Category: SpaceX

June 10, 2019 Off

NASA details Deep Space Atomic Clock and other tests launching on SpaceX Falcon Heavy

By Jill T Frey

SpaceX’s next mission for its Falcon Heavy high-capacity rocket is set for June 24, when it’ll take off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with 20 satellites on board that comprise the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2. That’s not all it’ll carry however: There also will be cargo pertaining to four NASA missions aboard the private launch vehicle, including materials that will support the Deep Space Atomic Clock, the Green Propellant Infusion Mission and two payloads that will serve scientific missions.

NASA detailed all of these missions in a press conference today, going into more detail about what each will involve and why NASA is even pursuing this research to begin with.

Deep Space Atomic Clock

NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock mission, run from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will see a demonstration super-precise atomic clock into low Earth orbit, where it will act as a proof-of-concept for using … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

NASA declares International Space Station ‘open for business,’ including private astronaut visits

By Jill T Frey

At an event on Friday, NASA laid out its plans for making the International Space Station a hub for commercial activity in low Earth orbit. The agency has long planned to make the ISS a key anchor point for helping private business operate in space.

“We’re here because the International Space Station is now open for business,” NASA lead spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz said at the conference outset. Twenty companies joined NASA officials onstage to launch this new commercial ability and discuss the opportunities and plan.

Part of the plan includes allowing private astronauts to visit and stay on the ISS, traveling on U.S. vehicles. It also includes allowing private business activities to take place on the ISS, including “in-space manufacturing,” marketing activities, healthcare research “and more,” NASA says.

NASA articulated a five-part plan that it says “doesn’t conflict” with government and public sector use of the ISS, but that stands … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

SpaceX reveals more Starlink info after launch of first 60 satellites

By Jill T Frey

Last night’s successful Starlink launch was a big one for SpaceX — its heaviest payload ever, weighed down by 60 communications satellites that will eventually be part of a single constellation providing internet to the globe. That’s the plan, anyway — and the company pulled the curtain back a bit more after launch, revealing a few more details about the birds it just put in the air.

SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk have been extremely tight-lipped about the Starlink satellites, only dropping a few hints here and there before the launch. We know, for instance, that each satellite weighs about 500 pounds, and are a flat-panel design that maximized the amount that can fit in each payload. The launch media kit also described a “Startracker” navigation system that would allow the satellites to locate themselves and orbital debris with precision.

Read the rest
May 22, 2019 Off

Review of Elon Musk’s DC-to-Baltimore ‘Loop’ system reveals safety concerns

By Jill T Frey

The Boring Company’s Loop transit system that aims to shuttle people in autonomous electric vehicles between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. fails to meet several key national safety standards, a review of its proposal reveals.

The underground system appears to lack sufficient emergency exits, ignore the latest engineering practices and proposes passenger escape ladders that one fire safety professor calls “the definition of insanity.”

Details of the 35.3-mile system, the first segment in a high-speed network that Boring Company founder and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk hopes will one day run all the way to New York, emerged recently in a 505-page draft environmental assessment.

Musk founded The Boring Company, or TBC, in 2016 after becoming frustrated with Los Angeles’ infamous traffic congestion. The aim was to find an efficient and cost-effective way to dig networks of tunnels for private vehicles. That idea evolved into the Loop, a system that Read the rest

May 17, 2019 Off

Blue Origin and SpaceX get million-dollar NASA nod to test Moon lander tech

By Jill T Frey

Eleven aerospace companies will share more than $45 million in funds from NASA to design and test prototypes for the Artemis Moon missions, the agency has announced. Among the established names like Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada are relative newcomers SpaceX and Blue Origin, looking to make a place for themselves on the agency’s biggest push in decades.

The funds are to enable what NASA calls undefinitized contract actions, in which partners get to work before negotiations on the rest of the contract have concluded. It basically shows that time is of the essence and that NASA is willing to pay up front to someone they may not even contract with later, just to get a jump start on the work that needs doing.

And what’s the work? They’ll be cooking up designs and prototypes for the Human Landing System, which as you might guess will take astronauts (and … Read the rest

May 14, 2019 Off

SpaceX kicks off its space-based internet service tomorrow with 60-satellite Starlink launch

By Jill T Frey

As wild as it sounds, the race is on to build a functioning space internet — and SpaceX is taking its biggest step yet with the launch of 60 (!) satellites tomorrow that will form the first wave of its Starlink constellation. It’s a hugely important and incredibly complex launch for the company — and should be well worth launching.

A Falcon 9 loaded to the gills with the flat Starlink test satellites (they’re “production design” but not final hardware) is vertical at launchpad 40 in Cape Canaveral. It has completed its static fire test and should have a window for launch tomorrow, weather permitting.

Building satellite constellations hundreds or thousands strong is seen by several major companies and investors as the next major phase of connectivity — though it will take years and billions of dollars to do so.

OneWeb, perhaps SpaceX’s biggest competitor in this area, just secured Read the rest

May 14, 2019 Off

Musk’s new lawyer fights ‘pedo guy’ defamation lawsuit claims, questions motive

By Jill T Frey

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s lawyer argued Tuesday in a court filing that the British cave diver who became embroiled in a public spat with his client and later sued for defamation can’t recover damages because his reputation was not harmed.

In court documents filed Tuesday, Musk’s new lawyer Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel questioned the motive of Vernon Unsworth, the British cave diver, who filed a defamation lawsuit in September 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The suit was filed after Musk called him a “pedo guy” and made other statements insinuating he was a pedophile in a public attack on Twitter. The fight erupted last summer after the rescue of youth soccer players trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Musk denies the allegations of defamation in the latest response. Spiro became Musk’s lawyer earlier this month.

“One has to question Mr. … Read the rest

May 13, 2019 Off

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is having trouble — and that’s okay

By Jill T Frey

We may be poised on the precipice of a new era of spaceflight, but leaping prematurely off it would be a costly mistake — which is why the delays and failures of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the new spacecraft that will likely be soonest to take humans to space, are a matter for concern but not worry. In space, you expect the unexpected.

The sudden explosion of a Crew Dragon test capsule is frightening and frankly embarrassing to a company so heavily focused on an image of futurity and reliability. And a failed parachute deployment doesn’t inspire confidence either. But any historian of the space industry will tell you it’s rare that something with rockets on it doesn’t blow up at some point during development.

The Commercial Crew program was established back in 2010 with the goal of sending a crewed mission to the International Space Station, aboard a new spacecraft, … Read the rest

May 10, 2019 Off

Elon Musk’s ‘pedo guy’ defamation case is going to trial

By Jill T Frey

A defamation case filed last year against Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after he repeatedly called a British cave diver “pedo guy” will go to trial on October 22, a U.S. district judge determined Friday.

Vernon Unsworth, the British cave diver, filed a defamation lawsuit in September 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after Musk called him a “pedo guy” and made other statements insinuating he was a pedophile in a public attack on Twitter.

The Verge was the first to report the court decision.

A Tesla spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson denied a motion to dismiss the case and instead scheduled a date for trial. The decision means that Unsworth’s case is strong enough to go to trial.

Musk’s lawyers argued that statements on the internet, and more specifically on unmoderated forums like … Read the rest

May 9, 2019 Off

Jeff Bezos aims Blue Origin at the Moon

By Jill T Frey

Today at a packed event blocks from the White House, Jeff Bezos took the stage in front of select members of the media, executives, government officials and a gaggle of middle schoolers to reveal new details of his plan to get to the Moon by 2024

Blue Origin is going to send humans to space on New Shepard later this year and has unveiled a lunar lander, called “Blue Moon,” to access the resource-rich lunar surface, Bezos said.

Setting the stage with Neil Armstrong’s famous words as the first man to walk on the moon, Bezos took to the stage to explain his vision of answering a very simple question. Given the finite resources available to humanity, “where would a trillion humans live?”

It’s a vision that Bezos has articulated before.

For Bezos, the only impediment to this space … Read the rest