SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Program Delay: 3+ Years

An instrumented mannequin sits in the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-1 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

Updated Oct. 9, 2019 at 9:08 am PDT with paragraph summarizing some of the reasons for the schedule delays.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last week or so about NASA’s delay plagued Commercial Crew Program, which is designed to restore the nation’s ability to launch astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011.

Prior to SpaceX CEO’s Elon Musk’s Sept. 28 webcast update on the Starship program, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine expressed frustration that the company wasn’t more focused on the Crew Dragon program that hasn’t flown astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) yet.

Asked about the delay by a CNN journalist after giving an update on Starship’s progress on Sept. 28, Musk questioned whether Bridenstine was asking about delays at with commercial crew or with NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). He laughed and mugged for the camera.

Musk’s rabid fans cheered it to be a sick burn against against a slow-moving space agency. The administrator diplomatically called it not helpful. He also revealed the cause of his pique.

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NASA Announces New Tipping Point Partnerships for Moon and Mars Technologies

Astrobotic is one of 14 companies selected for NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation. This illustration depicts CubeRover, an ultra-light, modular and scalable commercial rover.(Credit: Astrobotic/Carnegie Mellon University)

Astrobotic, Blue Origin, ExoTerra, Paragon and SpaceX among contract awardees for advanced technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies as partners whose technologies will help enable the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

The selections are based on NASA’s fourth competitive Tipping Point solicitation and have a combined total award value of about $43.2 million. This investment in the U.S. space industry, including small businesses across the country, will help bring the technologies to market and ready them for use by NASA.

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Elon Musk to Provide Starship Update on Saturday as NASA Administrator Gives a Bronx Cheer

UPDATE: The presentation will be at around 8 p.m. EDT tonight. It will be webcast at www.spacex.com/webcast.

If you had plans for Saturday night, you might want to change them.

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk will provide an update on the progress of the Starship Mk1 vehicle live from the company’s test site at Boca Chica Beach in Texas.

Musk tweeted the presentation will start at 6 or 7 p.m. CDT (7 or 8 p.m. EDT).. There are reportedly plans to webcast the event, most likely via the SpaceX website (www.spacex.com). However, those details have not been confirmed.

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Billionaire Japanese Moonaut Sells Majority Share of Fashion Company

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

AFP reports Japanese billionaire billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who has booked a trip around the moon with SpaceX, will sell a majority stake in the Zozo fashion retailer he founded to Yahoo Japan for as much as 400.7 billion yen ($3.7 billion).

Yahoo Japan will acquire up to to 152.95 million shares for a 50.1 percent stake in the company, AFP reports. The total includes 92.7 million shares owned by Maezawa, who holds 30.37 percent of Zozo.

AFP reports he decided to sell to focus on a new business and his plans to fly around the moon in SpaceX’s Starship vehicle in 2023.

“I will leave Zozo’s future in the hands of a new president, and I’ll move on to a new path,” he said in a tweet.

The 43-year-old former wannabe rock star has a personal fortune this year valued around $2 billion, making him Japan’s 22nd richest person.

He made international headlines by booking a ticket aboard a SpaceX rocket, as well as for his purchase in 2017 of a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece for $110.5 million.

At a press conference on Thursday, Maezawa cited his space plans and ambition to start a new business as reasons for stepping down.

SpaceX Files for Permit to Fly Starship at Boca Chica

Super Heavy Starship (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for authority to fly its Starship vehicle to 22.5 km (14 miles/73,819 ft) from its test site at Boca Chica Beach in Texas.

The special temporary authority “is necessary to authorize Starship suborbital test vehicle communications for SpaceX Mission 1569 from the Boca Chica launch pad, and the experimental recovery following the suborbital launch.

“Recovery is limited to 2 functions: (1) prelaunch checkout test of the TC uplink from the ground station at Boca Chica (less than five minutes in duration) and (2) experimental uplink testing from the ground station at Boca Chica during descent,” the application stated.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will provide an update on plans for Starship and the Super Heavy rocket on Sept. 28 at the Boca Chica site.

NASA Releases Draft Environmental Assessment for SpaceX Starship & Super Heavy at KSC

Super Heavy Starship (Credit: SpaceX)

Draft Environmental Assessment
for the SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy
Launch Vehicle at Kennedy Space Center (KSC)

Full Report

August 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has prepared this Environmental Assessment (EA), with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as Lead Agency, to evaluate the potential environmental impacts resulting from construction and operations associated with the proposed SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). This EA analyzes effects on resources due to the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative. Federal agencies are required to consider environmental consequences resulting from their actions.

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NASA’s Uncertain Path Back to the Moon

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nothing illustrates the changes wrought by the Trump Administration’s decision to move up the deadline for returning astronauts to the moon from 2028 to 2024 than a pair of contracts NASA awarded for the Lunar Gateway that will serve as a staging point for the landing.

In May, Maxar won a competitively awarded $375 million contract to build the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). NASA released a source selection statement that detailed how officials evaluated the five bids they received and why Maxar’s proposal was superior to the others.

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Video: SpaceX Starhopper Fires Raptor Engine in Explosive Display

The test vehicle seemed to survive just fine. It looked worse than it was.

SpaceX Pushes Back Starship Hopper Testing by Week

Starship hopper under construction at Boca Chica. (Credit: SpaceX)

The Brownsville Herald reports that SpaceX’s plan for hover tests of its Starship Hopper vehicle has been pushed back by a week.

The county had posted notice earlier this week that testing scheduled for late May was rescheduled to the week of June 3, but those plans are now on hold for another week.

According to a notice posted on the county’s website, State Highway 4 to BocaChicaBeach is scheduled to close from 2 to 8 p.m. on June 11 and/or in the alternative on June 12 and/or on the alternative on June 13.

The county has also established a hotline for road closures. The public can call (956) 548-9541 for information about the closures.