. Image (Credit: NASA/Masten)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Astrobotic PR) — When Astrobotic’s Griffin lander descends to the lunar surface, it will precisely target a small landing ellipse (a small area where it might land) and autonomously maneuver to avoid hazards such as rocks bigger than 25cm and slopes greater than 15°. In last month’s blog post, we introduced the landing sensor package and the concept of map registration – a technique that matches (“registers”) a location in an in-flight image to the same location on a map.

This week, an Astrobotic team led by Kevin Peterson is headed out to Masten Space Systems, located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA, to fly the landing sensor package and software system on the Masten Xombie suborbital rocket.

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Get Your First Look at Golden Spike’s Lunar Lander

Golden_lunar_lander_Northrop
REDONDO BEACH, Calif., May 8, 2013 (NGC PR) —
Northrop Grumman Corporation has completed a feasibility study for a new commercial lunar lander for the Golden Spike Company (GSC). The study confirmed the viability of lander concepts for Golden Spike’s human lunar expedition architecture and conceived a novel new, low-mass ascent stage concept dubbed “Pumpkin.”

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Cool Video: Robotic Lander Takes Flight in Huntsville

Video Caption: On Monday, June 13, the robotic lander mission team was poised and ready when the lander prototype in the adjacent building lifted itself off the ground and rose unrestrained higher and higher. Applause broke out in the control room when the lander gently sat back down. This marks the first free flight of this prototype for the Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The robotic lander flew up to 7 feet for 27 seconds.

NASA Begins Tests on New Robotic Lander in Huntsville

NASA PR – March 3, 2011 — Today, engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., began the first phase of integrated system tests on a new robotic lander prototype at Redstone Test Center’s propulsion test facility on the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal, also in Huntsville. These tests will aid in the design and development of a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of performing science and exploration research on the surface of the moon or other airless bodies, including near-Earth asteroids.

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Masten Wins NASA Contact for Lunar Lander Testbed Development

Masten's Xombie vehicle

NASA recently announced that it would be conducting contract negotiations for 350 projects under its SBIR and STTR programs, which are aimed at promoting space technology development by small businesses. Parabolic Arc will be looking at a number of the proposals involving NewSpace companies that it regularly covers or which involve interesting technologies.

COMPANY:Masten Space Systems
LOCATION:Mojave, Calif.
PROPOSAL:Terrestrial Plume Impingement Testbed
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Robotic Systems for Human Exploration

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT

Masten Space Systems proposes to create a terrestrial plume impingement testbed for generating novel datasets for extraterrestrial robotic missions. This testbed would allow rocket plume interactions with lunar, martian, and asteroid surface simulants in a fully instrumented, easy to access, and low cost environment using Masten Space’s existing VTVL suborbital launch vehicles.

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