Amazon Constellation Sends Number of Planned Communications Satellites Soaring Above 20,000

F6 satellite (Credit: OneWeb)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has jumped into a crowded field of companies seeking to provide high-speed broadband, data and other communications services to the entire globe.

Amazon’s Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites brings the total number of spacecraft in the 16 announced systems to 20,241 spacecraft. The competition includes SpaceX, Boeing, Telesat, SES and government-backed companies in China and Russia.

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NASA to Update Schedule for Crew Dragon Test Soon

Completing an end-to-end uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8, 2019, and splashed down at 8:45 a.m. in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the Florida coast. (Credits: NASA Television)

A Crew Dragon with two astronauts aboard will then conduct a flight test to the space station. The planning date for that flight is July.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is working with SpaceX to return human spaceflight launches to American soil. The company completed an uncrewed flight test, known as Demo-1, to the space station in March.

SpaceX now is processing the same Crew Dragon spacececraft for an in-flight abort test. The company then will fly a test flight with a crew, known as Demo-2, to the station.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and SpaceX are expected to reevaluate its target test dates in the next couple weeks.

Editor’s Note: Current target test dates are June for the in-flight abort test and July for the crew test to the space station.

Will Alcântara Finally Stop Being the Spaceport of the Future?

Cyclone 4 launch pad under construction. (Credit: Alcantara Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Brazil’s decades-long effort to launch satellites from its underused Alcântara Launch Center could finally be bearing fruit.

On Monday, Brazil and the United States signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that will allow American companies to launch orbital rockets from Alcântara.
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Starship Hopper Testing Set for Wednesday at Earliest

The Monitor reports on SpaceX’s plans to test its Starship Hopper this week at Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas:

Cameron County has posted public notice that it will close Highway 4 to Boca Chica Beach for space flight activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

In the alternative, the public notice said Highway 4 to Boca Chica Beach will be closed for the same time duration on either Thursday or Friday.

What Lies Ahead for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

Completing an end-to-end uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8, 2019, and splashed down at 8:45 a.m. in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the Florida coast. (Credits: NASA Television)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The splashdown of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft this morning after a successful automated flight to the International Space Station (ISS) kicks off a busy period for NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

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Rogozin Has Nice Things to Say About Crew Dragon, Musk

Editor’s Note: Rogozin’s Twitter account is limited to approved followers, not the general public. The Kremlin has appointed a minder over at Roscosmos to tamp down on the general director’s public comments.

My guess is that after the dust up over Roscosmos’ tweet after Crew Dragon docked, someone (Putin?) talked to (yelled at?) Rogozin and made sure he (his political minder?) made sure something nice was tweeted for the landing.

Videos of Crew Dragon Reentry, Splashdown and Recovery

Video Caption: SpaceX Demo-1 Crew Dragon performed the 15-minute, 25-second deorbit burn on 8 March 2019, at 12:52 UTC (07:52 EST). The spacecraft splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean occurred at 13:45 UTC (08:45 EST). SpaceX’s recovery ship GO Searcher will recover it and return it to Port Canaveral, Florida to conclude its mission. Demo-1 was SpaceX’s first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission to the ISS.

Crew Dragon Splashes Down After Successful Flight

Completing an end-to-end uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8, 2019, and splashed down at 8:45 a.m. in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the Florida coast. (Credits: NASA Television)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA passed a major milestone Friday in its goal to restore America’s human spaceflight capability when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth after a five-day mission docked to the International Space Station.

About 6 hours after departing the space station, Crew Dragon splashed down at 8:45 a.m. EST approximately 230 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX retrieved the spacecraft from the Atlantic Ocean and is transporting it back to port on the company’s recovery ship.

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Report: Pentagon Reviewing Elon Musk’s Security Clearance

Editor’s Note: The investigation might not be only about the pot smoking. Investigators could be examining unconfirmed published reports that say Musk has used cocaine, LSD and ecstasy. I stress these stories are unconfirmed, but they have been circulating for many months now. And Musk’s behavior over the past year has been erratic and even bizarre.

Hatch Closed on Crew Dragon, Return to Earth Set for Friday

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The SpaceX Crew Dragon’s hatch is closed and the stage is set for the Commercial Crew Program’s first undocking and return to Earth Friday. As NASA and SpaceX get ready for Friday’s splashdown, the Expedition 58 crew continued exploring a variety of space physics phenomena aboard the International Space Station.

The uncrewed SpaceX DM-1 mission has one final milestone and that is the safe return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 a.m. EST Friday. The Crew Dragon will undock Friday at 2:31 a.m. from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. NASA TV will broadcast the departure and return activities live.

The first commercial crew vehicle from SpaceX will be bringing back over 330 pounds of science gear, crew supplies and station hardware. It delivered almost 450 pounds of materials to resupply the station crew on March 3.

Friday, March 8

  • 2:00 a.m. – NASA TV nndocking coverage begins
  • 7:30 a.m. – Deorbit and landing coverage
  • TBD – Post-landing briefing on NASA TV, location TBD, with the following representatives:
    • Steve Stich, deputy manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • International Space Station Program representative
    • SpaceX representative
    • Astronaut Office representative

For more information on event coverage, got to:

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-spacex-demo-1-briefings-events-and-broadcasts

Crew Dragon Retires Big Risks, More Challenges Lie Ahead

The first Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

“Hope comes in many forms.”
— Dr. Jennifer Melfi, The Sopranos

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

So far, so good.

Crew Dragon automatically docked at the International Space Station (ISS) this morning. Although it lacked astronauts, it is was a milestone in NASA’s Commercial Crew program that has funded SpaceX and Boeing to produce vehicle to replace the space shuttle the agency retired in 2011.

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Videos of Crew Dragon Docking & Welcome Ceremony

Video Caption: SpaceX Demo-1 Crew Dragon autonomously docked to the International Space Station’s Harmony module forward International Docking Adapter (IDA) on 3 March 2019, at 10:51 UTC (05:51 EST).

Demo-1 is SpaceX’s first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission to the ISS and was launched by a Falcon 9 rocket (Block 5 B1051) from the Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 2 March 2019, at 07:49 UTC (02:49 EST). The Crew Dragon transports roughly 180 kg (400 pounds) of crew supplies and equipment, as well as an anthropomorphic test device (ATD) fitted with sensors and nicknamed Ripley.

Video Caption: NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko welcomed SpaceX Demo-1 Crew Dragon on 3 March 2019. The spacecraft autonomously docked to the International Space Station’s Harmony module forward International Docking Adapter (IDA) on 3 March 2019, at 10:51 UTC (05:51 EST) and the hatch was opened at 13:07 UTC (08:07 EST).