Tag: SpaceX

NASA and Commercial Partners Review Summer of Advancements


WASHINGTON (NASA PR) – NASA’s spaceflight experts in the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) met throughout July with aerospace partners to review increasingly advanced designs, elements and systems of the spacecraft and launch vehicles under development as part of the space agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) and Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiatives.

Blue Origin, The Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX are partners with NASA in these initiatives to develop a new generation of safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit.

Continue reading ‘NASA and Commercial Partners Review Summer of Advancements’

Space Florida Sets Boeing Commercial Crew Rent

High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

Florida Today reports that Space Florida will charge Boeing up to $1 million per year in rent for facilities at the Kennedy Space Center where the company would assemble commercial crew vehicles.

The agreement is contingent upon Boeing winning a contract under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to build the CST-100 spacecraft, which would transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA is expected to announce the next round of program funding soon.

The 10-year lease, which would begin on Jan. 1, 2015, would include a former space shuttle processing facility, an engine shop and offices. Space Florida would spend up to $20 million to renovate the facilities.

Boeing has said the NASA contract would allow it to base more than 500 jobs in Florida. However, the company is not expected to continue with CST-100 development if it does receive additional funds from the space agency.

Boeing is in competition with SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corporation, which also are developing vehicles under the program. NASA expects to announce the next round of funding shortly. It is likely that at least one of the competitors will be eliminated.

SpaceX Denies It is Raising More Investment Funding

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

UPDATE NO. 1: SpaceX has denied the report. “SpaceX is not currently raising any funding nor has any external valuation of that magnitude or higher been done. The source in this report is mistaken,” spokesman John Taylor said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News.

UPDATE NO. 2: Tech Crunch is sticking by its original report. “We have followed up with one of our sources who maintains that there is a secondary offering in process with term sheets circulating.”

SpaceX is raising another round of funding based on a valuation “somewhere south of $10 billion, Tech Crunch reports:

The latest capital infusion includes a large secondary investment, which appears to be somewhere in the region of $200 million. This confirms some of the details published in April this year by Quartz, which cited a source reporting that the company might be raising between $50 million and $200 million.

TechCrunch understands that among those investing in SpaceX are international financiers making secondary investments, but also investment firms in the U.S. such as Draper Fisher Jurvetson. DFJ has been a past investor and it also noted, in May, that it is making an investment in SpaceX out of its latest $470 million fund; Blumberg Capital is another name that TechCrunch has heard in connection with SpaceX financing….

According to Crunchbase, SpaceX has raised $245.5 million in private backing, with the last round disclosed in December 2012. In its first 10 years of operation, SpaceX generated $4 billion in contracts (that includes funding from NASA of between $400 million and $500 million). The manifest for upcoming launches lists just under 40 missions planned between now and 2018.

Read the full story.

NASA Commercial Crew Decision Expected Soon


Charles Lurio of The Lurio Reports that NASA is likely to announce contracts for the next round of the Commercial Crew Program on either Aug. 22 or Aug. 29. Sources have told him that the space agency is likely to make two full awards for partners to build and flight test their crew vehicles.

If he is correct, that would leave one of three competitors — Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation or SpaceX — without a seat at the table. Sierra Nevada and SpaceX have said they would continue with vehicle development if they are not chosen for this round. Boeing has said it would be difficult for the company to close the business case for its CST-100 spacecraft without additional NASA funding.

NASA’s goal is to have commercial crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of 2017. SpaceX has said that it believes it can begin service about a year prior to that deadline with its Dragon V2 spacecraft, which is an upgraded version of the Dragon cargo vehicle that has already flown to and returned from ISS four times. Boeing and Sierra Nevada have said they are on track to meet the 2017 deadline.

Video of Falcon 9 First Stage Descent From Chase Plane


Video Caption: Following the successful launch of six ORBCOMM satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage reentered Earth’s atmosphere and soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean. This footage is from a chase plane filming the decent of the first stage back to earth.

Towards the end of the video, the camera operator attempted to zoom in and unfortunately lost sight of the stage and was unable to capture the tip over into the water.

SpaceX Faces Second Lawsuit Over Pay and Working Conditions

SpacX Founder Elon Musk

SpacX Founder Elon Musk

UPDATE: This is a class-action lawsuit from one ex-employee alleging labor law violations. If he wins, it would affect former and present employees.

SpaceX is facing a second lawsuit from employees, this time from both past and present. Law360.com reports:

For the second time in a week, former and current employees of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. hit the rocket manufacturer with a putative class action in California court, accusing it on Friday of failing to provide rest breaks or pay full wages.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that SpaceX supervisors impose schedules on their employees that make it impossible for them to take statutorily required rest periods every four hours or first or second meal breaks as required by California law.

SpaceX is well known to have a culture in which many employees routinely work 60 to 80 hour weeks. It’s easy to imagine that such schedules require careful attention to rest and meal breaks and accounting for hours worked.

Continue reading ‘SpaceX Faces Second Lawsuit Over Pay and Working Conditions’

SpaceX Seeks Additional Incentives From Local Communities for Texas Spaceport

Artist's conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.

Artist’s conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.

After receiving $15.3 million in state assistance, SpaceX is now negotiating with local and regional authorities for additional financial incentives totaling up to $11.7 million for its launch complex south of Brownsville, Texas.

Continue reading ‘SpaceX Seeks Additional Incentives From Local Communities for Texas Spaceport’

SpaceX Sued Over Mass Firings


spacex_logoSpaceX’s decision to fire workers last month has spurred a lawsuit:

Employees at SpaceX have filed a lawsuit claiming the Hawthorne rocket company laid off 200 to 400 factory workers last month without proper notice under state law.

According to the Cal WARN Act, employers generally must give a 60-day warning to workers before “mass layoffs” can occur. The California Labor Code defines a mass layoff as one that occurs within a 30-day period and affects 50 or more employees.

“The WARN Act is very clear. You’re entitled to back pay and wages if you are not given notice,” said Leonard Sansanowicz, an attorney with Feldman Browne Olivares, the law firm representing former SpaceX technicians Bobby Lee and Bron Gatling.

“The notice is designed to provide the employees with the opportunity to get training in another field or to look for another job,” Sansanowicz said. “This is more of an issue with smaller communities, but even here the effects of laying off 400 people in one day is not minimal.”

After the firings, SpaceX Communications Director John Taylor issued the following statement:

“I can tell you that there was an annual review cycle completed recently, along with some rebalancing of resources. Our resulting headcount reduction was less than 5 percent. SpaceX expects to see net positive employee growth in 2014 of approximately 20 percent.”

Read the full story.

Sierra Nevada Eyes Dream Chaser Test Flights in Fall


Dream_Chaser_LandingSierra Nevada Space Corporation is preparing for a series of Dream Chaser glide flights that will begin in the fall.

The company, which is competing with the Dream Chaser against capsule designs from Boeing and SpaceX for a contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is more than 90% through the qualification program.

Continue reading ‘Sierra Nevada Eyes Dream Chaser Test Flights in Fall’

SpaceX Sets Dates for Dragon Abort Tests

SpaceX Dragon abort test article. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX Dragon abort test article. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has updated its schedule for completing its remaining commercial crew milestones. A pad abort test is now scheduled for November, with an in-flight abort test set for January 2015. NASA recently granted the company an extension to complete its six remaining milestones until March 2015.

SpaceX CCiCAP Milestone Status
Award Period: August 2012 – March 2015
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 14
Milestones Remaining: 6
Total Possible Award: $460 Million
Total Award to Date: $357 Million
Total Award Remaining: $103 Million


11 Pad Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct a pad abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The scenario where an abort is initiated while the CTS is still on the pad is a design driver for the launch abort system as it dictates the total impulse and also requires parachute deployment in close proximity to the ground. December 2013 November 2014 $30 Million
12 Dragon Primary Structure Qualification. SpaceX will conduct static structural testing of all Dragon primary structure components to ultimate load factors, as applicable. This series of tests will validate the Dragon structure’s ability to maintain integrity during all driving load cases as well as verify the accuracy of math models used to analyze the Dragon structure. Individual tests will be designed to exercise all credible failure modes and minimum margin areas. January 2014 2nd Half 2014 $30 Million
13B Ground Systems and Mission Operations Critical Design Review (CDR). Part 2 of the CDR focused on ground systems and mission operations. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 August 2014 $3 Million
13C Crew Vehicle Technical Interchange Meetings. Part 3 of the CDR. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 September 2014 $5 Million
13D Delta Crew Vehicle Critical Design Review (CDR). The final milestone in the CDR.The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.
March 2014 November 2014 $5 Million
14 In-Flight Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct an in-flight abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The in-flight abort test will supplement the pad abort test and complete the corners-of-the-box stress cases. The in-flight abort scenario represents a Dragon abort while under propulsive flight of the launch vehicle during the worst-case dynamic loads on the CTS. April 2014 January 2015 $30 Million