Tag Archives: Falcon 9

SpaceX launch aborted and postponed for today. You can still watch it live

One Falcon 9 rocket that was shuttling Starlink satellites into orbit for SpaceX has encountered problems before launch on Sunday night. The launch was aborted just 90 seconds away from taking off.

A batch of 60 Starlink satellites coming close to being deployed into orbit aboard a Falcon 9. Image credits Official SpaceX Photos.

The veteran rocket was scheduled to take 60 new Starlink satellites to orbit, helping the company establish its fleet of internet-providing orbiters. Still, not everything went according to plan and the launch was postponed to later today, March 1st.

Automatically aborted

“Overall, the vehicle and payload are healthy and remain in good health,” SpaceX production supervisor Andy Tran explained during live launch commentary. “The next launch opportunity is tomorrow, March 1, at 8:15 Eastern time.”

Safety systems aboard the Falcon 9 rocket activated just 90 seconds before the scheduled launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Pad 39A. While nothing went really wrong, which would probably involve an explosion, this event doesn’t bode very well for SpaceX.

This was the latest in a series of delays for this particular mission (Starlink 17). It was originally slated for earlier in February but delayed due to poor weather and hardware issues. There are already around 1,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, which will work together to deliver high-speed internet coverage around the world, particularly to remote areas.

Today’s launch will be SpaceX’s 20th Starlink mission, and their sixth launch of 2021. The same rocket will be used as yesterday, a tried and tested veteran whose first-stage booster has launched off seven times to date — five times for Starlink, and once each to launch the Iridium-8 and Telstar 18 Vantage satellites.

If everything goes well this time, the rocket will touch back down on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX’s current Block 5 Falcon 9 rockets are designed to fly 10 missions before replacement — so its first-stage booster is nearing the end of its service life.

According to the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, there is a 70% chance of good weather for a SpaceX launch on Monday night. Hopefully that forecast proves to be right so we can watch the rocket blast off on SpaceX’s live stream

SpaceX makes history, launches its first crew mission to the ISS

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley launched towards the International Space Station on a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket on Saturday, at 3:22 p.m local time, marking the first human spaceflight performed by a private-government partnership.

The launch performed at the historic Launch Complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is the first piloted launch to orbit from American soil since the shuttle was retired nearly nine years ago. Since 2011, when the US Space Shuttle program was discontinued, all manned flights to the International Space Station were performed using the Russian Soyuz rockets.

After a 9-minute two-stage flight, the Crew Dragon capsule coasted for another 3 minutes, performing slight attitude adjustments before physically separating from the entire Falcon 9 rocket.

The Falcon 9’s first-stage rocket made a controlled landing 9 and a half minutes after launch on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.

History in the making

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 Launch: Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission is SpaceX’s most important test thus far and its success opens the doors wide open for human spaceflight through a government-private partnership.

Behnken and Hurley were originally supposed to head for the ISS on Wednesday, May 27, but the spaceflight was postponed due to bad weather caused by the Tropical Storm Bertha, just 16 minutes and 53 seconds prior to the much-anticipated launch.

Hurley and Behnken will monitor a mostly automated rendezvous with the ISS after approximately 19 hours of flight. They’re expected to dock at the forward port of the lab complex around 10:30 a.m. EDT Sunday.

After the docking process is complete, the two astronauts will board the ISS and officially become members of Expedition 63 Crew. Their tasks will involve performing tests on the Crew Dragon, as well as conducting research.

Behnken previously completed two space shuttle flights in March 2008 and February 2010, and performed three spacewalks during each mission.

Hurley completed two spaceflights in July 2009 and July 2011.

The mission is expected to last no more than 90 days, since the Crew Dragon capsule’s operating life is about 114 days. The spacecraft’s lifespan is limited by its solar panels that get damaged with time.

Once their mission is complete, the two astronauts will leave the ISS by boarding back into the Crew Dragon capsule and performing a deorbit burn lasting 12 minutes, followed by atmospheric re-entry. The capsule should splashdown somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean where it will be rendezvoused by the Go Navigator Recovery Vessel.

“Mighty Mice” arrive at the ISS to improve astronaut health

Credit: The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (JAX-GM).

A successful SpaceX docking to the International Space Station (ISS) brought more than the usual supplies. Also aboard the Dragon capsule are 40 genetically modified mice, dubbed “Mighty Mice”, which will be used to test muscle loss in microgravity.

Jacked mice

Two challenges that astronauts face in weightlessness are muscle and skeletal atrophies which can cause heart disease and osteoporosis for long periods of time. This limited muscle growth is caused by a protein called myostatin.

The mice recently sent to the ISS have been genetically modified to lack myostatin and therefore display approximately twice the average muscle mass. The rodents will spend 30 days confined in an experiment which will study how microgravity affects their muscles and bones.

Scientists are hoping that the research will bring to light the method of blocking the protein which should counter the effects of microgravity as well as used to treat patients recovering from hip fracture hip surgery, intensive care patients as well as the elderly.

“This is a project that I’ve been trying to get off the ground, so to speak, for many, many years,” said researcher Se-Jin Lee, a professor at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, who is leading the study.

“To see it all come together now is nothing short of amazing. The knowledge we gain about microgravity’s effects on muscles and bones will help us to enhance the health of astronauts – both in space and on Earth, and also better understand the promise that myostatin inhibitors hold for the elderly, people who are bedridden, and for people experiencing muscle-wasting related to diseases like AIDS, ALS, cancer, and so many others,” he added.

Lee discovered the myostatin gene in 1997, and was the first to show myostatin’s role in regulating muscle growth. His space-based project, funded by a competitive grant from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space will explore the new angle on the role of myostatin.

The launch will be the 19th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services contract mission for NASA and is also carrying a number of other experiments to the ISS, including malting barley in microgravity for beer, launching new communication satellites, understanding the spread of fire in space and measuring gravity.

The new Falcon 9 booster lifted the payload to the ISS from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Take-off was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was delayed almost 24 hours by high altitude winds and choppy seas that could have impacted the droneship landing pad in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster then had a successful landing aboard SpaceX’s Of Course I Still Love You platform.

Falcon 9 booster.

Tonight, SpaceX will live-broadcast launch of previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX is gearing a rocket for its second mission in the last three days. The goal is to launch a satellite into orbit, and you can watch it all live.

Falcon 9 booster.

The Falcon 9 booster to be launched on Wednesday made its maiden voyage on February, 2017, on a mission to resupply the ISS.
Image credits SpaceX.

After their last launch on Monday, performed at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, SpaceX is working on a follow-up mission, due Wednesday, Oct. 11 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The two-hour launch window will open at 6:53 ET, and the final goal is to send the EchoStar 105/SES-11, a communications satellite, to a geostationary transfer orbit.

I say ‘final goal’ because the highlight of Wednesday’s launch will be the re-usage of a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage booster. The rocket first flew on February 19th as part of a mission for NASA. It pushed a Dragon capsule laden with supplies up to the ISS and then landed along Florida’s coast. This will be the third occasion ever that Musk’s company launches a “flight proven” booster, a term they use to refer to previously-flown components.

The mission will serve Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES, a long-time customer of SpaceX. SES has shown a lot of confidence in the company’s ability to bring safe, reusable launch rockets to the market and has previously employed a previously-flow booster — back in the time when SpaceX’s ability in this field remained largely untested.

To date, SpaceX has landed Falcon 9 first stages on 17 separate occasions, the latest being Monday’s mission (Oct. 9th). If this third launch of a ‘flight proven’ booster proves successful, SpaceX will likely have a much easier time of finding customers for flight-proven rockets in the future.

It would also continue an impressive streak of launches and what’s shaping up to be a remarkably productive year for the company. SpaceX has carried out 14 flights this year so far, and if Wednesday’s mission is successful, it would allow the company to achieve its goal of 20 flights by the end of the year. That’s more than any other country or company in the world has managed this year, and it’s bound to make SpaceX’s competitors quite uneasy.

A webcast of the launch attempt is set to begin about 15 minutes before the launch window opens — I’ve embedded it below. After the first stage delivers the satellite into orbit, it will attempt to land on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You some 8 minutes and 33 seconds after launch. EchoStar 105/SES-11 is scheduled to be deployed into high transfer orbit some 36 minutes after launch.

Elon Musk warns that settling Mars will be harsh, even deadly for the first colonists

Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk plans to get the first humans to land on Mars by 2025, and is really excited about the prospect of establishing a colony there. Pioneering a new planet isn’t going to be a walk in the park, he warns. Colonists will face harsh conditions, isolation, even death.

Image via youtube

“It’s dangerous and probably people will die – and they’ll know that. And then they’ll pave the way, and ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will be very comfortable. But that will be many years in the future,” Musk told the Washington Post detailing his Mission to Mars.

Musk’s SpaceX is making history under our very eyes. The company has been at the forefront of space transportation for quite some time now, designing and building the first re-usable deep space rocket, the Falcon 9 (you can read all about the project’s ups and downs here.)

Musk received official approval from NASA to sent US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) starting from 2017, and currently has an ongoing US$2.6bn contract with NASA to routinely transport cargo to and from the ISS.

But the entrepreneur’s real goal is Mars. SpaceX plans to send regular unmanned spacecraft missions to the red planet starting 2018 to gather data about descending and landing on Mars for human missions in the future. The missions will take place every two years when Mars’ and Earth’s orbits bring the planets to their closest points.

“Essentially what we’re saying is we’re establishing a cargo route to Mars. It’s a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It’s going to happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station,” he said.

“And if scientists around the world know that they can count on that, and it’s going to be inexpensive, relatively speaking compared to anything in the past, then they will plan accordingly and come up with a lot of great experiments.”

The missions will also test if these autonomous crafts are safe enough for humans, the first manned missions will take place in 2025. But even at their closest, the two planets are still separated by 140 million miles of empty space, and it will take months for the ships to make the journey.

Musk admits the journey will likely be “hard, risky, dangerous, difficult” for the first pioneers who leave Earth. He points out however that they will be no different to the British who chose to travel across the sea to colonize the Americas in the 1600s.

“Just as with the establishment of the English colonies, there are people who love that,” he concluded

“They want to be the pioneers.”

spacex falcon9 video game

Is landing SpaceX’s Falcon 9 reusable rocket easy? Play this video game first

Last time SpaceX tried to land its reusable rocket – the first stage booster and fuel tank of the Falcon 9 – it missed the platform by a hair’s breath. It didn’t even explode this time – it just flipped over. Unfortunately, the damage caused the rocket to be beyond repair, and hence far from being reusable.

spacex falcon9 video game

There’s a lot at stake here. Once SpaceX masters reusable rockets, well… a whole new era of space exploration might be rapidly ushered. For one, Musk estimates launching meat (astronauts) or cargo would be 100 times cheaper than today. This could transform our planet for the better, and fast. While not everybody might be able to fly in space, a lot more people will. Launching on the cheap means that deploying a swarm of satellites that serve free internet anywhere on the planet is feasible. On the long run, it also frees up an immense amount of resources for more important missions: building a colony on Mars (something that Musk is heavily emotionally involved in) and landing astronauts on asteroids. This isn’t a pipeline dream. All of these could happen in the next couple of decades.

If, that is, SpaceX can manage to land that damn rocket safely on a platform in the middle of the ocean. Do think it’s that easy? Well, try it out yourself and you tell me. Personally, I have finally come close to the level of agony SpaceX engineers went through in their past launches. The only difference is I actually failed 147 times; yeah that and, well, one tiny detail: this is only an 8 bit video game. Whatever. I couldn’t land the drone ship once! Rage quit all the way…

Thanks to Verge for the tip.


Elon Musk SpaceX

SpaceX founder envisions 80,000 people colony on Mars

Elon Musk SpaceXA real life Peter-Weyland, SpaceX founder and self-made billionaire, Elon Musk, has stirred up controversy with his space exploration claims on a number of occasions, mostly because they’re considered rather “too ambitious”. A few months ago Musk suggested that in a mere few decades, his company will be offering $500,000 there and back trips to Mars. Recently, he unveiled a new side to his grander plan, after the entrepreneur announced that the eventual goal for SpaceX is that of settling a Martian colony with 80,000 people.

SpaceX reached some formidable milestones this past year alone, after it became the first private company to touch decks with the International Space Station when the un-manned Dragon capsule safely docked. Their progress is formidable, considering they’ve only been operational for a decade, still SpaceX has yet to make a manned flight and it is already making formidable claims for the future. Some would be quick to label these claims as follies, yet what brilliant milestone didn’t stand by the thread of madness? It’s  about pushing the limits, and Musk, who regularly logs in 100-tireless work hours a week, doesn’t like to set the bar low. At one of his recent talks at the  Royal Aeronautical Society, Musk said:

“At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big,” referring to a Martian colony.

According to Musk, at first a very small, but very well supplied, crew would touch base with Mars and begin raising an outpost. The team would install a transparent, pressurized dome with Martian CO2 where Earth crops in Martian soil could be grown. As the outpost grows, fewer supplies would be needed to be ferried away from Earth, meaning more people could be brought to Mars. Don’t ask me where he got this figures, but Musk claims that by the time Earth’s population reaches eight billion, perhaps one in 100,000 would be prepared to go to Mars – that’s 80,000 immigrants. An estimate cost for such a venture is valued by Musk at $36 billion, which he envisions as a partnership between private space assets and governmental space agencies. He arrived at that number by estimating that a colony that costs 0.25 percent or 0.5 percent of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) would be considered acceptable.

“Some money has to be spent on establishing a base on Mars. It’s about getting the basic fundamentals in place,” Musk said. “That was true of the English colonies [in the Americas]; it took a significant expense to get things started. But once there are regular Mars flights, you can get the cost down to half a million dollars for someone to move to Mars. Then I think there are enough people who would buy that to have it be a reasonable business case.”

The analogy isn’t that sound too me, however. We’ve yet to see the kind of technology that could safely, cheaply and surely take man to Mars, although recent observations of Curiosity that flagged the red planet as being radiation-safe for humans are very encouraging. Apparently, a reusable version of SpaceX falcon 9 rocket will be used, although matters are kept somewhat to SpaceX officials.

So what’s your take on Elon Musk’s ambitious goals?

With milestone launch, SpaceX wants to make space flight cheaper and easier

As we already told you, after the first launch attempt was stopped with just one second to go, SpaceX finally managed to send its Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS – and to the history books. But for NASA, this is not necessarily a good thing, because for the first time in history, instead of flying a ship, they retired to the back seat and just rented the flight.

Why did NASA go for this strategy?

Well, the old shuttles were old, expensive, and even unsafe, and so they decided to focus more on major missions, especially as they claim we will soon see competition and innovation which will drive down the cost of routine launches. Thus NASA can focus instead on developing future deep-space missions.

Also, the development of the Falcon 9 rocket was about 3 times cheaper than what NASA would have spent if they would have built the ship themselves – and even using a renting system, this saves them a lot of money. SpaceX rockets also require many fewer people to build, launch and operate than the shuttle did, and they build all the components on one site, which saves a lot of money as well.

How is the shuttle different from the previous ones?

Falcon 9 and the Dragon capsule are much smaller and can also carry less cargo, but with the construction of the ISS complete – that is just fine. While the current capsule is unmanned, SpaceX plans to soon upgrade it to carry as many as seven people on to orbit. If Dragon does dock with the station as planned, it will signal that SpaceX is ready to move from vehicle development to regular operations – which will carry anywhere from 5 to 7 years.

Putting the awesome back into space flight

When Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and chief architect got his second bachelor degree, he started PayPal, and then made millions selling it. In a fascinating move, he returned to school to finish his PhD, them invested all the money into SpaceX and Tesla (you might have heard of the Tesla Roadster, am I right?). When he called his friend to tell them he was building a a spaceship and that he would be naming it Falcon after the Millenium Falcon from Star Wars, they asked him what he was smoking – and thus, the name was born – Dragon, as in puff.

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Tuesday. This launch marks the first time, a private company sends its own rocket to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.(AP Photo/John Raoux) Photo: Ap/getty / SL

SpaceX finally launches for the ISS. Sparks new age for private spaceflight

The Private Company SpaceX launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and a unmanned Dragan capsule turns night into day during liftoff from a Cape Canaveral launch pad early Tuesday as it streaks over a model of NASA's space shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center, heading for a rendezvous with the International Space Station, opening a new era of dollar-driven spaceflight. (AP Photo/Florida Today, Craig Rubadoux)  Photo: Ap/getty / SL

The Private Company SpaceX launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and a unmanned Dragan capsule turns night into day during liftoff from a Cape Canaveral launch pad early Tuesday as it streaks over a model of NASA's space shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center, heading for a rendezvous with the International Space Station, opening a new era of dollar-driven spaceflight. (AP Photo/Florida Today, Craig Rubadoux) Photo: Ap/getty / SL

Last Saturday, after many meticulous preparatory stages and a couple of exasperating postponements, SpaceX was set to launch  its Falcon 9 rocket, along with its Dragon capsule filled with food, supplies and science experiments destined for the International Space Station. A faulty valve, however, signaled officials to abort the launch with just ONE second to go.

Years and years of research and preparation might have ended in a disaster, however it seems all these past precautions were for the best. Today, the Falcon 9 launched without a breeze from the launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX’s Elon Musk tweeted, “Dragon spaceship opens the navigation pod bay door without hesitation. So much nicer than HAL9000 #DragonLaunch.”

It marks the third launch of the Falcon 9 rocket; the second launch of the Dragon capsule, the first with components needed for space station docking; and one of 12 planned SpaceX flights to the International Space Station. Definitely today signals the beginning of a new era of spaceflight, one in which private companies are herald to dominate the sub-orbital space launch scene.

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Tuesday. This launch marks the first time, a private company sends its own rocket to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.(AP Photo/John Raoux) Photo: Ap/getty / SL

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Tuesday. This launch marks the first time, a private company sends its own rocket to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.(AP Photo/John Raoux) Photo: Ap/getty / SL

The SpaceX launch solutions are the most affordable cost/performance when compared with its current competitors. The reusable Dragon is also significantly cheaper than European, Russian or Chinese spacecrafts. The cargo version of the Dragon is very different from the manned version expected to begin launching humans to orbit in a few years.

Besides SpaceX, expect other companies to join sub-orbit launches carrying important cargo, and even astronauts, in the near future. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, ATK (Alliant Techsystems Inc.) which plans to use its Liberty rocket to launch humans into orbit by 2015 or Planetary Resources’ daring plan of traveling to an asteroid and mining it.

Soon, free of sub-orbital launch duties, NASA will finally be able to concentrate on high-load carrying propulsion solutions which might finally bring man back on the moon and, hopefully, on Mars.

SpaceX founder wants man to become a multi-planetary species

SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, in the Dragon capsule.

SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, in the Dragon capsule.

More than just a SciFi dream, Paypal founder and billionaire Elon Musk wants to make “man on Mars” a reality.

Speaking at a recent spaceflight propulsion conference held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics on Tuesday, Musk unveiled during his keynote how his company, SpaceX, plans on sending humanity to Mars in coming decades.

“Ultimately, the thing that is super important in the grand scale of history is—are we on a path to becoming a multi-planet species or not? If we’re not, that’s not a very bright future. We’ll just be hanging out on Earth until some eventual calamity claims us,” Musk said.

SpaceX has seen a rapid growth in the past decade, signing a number of commercial contracts with NASA and other big telecom companies for space cargo ferrying and sub-orbital satellite deployment. This December, the company will make its first trip to the International Space Station, possibly paving the way for a longer partnership now that NASA’s shuttle program has been retired. The company, however, has bigger plans in stores, like trips to the moon or Mars.

The task of sending significant cargo and people to Mars is arduous, both engineering-wise and financially.

“There’s a reason no one has invented a fully reusable rocket before,” Musk explained. “It’s super-damn hard.”

At the conference, Musk described several of the recent advances made by his company’s Falcon 9 rockets, which were tested successfully for the first time June 4, 2010. The rocket is designed to generate 3.8 million pounds (1,700 metric tons) of thrust – ideal for  carrying satellites, cargo, and even humans to other planets, he said.

Musk has his faith set on another project, however – the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in the world. The SpaceX rocket has been design to carry about 117,000 pounds (53,000 kilograms) of cargo to orbit, twice as roomy as NASA’s Space Shuttle, and is second in size only to the Apollo program’s mammoth Saturn V. The Flacon Heavy is expected to have its inaugural flight in 2012.

Falcon Heavy is capable of carring 12 to 15 metric tons, but “I think you’ll probably want a vehicle that can deliver something on the order of 50 metric tons … in a fully reusable manner,” said Musk. This means, that we’ll have to wait quite a while before a viable means of space transportation can be discussed. Currently, the Falcon Heavy has a launch cost per pound of $1,000; for a economically feasible round-back trip to Mars the cost would have to be cut under $100.

Musk believes that a single vehicle capable of flying to Mars and back will be available at some time, but if a Mars base would be implemented afterwards, it would change the game dramatically.

“As soon as you’ve got a base on Mars, you’ve got a ‘forcing function’ for improving the transportation capability,” he noted.

“Before the U.S. colonies were established, there was no forcing function for improving trips across the Atlantic. But when there was, there was a need to make those ships better and better,” Musk said

The SpaceX CEO has been repeatedly cited in the public press as intending on putting a man on Mars in the next 20 years. NASA is currently discussing with the company about the possibility of using its  Dragon capsule on an exploratory mission to Mars, a so-called “Red Dragon” mission. The Dragon capsule is designed to work in concert with the company’s multistage Falcon 9 rocket, either on short range resupply trips to the International Space Station or on longer range missions to other planets

This elleged Red Dragon mission might be ready to launch by 2018 and would come at the extremely cheap price tag of $400 million or less, which sounds very fairytaleish  to me.  Musk expects the effort to be a combination of private and government funding, though he said it’s hard to predict what percentage would come from the government.