Spaceflight Inc. Closes 2019 with Three Successful Launches in One Week Across Three Continents

PSLV-C48 launch (Credit: ISRO)

SEATTLE, December 11, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) - - Spaceflight, the leading provider of mission management and rideshare integration services, today announced it successfully executed nine missions in 2019, the most rideshare launches the company has performed in one year, representing a 300 percent growth from the previous year.

The company ended last year with its historic dedicated rideshare mission, SSO-A, and continued to execute many more firsts in 2019. This includes the most recent accomplishment of manifesting and managing three rideshare launches in one week on three continents. The final missions of 2019 were SEOPS-2 (ISS SpX-19/NG-12) launched in the U.S., RL-2 (Rocket Lab’s “Running Out of Fingers”) launched in New Zealand, and PSLV-C48 launched in India.

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Kepler Communications Selects SpaceX to Launch Two Batches of its Nanosatellite Constellation

TORONTO, December 12, 2019 (Kepler PR) — Kepler announced today that it has selected SpaceX as launch partner to deliver a portion of its first Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation into space onboard SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Kepler has procured 400 kg of launch capacity from SpaceX for the deployment of multiple satellites. These spacecraft incorporate both a high-capacity Ku-band communications system and a narrowband payload, for both high-speed data transfers and for low-power direct-to-satellite IoT connectivity.

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Dragon Cargo Ship Arrives at Space Station

Falcon 9 launches the CRS-19 mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:47 a.m. EST.

The 19th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,700 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the science arriving at station:

Keeping Bones and Muscles Strong
Rodent Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

Checking for Leaks
NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) units to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Next up, the station crew will be preparing for the arrival early Monday morning of a second resupply spacecraft. The Russian Progress 74 that launched Friday at 4:34 a.m. is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking at 4:45 a.m.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

CIMON-2 on Way to ISS

Cimon 2 during tests. (Credit: DLR)
  • Like its predecessor, the technology experiment, developed and built in Germany, is designed to interact with astronauts in the Columbus laboratory.
  • CIMON-2 has a better ‘sense of orientation’ and is more ’empathic’.
  • DLR, Airbus and IBM continue their partnership.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — A new Crew Interactive MObile companioN (CIMON) is on its way the International Space Station (ISS). On 5 December 2019 at 18:29 CET (12:29 local time) the US SpaceX CRS-19 mission lifted off from the spaceport at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Rocket Lab Launches Satellites, Tests Next-Gen Reusable Booster

Electron booster blasts into space. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Rocket Lab next-generation Electron rocket blasted off from New Zealand on Friday, placing seven small satellites into Earth orbit and conducting the first test of a new reusable first stage.

The Electron’s 10th launch, nicknamed “Running Out of Fingers,” included six PocketQube micro-satellites measuring a mere 5 cm built by Alba Orbital. A seventh satellite built by a Japanese company will release particles that will create an artificial meteor shower.

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SpaceX Launches Dragon Resupply Ship to International Space Station

Falcon 9 launches the CRS-19 mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Dragon resupply ship with approximately 5,700 pounds of cargo for astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The booster lifted off at 12:29 EST from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon separated from the second stage and deployed its solar arrays to begin a 2.5 day trip to space station.

This is SpaceX’s nineteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission under a contract with NASA. The Dragon spacecraft has previously flown on two previous resupply missions to ISS.

Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship. The landing marked the 46th successful recovery of a Falcon first stage.

The launch was the first of two resupply missions in less than 24 hours. Roscosmos will launch the Progress 74 cargo ship on Friday.

NASA TV’s coverage of the two missions is below.

Upcoming NASA TV Live Events (All Times Eastern)

Friday, Dec. 6, 4:15 a.m.: NASA TV coverage of Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft launch to International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 4:34 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Sunday, Dec. 8: SpaceX CRS-19 Dragon cargo spacecraft rendezvous, grapple and attaching to the International Space Station.

Sunday, Dec. 8: SpaceX CRS-19 Dragon cargo spacecraft installation to the International Space Station. Dragon will be installed to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station.

Monday, Dec. 9, 4:45 a.m.: NASA TV coverage of Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft docking to International Space Station. The spacecraft is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m.

Overview of Cargo Dragon Launch

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed due to high altitude winds and windy seas. SpaceX will try again on Thursday at 12:29 p.m. EST/ 17:29 UTC.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, December 4 for launch of its nineteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-19) at 12:51 p.m. EST, or 17:51 UTC, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast.

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NASA Launching RiTS, a ‘Robot Hotel’ to the International Space Station

RELL Engineering Development Unit (left) pictured alongside RiTS flight unit that will fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX-19. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Sometimes robots need a place to stay in space, too. NASA is attaching a “robot hotel” to the outside of the International Space Station with the upcoming launch of the Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a protective storage unit for critical robotic tools.

RiTS is set to launch on Dec. 4 aboard the 19th SpaceX commercial resupply mission. Its first residents will be two Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL). Outfitted with mass spectrometers capable of “sniffing” out the presence of gases such as ammonia, these robotic tools are used to detect leaks from the station. Two RELL units are on board the station right now: the first RELL launched in 2015, and it proved to be such a success that a second RELL was launched as a backup earlier this year.

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Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test Set for No Earlier Than December

Crew Dragon abort static test (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Media accreditation is open for SpaceX’s In-Flight Abort Test as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The flight test of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft is targeted for no earlier than December – an exact test date still is to be determined — from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This will be among the final major tests for the company before NASA astronauts will fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. As part of the test, SpaceX will configure the spacecraft to trigger a launch escape shortly after liftoff and demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency. The demonstration also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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 for the first time since 2011. The goal of the program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

For test coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the test, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

SpaceX Cargo Mission to Carry a Diverse Set of ISS National Lab-sponsored Payloads

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), November 26, 2019 – The International Space Station (ISS) is poised to receive a multitude of critical research and supplies as part of SpaceX’s 19th commercial resupply services mission (SpaceX CRS-19) to the orbiting laboratory (contracted by NASA).

A wide variety of research investigations sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory will be part of this mission, including payloads from the life, materials, and physical sciences—each designed to leverage the unique space-based environment of the station to benefit life on Earth.

The launch is presently slated for no earlier than December 4 at 12:51 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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SpaceX Says Destroyed Starship Wasn’t Going to Fly Anyway

SpaceX said the Starship Mk1 vehicle that exploded at its Boca Chica Beach test facility on Wednesday wasn’t going to fly, despite what company Founder Elon Musk had promised during a webcast in September.

“The decision had already been made to not fly this test article and the team is focused on the Mk3 builds, which are designed for orbit,”  the company said in a statement.

The rocket, constructed out of stainless steel, literally blew its top while it was undergoing a pressurization test.

“The purpose of today’s test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected,” SpaceX said. “There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback.”

During a webcast from Boca Chica on Sept. 28, Musk stood in front of the vehicle and said it it would fly to 65,000 (19.8 km) within a month or two. He also said he hoped an upgraded variant of Starship would make an orbital flight within six months.

The SpaceX founder also talked about rapid iteration of the vehicle. Starships are being developed at Boca Chica and a site in Florida.

SpaceX is developing Starship for missions to Earth orbit, the moon and Mars. Musk has also pitched the spacecraft as a civilian transport for rapid point to point travel between distant locations on Earth.

For space missions, Starship will be teamed with a first-stage booster known as the Super Heavy.

Research Launching on SpaceX Dragon to Enable Better Earth Images, Easier Leak Checks

This image of the Chapman Glacier, located on Ellesmere Island in Canada, was taken by ASTER. Formed by the merger of several smaller glaciers, rocky debris on top of the glacier clearly marks the edge of each glacier. The JAXA Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) is a follow-on to ASTER, serving as a next-generation, space-borne hyperspectral Earth imaging system. (Credits: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The 19th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-19) contract mission for NASA carries a variety of cutting-edge scientific experiments to the International Space Station. The Dragon cargo spacecraft blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Dec. 4, 2019.

Its payloads include investigations studying malting barley in microgravity, the spread of fire and bone and muscle loss, which will be added to the dozens of research projects already under way aboard the microgravity lab.

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