Swedish Company Signs Agreement with SpaceX for Falcon Heavy Launch

Lifting off at 3:45 p.m. from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its demonstration flight. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

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.

(more…)

Rogozin Accuses Musk of Price Dumping

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Although praising Elon Musk as “a talented engineer and an outstanding promoter,” Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin last week accused the American billionaire of selling launch vehicles at below-market prices in order to squeeze out Russian providers.

“If you compare the price Musk sells his rockets to Pentagon at and the price he quotes for them on the market, you will see that this is nothing but pure dumping. In order to drive Russia from the market he sells launches at 40 to 60 million dollars while being paid 150 million for a launch by Pentagon,” he told Russia’s TV Channel One.

SpaceX officials have said that U.S. government launches require additional tasks that drive up the cost.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Glavkosmos Launch Services announced last week that it charges $48.5 million for a Soyuz 2.1 booster with a Fregat upper stage. A launch without the Fregat is priced at $35 million.

Both prices are below the amount SpaceX charges for satellite launches. The Falcon 9 is capable of orbiting larger payloads than the Soyuz 2.

SpaceX Plans First Stage Landing at Vandenberg on Sunday

Falcon 9 lifts off with Iridium Next 41-50 satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster for the first time at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sunday evening.

The launch of the SAOCOM 1A Earth observation satellite for Argentina’s space agency CONAE is scheduled for Sunday at 7:22 p.m. PDT (10:22 p.m. EDT; 0222 GMT on Monday).

In addition to landing the first stage, SpaceX will also attempt to recover half of the payload shroud using a boat named Mr. Steven that it has equipped with a net.

The U.S. Air Force’s 30th Space Wing has notified Central Coast residents to not become alarmed if they hear and see some unusual things during the launch.

 

Local residents may see the first stage of the Falcon 9 returning to Vandenberg AFB, including multiple engine burns associated with the landing.

During the landing attempt residents from Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear one or more sonic booms. A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves from an aircraft or vehicle traveling faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate a sound similar to an explosion or a clap of thunder. The sonic boom experienced will depend on weather conditions and other factors.

Commercial Crew Flights Slip into 2019

NASA assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. The astronauts are, from left to right: Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover. (Credits: NASA)

NASA announced on Thursday that no Commercial Crew Program flight tests to the International Space Station will be conducted this year. The new schedule is:

  • SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): January 2019
  • Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): March 2019
  • SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): June 2019
  • Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): August 2019

On August 2, NASA released the following schedule:

  • SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1 (uncrewed): November 2018
  • Boeing CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): late 2018/early 2019
  • SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 (crewed): April 2019
  • Boeing CST-100 Starliner Crew Flight Test (crewed): mid-2019.

Basically, the flights have slipped two months in the last two months. Further delays are possible.

 

Musk Settles SEC Case, to Give Up Chairmanship of Tesla for 3 Years

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission have reached a settlement in a case in which the billionaire SpaceX founder was charged with fraud, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Musk and Palo Alto-based Tesla agreed to pay a total of $40 million to settle the case, and he will give up his chairmanship for at least three years. The electric-car maker also is required to install an independent chairman and two new board members, though Musk will remain on the board, according to terms of the settlement.

Musk and Tesla will each pay $20 million to settle the case; both reached the deal without admitting wrongdoing. The company declined to comment.

The SEC charged Musk with fraud Thursday, alleging that his tweets about taking Tesla private — at $420 a share — were “false and misleading.” As part of the lawsuit, the agency asked a federal court to remove him from the company’s leadership and ban him from running a public company.

Texas County Approves Incentives Package for SpaceX

Grasshopper on the pad in Texas. (Credit: SpaceX)

Coryell County commissioners in Texas have approved a package of incentives designed to encourage SpaceX to expand its footprint.

The agreement would provide incentives to stimulate, encourage and develop business location and commercial activity in Coryell County in return for which SpaceX would have to maintain a payroll of about $2 million for employees who live in the county.

SpaceX hasn’t publicly announced any plans to expand beyond the more than 4,000 acres it now leases from the City of McGregor, but if the private space exploration company were to expand across the McLennan County line, Oglesby is the community closest to the rocket motor testing facility.

ispace to Launch Lunar Missions on SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2020, 2021

Latest HAKUTO-R Lander and Rover design. (Credit: ispace)

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.

(more…)

Japanese Billionaire is Passenger on SpaceX BFR Moon Flight

Yusaku Maezawa at SpaceX headquarters. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa was introduced on Monday as the customer for SpaceX’s planned circumlunar flight aboard the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR).

The 42-year old billionaire, who founded the clothing company Zozo (www.zozo.com) and collects high-priced art, said he plans to invited six to eight artists on the trip who would create works of art after returning home. The passengers could include painters, sculptors, film directors, architects, writers and fashion designers.

Musk praised Maezawa as brave to take the flight. “This is dangerous, let’s be clear,” Musk warned. “This is no walk in the park.”

Maezawa’s flight is tentatively scheduled to occur in 2023. SpaceX Founder Elon Musk admitted he was not sure of the date because BFR is still under development.

Musk said Maezawa made a significant deposit on the expensive voyage around the moon. The funds will help fund the development and testing of the reusable rocket/spacecraft, which Musk estimated will cost $5 billion.

Maezawa is calling his flight Dear Moon and has established a website, dearmoon.earth. The flight’s Twitter handle is @dearmoonmission.

New Artist’s Conceptions of SpaceX’s BFR in Flight Released

BFR in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk and SpaceX have tweeted some new artist conceptions of the BFR in flight.

BFR in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

Musk tweeted that there is now a “forward moving wing” near the nose.

BFR in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

The announcement of the first passenger signed for a trip around the moon aboard BFR will be webcast tonight at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT) from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.

SpaceX to Reveal First Passenger for BFR Circum-lunar Flight on Monday


HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle – an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space.

Only 24 humans have been to the Moon in history. No one has visited since the last Apollo mission in 1972. Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17 at 6pm PT.

Editor’s Note: SpaceX announced in February 2017 to send two people around the moon aboard a modified Crew Dragon spacecraft using a Falcon Heavy booster.  The two individuals had already paid significant deposits toward the flight, which was to have taken place late this year.

In Febraury 2018, Musk announced that he had scrapped plans to use the Falcon Heavy and Crew Dragon. Instead, the BFR would be used for the cicum-lunar flyby. Musk said earlier this year that BFR could be ready for flights beyond Earth orbit in 2022.

 

Shotwell: Elon’s Fine, Nothing to See Here

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

The kids are all right. So is Elon.

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.

CASIS Announces Request for Proposals to Access Spaceflight Biospecimens

In association with Taconic Biosciences and BioServe Space Technologies, selected concepts from this Request for Proposals will support Rodent Research Reference Mission-1, a CASIS-sponsored initiative to support biospecimen research onboard the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory

Kennedy Space Center, Fla, September 11, 2018 (CASIS PR)  The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for investigators seeking to access biological specimens from its Rodent Research Reference Mission-1, Applications for Spaceflight Biospecimens, to support fundamental biomedical inquiries sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.

(more…)

Spaceflight Offers Rideshare Launches to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit

Partnership with SSL reflects growing need for frequent, affordable access to GTO/GSO; SpaceIL’s Israeli Lunar lander secures ride on first rideshare mission

Paris – September 11, 2018 (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, announced today at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference that it has procured upcoming launches to Geosynchronous Orbit – a popular destination for communications satellites. The company anticipates offering rideshare opportunities to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) approximately every 12-18 months, or as customer demand requires.

(more…)

SpaceX Launches Telstar 18 VANTAGE Communications Satellite

Falcon 9 with the Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellite aboard. (SpaceX webcast)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida early Monday morning.

The launch took place at 12:45 a.m. EDT after being delayed 77 minutes due to lightning in the area. The Falcon 9 first stage landed on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

(more…)

Russia Places Proton Medium Development on Indefinite Hold

Proton variants (Credit: ILS)

SpaceNews reports that Russia has placed development of its Proton Medium rocket on indefinite hold. The booster was a lighter version of the Proton launch vehicle designed to compete directly with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

In a statement to SpaceNews, [International Launch Services] said customers who have already contracted for a Proton Medium launch will be switched to the more powerful Proton Breeze M for no additional charge. ILS declined to say how many Proton Medium missions it has under contract. To date, only Paris-based satellite fleet operator Eutelsat has publicly announced booking a Proton Medium. Eutelsat made its Proton Medium reservation for an unnamed satellite as part of 2016 multi-launch agreement with ILS.

Khrunichev State Research and Production Center, the Moscow-based rocket builder that owns ILS, put Proton Medium development on hold as Russia weighs a speedier transition to the Angara family of rockets meant to replace Proton….

ILS, in its statement to SpaceNews, confirmed that Proton Medium development “has been placed on an indefinite hold” as Roscosmos conducts “an extensive review and analysis of the Russian space sector including the Proton and Angara launch systems.”