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SES Selects SpaceX for Two Satellite Launches

Falcon 9 static fire. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 static fire. (Credit: SpaceX)

LUXEMBOURG/HAWTHORNE, CA, 25 February 2015 (SES/SpaceX PR) – SES (NYSE Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG) announced today an agreement with SpaceX to launch two new satellites in 2017 – SES-14 and SES-16/ GovSat – using the Falcon 9 rocket.

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SES to Fly Satellite on Upgraded Falcon 9 as SpaceX Plans Barge Upgrade

Falcon 9's Merlin 1D engines in an octoweb structure. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9’s Merlin 1D engines in an octoweb structure. (Credit: SpaceX)

Satellite operator SES has agreed to be the guinea pig for SpaceX’s upgraded Falcon 9 rocket later this year. Meanwhile, SpaceX is upgrading its barge where first stages will land to handle rough seas.

The decision comes after a review of the risks of launching the SES 9 satellite with rocket engines operating at higher thrust for the first time….

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SpaceX Busy on Both Coasts

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is busy on both coasts preparing Pad 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for an upcoming Falcon Heavy launch and signing leases to develop landing pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Vandenberg Air Force Base.

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SNC: So Close Yet So Far….

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

The Washington Post looks at the aftermath of Sierra Nevada Corporation losing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program contract to Being and SpaceX:

On the day of the contract announcement, Mark Sirangelo, director of the company’s space program, took the call at his desk. It was not good news. “Like a death in the family,” he would later say.

And so Sierra Nevada entered a realm particular to the world of government contracting: that of the big-time corporate loser.

Ford will survive if someone decides to buy a Chevrolet, and it won’t break Denny’s if you eat breakfast at IHOP. But the stakes are higher for contractors who put everything on the line in a marketplace dominated by a single customer: the federal government.

The loser’s locker room is a scene of despair, anger, calls for litigious revenge. There is lost revenue, sometimes layoffs, even bankruptcy. In Sierra Nevada’s case, it had a spaceship suddenly in search of a mission and now even more pressure to find a customer to fly it….

The consequences are more pronounced in the landmark, and increasingly rare, multibillion-dollar opportunities such as the one Sierra Nevada was pursuing. Winners can be guaranteed a stream of orders that last years, if not decades. Lose, and you could be shut out of an industry for good.

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Arianespace Beats Out SpaceX for 2 Launch Contracts

An Ariane 5 rocket soars into orbit on Dec. 29, 2010. Credits: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vidéo du CSG

An Ariane 5 rocket soars into orbit on Dec. 29, 2010. Credits: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vidéo du CSG

Arianespace seems to be holding its own in the competition with SpaceX, winning two new launch contracts this week.

The South Korean government has selected Europe’s Arianespace to launch two geostationary-orbit meteorological and environment-monitoring satellites in 2018 and 2019, Arianespace and the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced.

The contract bidding featured a head-to-head competition between Evry, France-based Arianespace and its Ariane 5 rocket and its principal rival, SpaceX of Hawthorne, California and the Falcon 9 rocket….

While it did not explicitly say what tipped its decision for Ariane 5, the ministry’s Feb. 11 statement ahead of the contract’s signature – Arianespace announced the contract Feb. 13 – suggested that Ariane 5’s reliability record of 47 consecutive successes of the current vehicle configuration since 2005 was a factor.

Arianespace and SpaceX equally divided about all the commercial satellite launch contracts in 2014, each with nine wins for the year.

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DSCOVR Headed for L-1

Artist's rendition of NOAA's DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit:  NOAA/NASA)

Artist’s rendition of NOAA’s DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit:

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sent Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft on its way into deep space this evening from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The launch appears to have gone flawlessly, with the spacecraft separating as scheduled and heading off to the sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point located 1.500 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth.

The mission has one of the longest gestation periods in history. Back in 1998, then Vice President Al Gore proposed NASA build an environmental satellite called Triana designed to provide nearly continuous coverage of the Earth from L-1.

Triana, which critics dubbed GoreSat, proved to be controversial. Originally set for deployment from the space shuttle in 2003, the incoming Bush Administration put the satellite in storage in 2001. It was removed for refurbishment at the behest of NOAA in 2008.

In addition to monitoring conditions on Earth, DSCOVR will monitor solar wind conditions and provide early warning of coronal mass ejections.

DSCOVR marks the first deep space mission ever flown by SpaceX. Previously, the Falcon 9 had launched communications satellites to geosynchronous orbits.

SpaceX elected not to land the Falcon 9 first stage on a barge, citing rough seas. The plan was changed to a controlled landing on the ocean.

Google Invested $900 Million in SpaceX

Google_logo_newGoogle invested $900 million of the approximately $1 billion in new funds raised by SpaceX last month, according a document the company filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday. This means that Fidelity Investments contributed the other $100 million.
In the filing, Google said it invested the funds “to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability, and satellite manufacturing.” The money is believed to be focused on a plan to launch 4,000 satellites to provide global broadband coverage.
Google is already experimenting with this technology in Project Loon, which uses high altitude balloons to delivery Internet to remote areas.
“Loon has helped students in Brazil and farmers in New Zealand experience the power of an internet connection for the first time,” the company said in its filing. “And as the program expands, we hope to bring this to more and more people — creating opportunities that simply did not exist before for millions of people, all around the world.”
Google also discussed its $478 million acquisition of Skybox Imaging.
“We expect the acquisition to keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery and, over time, improve internet access and disaster relief,” the company said. “Of the total purchase price of $478 million, $6 million was cash acquired, $69 million was attributed to intangible assets, $388 million was attributed to goodwill, and $15 million was attributed to net assets acquired. The goodwill of $388 million is primarily attributable to the synergies expected to arise after the acquisition. Goodwill is not expected to be deductible for tax purposes.”

USAF Signs Agreement for SpaceX Landing Pad at Cape Canaveral

Proposed SpaceX landing facility (Credit: Gator Engineering & Aquifer Restoration, Inc.)

Planned SpaceX landing facility (Credit: Gator Engineering & Aquifer Restoration, Inc.)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Feb. 10, 2015 (USAF PR)  — Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander, 45th Space Wing, recently signed a five-year leasing agreement with SpaceX that will allow for the creation of the first-ever “Landing Pad” at Launch Complex 13 at historic Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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SpaceX Has Launch, Dragon Recovery Today

Artist's rendition of NOAA's DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit:  NOAA/NASA)

Artist’s rendition of NOAA’s DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit:

UPDATE: Dragon splashed down safely at 7:44 p.m. EST.

UPDATE: The Falcon 9 launch was scrubbed for Tuesday due to high upper level winds. The next launch attempt will be Wednesday at 6:03 p.m. EST.

Today is a busy one for SpaceX with Falcon 9 set to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft from Cape Canaveral and the landing of a Dragon spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean less than two hours later. NASA will broadcast most of the activities live.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of Dragon’s departure from the International Space Station beginning at 1:45 p.m. EST. Dragon will conduct its deorbit burn at around 7:00 p.m. EST, with splashdown set for approximately 7:44 p.m. EST. NASA Television will not broadcast the deorbit burn and splashdown.

The DSCOVR launch is set for 6:05 p.m. EST. NASA Television coverage of Tuesday’s launch will begin at 5 p.m.

There is a backup launch opportunity at 6:03 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit: