Space transport roundup – Nov.5.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):

** SpaceX Falcon 9 set for static firing test on the pad at Cape Canaveral. This is in preparation for a launch of Starlink satellites on Nov. 11th.

[ Update: The static firing test took place successfully. The Falcon 9 nosecone will include the first fairing to be reused.

See also: SpaceX finally fires up Falcon 9 ahead of Starlink mission –

A video of the firing:


See also: SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 launch in months gets a launch date- Teslarati.

More SpaceX items below.

** Boeing Starliner blasted off on Monday in a pad abort test and made a soft landing though only 2 of the 3 parachutes deployed properly:


During the test, Starliner’s four launch abort engines, and several orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters simultaneously ignited to rapidly push the spacecraft away from the test stand. Five seconds into flight, the abort engines shut off as planned, transferring steering to the control thrusters for the next five seconds.

A pitcharound maneuver rotated the spacecraft into position for landing as it neared its peak altitude of approximately 4,500 feet. Two of three Starliner’s main parachutes deployed just under half a minute into the test, and the service module separated from the crew module a few seconds later. Although designed with three parachutes, two opening successfully is acceptable for the test parameters and crew safety. After one minute, the heat shield was released and airbags inflated, and the Starliner eased to the ground beneath its parachutes.

The demonstration took only about 95 seconds from the moment the simulated abort was initiated until the Starliner crew module touched down on the desert ground.

“Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner’s four launch abort engines and several orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters ignite in the company’s Pad Abort Test, pushing the spacecraft away from the test stand with a combined 160,000 pounds of thrust, from Launch Complex 32 on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The test, conducted Nov. 4, 2019, was designed to verify that each of Starliner’s systems will function not only separately, but in concert, to protect astronauts by carrying them safely away from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency prior to liftoff. The Pad Abort Test is Boeing’s first test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil for the first time since 2011.” – NASA

Here is the webcast of the test. Liftoff happens at around 24:55 into the video.

Scott Manley comments on the test:

** Northrop Grumman Cygnus arrives at the ISS after traveling in space for two days since its launch on an Antares rocket on Saturday.

** Chinese Long March 4B launches remote sensing satellite on Sunday:

** And a Long March 3B launched a Beidou navigation satellite on Monday:

** Report on EXOS Aerospace suborbital launch: Unsuccessful Attempt in the Desert … EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies Fourth Launch of a Reusable Vehicle- Satnews

Unfortunately a reusable suborbital sounding rocket launched by EXOS Aerospace malfunctioned shortly after liftoff causing the vehicle to crash back to Earth minutes later. Even though today’s attempt was unsuccessful this EXOS flight was the third time a suborbital-class rocket stage has been reused for a fourth time.

The launch took place at the Spaceport America. Spaceport America which is an FAA-licensed spaceport located on 18,000 acres of State Trust Land in the Jornada del Muerto desert basin in New Mexico, directly west and adjacent to U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range. It lies 89 miles north of El Paso, 45 miles north of Las Cruces, and 20 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences.

** Video: Review of reusable rocket engines with Matt Richardson of Univ. of

We’re joined by Dr Matt Richardson of U Tokyo/JAXA to talk reusable rocket engines. Matt recently graduated with a PhD in aerospace engineering where he tested ways to extend the lifetime and reduce refurbishment costs of liquid-fueled rocket engines.

** SpaceX;

*** Starlink early deployment: What to expect from SpaceX Starlink broadband service next year and beyond – CIS 471

… it sounds like SpaceX is serious about pursuing the consumer market from the start. When asked about price recently, Shotwell said millions of people in the U. S. pay $80 per month to get “crappy service.” She did not commit to a price, but homes, schools, community centers, etc. with crappy service would pay that for good service, not to mention those with no service. Some customers may pay around $80 per month, but the price at a given location will be a function of SpaceX capacity, the price/demand curve for Intenet service and competition from terrestrial and other satellite service providers, so prices will vary within the U. S. and globally. In nations where Starlink service is sold by partner Internet service providers, they will share in pricing decisions.

Since the marginal cost of serving a customer is near zero as long as there is sufficient capacity, we can expect lower prices in a poor, sparsely-populated region than in an affluent, densely-populated region. Dynamic pricing is also a possibility since SpaceX will have real-time demand data for every location. “Dynamic pricing of a zero marginal cost, variable-demand service” sounds like a good thesis topic. It will be interesting to see their pricing policy.

National governments will also have a say on pricing and service. While the U. S. will allow SpaceX to serve customers directly, other nations may require that they sell through Internet service providers and some — maybe Russia — may ban Starlink service altogether.

*** SpaceX ramps up rate of Crew Dragon parachute tests: SpaceX says Crew Dragon parachute upgrade nailed more than a dozen tests in a row – Teslarati. These included single parachute tests. Elon notes that they need to do 9 more multi-chute tests of the Mk3 design:

*** Demo Starship Mk.1 coming back together. For Elon Musk’s presentation back in September, the top nosecone and lower propulsion module were stacked atop each other and each had their respective “wings” (to provide drag during reentry, not for flying) attached.  After the presentation, the two parts were de-stacked and the wing sections removed. Outfitting of the Starship modules with fuel line, wiring, misc. sub-systems, etc. then proceeded. Last week the propulsion module was moved to the launch site, presumably to prepare for static engine tests. The wing sections, or canards, are now being added back to the nosecone. SpaceX installs Starship Mk1 rocket’s flaps for the second time in build-up to flight debut – Teslarati

*** SpaceX and the Brownsville community: SpaceX connects Brownsville to a new world of space enthusiasts –

*** Starship launch pad at KSC under construction:

*** Starships will eventually operate from offshore launch facilities.

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