NSSL, LSA, OMG! Last week, SpaceX filed a lawsuit against the US Air Force over the Launch Service Agreement development contracts. We’re mere months away from bids being due for the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 launch contracts, so I figured now would be a good time to take a step back to explain what these programs are, why they matter, and why SpaceX is filing this lawsuit at this moment in time.
This year’s Humans to Mars Summit in Washington D.C., once again ended with a panel of Martian all-stars talking about their hopes for a future that includes the Red Planet. Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan leads the inspiring and entertaining discussion. Emily Lakdawalla shows us the beautiful, sunlit clouds of Mars, while this week’s What’s Up segment gives Mat the job of singing the answer to our latest space trivia quiz.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner propulsion system was put to the test on Thursday at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico in support of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Teams ran multiple tests on Starliner’s in-space maneuvering system and the spacecraft’s launch abort system, which are key elements on the path to restore America’s capability to fly astronauts to the International Space Station on American rockets and spacecraft from U.S. soil.
The test used a flight-like Starliner service module with a full propulsion system comprising of fuel and helium tanks, reaction control system and orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters, launch abort engines and all necessary fuel lines and avionics.
ESA has recently completed hot-firing tests that prove technologies in a move towards ‘intelligent’ engines to power the upper stages of next-generation launchers.
The Expander-cycle Technology Integrated Demonstrator, or ETID, is a full-scale integrated demonstrator for an upper-stage rocket engine.
Yesterday ESA, industrial partners and representatives of participating Member States met at DLR Lampoldshausen, Germany, to review the results of ETID’s extremely successful nine-month test campaign on the P3.2 test bench.
In total, four configurations of ETID with three new combustion chamber geometries and designs were tested.
Two different injector heads, including a fully 3D-printed version were also tested, as well
** Virgin Orbitflies a fully fueled LauncherOne rocket beneath their 747 carrier:
Our pilots and launch engineers are all smiles after another successful test flight, this one with a fully-loaded #LauncherOne rocket under the wing of our ‘flying launch pad.’ Here’s a taste of the beautiful views today in the skies above @MojaveAirportpic.twitter.com/esNkpyOb0l
*** The video of the deployment of the Starlink sats showed them slowly separating in clumps rather than scattering individually like dandelion seeds, which I think many viewers had expected. Here is an animation showing what was actually happening.
*** The brightness of the Starlinks set off a Twitter ado over what impact 1200 to 15000 such satellites will have on astronomy:
More than a month after a Crew Dragon spacecraft was destroyed in a test of its propulsion system, NASA and SpaceX investigators are still working to determine the cause of the accident and its implications for upcoming test flights.
In a May 28 presentation to the NASA Advisory Council’s human exploration and operations committee, Kathy Lueders, manager of the commercial crew program at NASA, offered few updates on the progress of the investigation into the April 20 incident at a SpaceX pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
In that incident, SpaceX was testing both the Draco thrusters and larger SuperDraco abort thrusters in preparation for an in-flight abort test of the capsule that, at the time, was scheduled for the end of June. “An anomaly occurred during activation of the SuperDraco system,” she said, but offered no details on what caused that anomaly.
*** Work on the Starhopper and Starship orbital demonstrator vehicles at Boca Chica Beach, Texas and Cocoa, Florida appears to be making good progress. Observers are on the lookout at Boca Chica for the arrival of the Raptor engine that will power the Starhopper’s low altitude flights, the first of which is currently set for Monday of next week.
It appears that SpaceX is preparing a dedicated website for its proposed Starship point-to-point transport system, potentially capable of transporting dozens of passengers anywhere on Earth in just 30-60 minutes.
Assuming this website is actually a prelude to a SpaceX reveal (it could be completely unrelated), it seems likely that Starship.com will go live sometime around CEO Elon Musk’s planned June 20th update on Starship and Super Heavy. Much like Starlink.com went live on the day of SpaceX’s first dedicated launch, the company may be ready to tease more substantial details and fleshed-out plans for its aspirational Starship airline.
3. Wednesday, Wednesday, May 29 2019: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.
4. Friday, May 31, 2019; 9:30-11 am PDT (11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): We welcome Dr. Greg Matloff and C. Bangs, authors of the award winning book, Stellar Engineering, which looks at the possibilities of advanced civilizations building enormous structures in space.
5. Sunday, June 2, 2019; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): We welcome Gideon Marcus of Galactic Journeys. This program will be a walk through space history and time like none other.