Tag: SpaceX

Historic Pad 39A Being Transformed for Falcon Launches

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Pad 39A (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Removing hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel and adding robust, new fixtures, SpaceX is steadily transforming Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for use as a launch pad for its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. The launchers will lift numerous payloads into orbit, including the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts aboard bound for the International Space Station.

Pad 39A is being modified for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A is being modified for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

A horizontal integration facility was built at the base of the pad and rails installed running up the incline to the flame trench. Instead of arriving to the pad on the back of the crawler-transporters, SpaceX rockets will roll on a custom-built transporter-erector that will carry them up the hill and then stand the rocket up for liftoff. The fixed service structure at the pad deck will remain, although more than 500,000 pounds of steel has already been removed from it. SpaceX has already started removing the rotating service structure, which is attached to the fixed structure. Built for the need to load a shuttle’s cargo bay at the pad, it does not serve a purpose for Falcon launchers whose payloads are mounted on the top of the rocket.

Pad 39A  (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

SpaceX leased the historic launch pad from NASA in April 2014 and has been steadily remaking it from a space shuttle launch facility into one suited for the needs of the Falcon rockets and their payloads. It is the same launch pad where Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off on July 16, 1969, to begin their Apollo 11 flight that would make history as the first to land people on the moon. Almost all signs of Apollo-era hardware were removed from the launch pad when it was rebuilt for the shuttle.

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Video of Falcon 9 First Stage Crash on Ship

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Launches This Week: Falcon 9, Ariane 5 & New Shepard

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BE-3 restarted at 3,635 feet above ground level and ramped fast for a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

BE-3 restarted at 3,635 feet above ground level and ramped fast for a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

UPCOMING LAUNCHES

Wednesday, June 15
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: Eutelsat 117 West B & ABS 2A
Launch Window: 1429-1513 GMT (10:29-11:13 am EDT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Thursday, June 16
Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Payloads: EchoStar 18 & BRIsat
Launch Window: 2030-2115 GMT (4:30-5:15 pm EDT)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana

Friday, June 17
Launch Vehicle: New Shepard
Payload: New Shepard capsule
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Corn Ranch, Texas
Webcast: TBA

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Readers on Lynx: It’s Dead, Jim

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Lynx_suspended_pollParabolic Arc readers are not real optimistic about the future of the Lynx, the suborbital space plane that XCOR suspended work on recently when it laid off most of the staff working on it.

Sixty-nine percent of voters believe that Lynx is as dead as a door nail despite XCOR’s pledge to revive work on the program at a future date. Only 13 percent of voters believe Lynx will fly at some point in the future.

The remaining 18 percent of voters just didn’t care, viewing suborbital space travel as being about a dozen years past its prime.

We’ve got a new poll up on the site asking whether you would like to go to Mars on one of the human missions Elon Musk is planning to launch beginning in 2024.

As I’ve said before: vote early, vote often. Just vote, dammit! Vote! And remember, no wagering.

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Space Angels Network Opposes Use of Surplus ICBMs to Launch Commercial Satellites

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A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

The Space Angels Network has sent the following letter opposing the use of surplus ICBMs for the launching of commercial satellites to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Commercial Crew Manufacturing Gains Momentum Coast to Coast

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Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.  (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Manufacturing facilities are in operation on the east and west coasts to build the next generation of spacecraft to return human launch capability to American soil. Over the past six months, Boeing and SpaceX – the companies partnered with NASA to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station – each have begun producing the first in a series of spacecraft.

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Dish Network Battles OneWeb & SpaceX Over Spectrum Allocation

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OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

The battle over the allocation of Ku-band spectrum is heating up.

A coalition of 5G terrestrial mobile broadband companies led by Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network on June 8 asked U.S. regulators to strip future low-orbiting satellite Internet constellations of their priority access to 500 megahertz of Ku-band spectrum – spectrum coveted by prospective constellation operators including OneWeb LLC and SpaceX.

SpaceX and satellite fleet operator Intelsat, a OneWeb investor and partner, immediately filed separate opposition papers to the FCC, arguing that nongeostationary-orbit (NGSO) constellations are very much alive.

In a June 8 submission to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the coalition says the low-orbiting satellite constellations in Ku-band have provided no credible evidence that they will ever be built. Even if they are, there is plenty of spectrum available in both Ku- and Ka-band, the coalition said.

“There is simply no basis to jeopardize 5G [Multi-Channel Video Distribution and Data Service, or MVDDS] deployment to give additional spectrum to a speculative NGSO service that already has access to ample spectrum,” the MVDDA Coalition said in its FCC petition, referring specifically to OneWeb.

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Tributes Flow in for Patti Grace Smith

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Patti Grace Smith, Champion of Private Space Travel, Dies at 68: The New York Times

In an email, Elon Musk, the PayPal and Tesla entrepreneur who founded SpaceX, a company that has developed launch vehicles, wrote that Ms. Smith had “helped lay the foundations for a new era in American spaceflight.”

“We are closer to becoming a multiplanet species because of her efforts,” he added.

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Boeing, SpaceX Continue to Make Progress on Crew Vehicles

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Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing's CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing’s CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Hundreds of engineers and technicians with NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX have ramped up to complete the final designs, manufacturing, and testing as they continue the vital, but meticulous work to prepare to launch astronauts to the International Space Station.

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I Will Launch America: Derek Otermat

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Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Years of intense design work on the complex communication systems destined for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner are about to be put to the test. And the engineer who developed the specialized communication system test equipment that will put those systems through more stress than any real-life situation could present will be right there to see his work in action.

“The challenge will be making sure we covered everything,” said Derek Otermat, an engineer on the integration and test team who was recognized as the company’s Florida “Engineer of the Year” recently. “We have to understand the ins and outs of how our systems work. Testing provides us the opportunity to identify issues early on, which helps mitigate in-flight issues and ensures safe and successful missions.”

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Video of Full Elon Musk Interview at Code Conference

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Video Caption: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Walt Mossberg about his plans to send a one-way rocket to Mars in 2018. He estimates colonists could start arriving on the Red Planet by 2025. Musk also talks about the proliferation of electric vehicle initiatives that compete with his other company, Tesla, and why autonomous cars will become the norm. He says he doesn’t see Google as a competitor, but that “Apple will be more direct.” Plus: Why Musk wants more people to have access to the power of artificial intelligence.

Editor’s Note: Musk said he hopes to launch one of its recovered first stages within 2 to 3 months. He re-iterated his hope to launch the Falcon Heavy by the end of the year.

On Mars, Musk said SpaceX plans to send flights to Mars every 26 months beginning with the 2018 launch window. If everything goes according to plan, the first crew would be launched in 2024 and arrive the following year. He also talked about creating a way to get people to Mars in 3 months with the goal of reducing transit times to 1 month.

Musk said he thought direct democracy — people voting on laws — would be best for Mars. He feels it would be less corrupt than representative democracy. However, he felt it should be easier to repeal existing laws than to make new ones.

Musk plans to unveil his full plan for colonizing the Red Planet at a conference in Mexico in September.

Watch Falcon 9 First Stage Landing From On Board Camera

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Video: Musk, Bezos & Branson Talk Commercial Space

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SpaceX Running More Than One Year Behind Schedule on Commercial Crew

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Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s commercial crew program is running more than a year behind schedule on the Commercial Crew program it is performing for NASA.

Garrett Reisman, SpaceX’s Director of Crew Operations, said on Tuesday that an automated flight test of the Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS) has slipped into the second quarter of 2017.  (Spaceflight Now has the mission listed for May 2017.) It was scheduled to occur in March 2016 under the contract NASA awarded to SpaceX in September 2014.

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I Will Launch America: Launch Site Integrator Misty Snopkowski

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i_will_launch_misty_snopkowskiBy Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Misty Snopkowski has worked on human spaceflight initiatives since 2003, building up expertise with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs and now standing on the precipice of the new era in human spaceflight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“I got to work up until the very last shuttle launch in 2011, which was a pretty amazing period in time,” Snopkowski said. “Then I joined commercial crew. You flip the script and go into a brand new program. I was this young person who got to start at the very beginning of a new program and most people don’t ever get that opportunity.”

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