A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):
[ Update Jan.4.2019 #2: SpaceX confirms the static test went well and they are on track for Monday’s launch:
Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched a Starlink mission, the Iridium-8 mission, and the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission pic.twitter.com/QdailzdG4o
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 4, 2020
Update Jan.4.2019: The Falcon 9 with the Starlink 2 satellites was rolled to the SLC-40 pad this morning and they soon complected the static firing test: Live coverage: Falcon 9 test-fired at Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now. More about the mission in the SpaceX section below.
F9/Starlink: Hot fire complete at LC-40 at 12pm EST; appeared normal; will now stand by for an update from SpaceX regarding planned Monday morning Starlink launch pic.twitter.com/ctjKZ527f1
— William Harwood (@cbs_spacenews) January 4, 2020
Here’s also another SpaceX item about a mobile gantry addition to the Pad 37A facility to enable vertical installation of military satellites: SpaceX drawing up plans for mobile gantry at launch pad 39A – Spaceflight Now.
** Counting the number of launches in 2019 and estimating the number in 2020:
- China and the United States will compete for launch supremacy in 2020 | Ars Technica
- Long March, Soyuz and Falcon rockets topped 2019’s launch leaderboard – Spaceflight Now
- China’s space contractor plans more than 40 launches in 2020 – SpaceNews.com
- Consolidated launch schedule – Forum at NASASpaceFlight.com
** Everyday Astronaut Tim Dodd selects his “Best Spaceflight & Space Science Events of the Year“:
Welcome to the 2019 Astro Awards!!! A time where we reflect on all the exciting things that happened throughout the year in spaceflight and space discoveries. Now of course, these are nothing official… for now… , just a time to look back on the awesome science, discoveries, engineering and achievements made in the past year. We took polls here on YouTube, Twitter and Reddit for your favorite missions and now we get to soak them all in! We do put these in an order and I put the most weight on how you voted in the polls, BUT at the end of the day, I get final say on what goes where because I said so 😉
Check out the Firefly Alpha engine bay! There are 4 Reaver engines on the first stage which generate 165,500 lbf of thrust, allowing Alpha to deliver 1,000 kg of payload to low LEO and 630 kg to 500 km SSO. #Firefly #MakingSpaceForEveryone #FullAttack! pic.twitter.com/QbR8ykWxTT
— Firefly Aerospace (@Firefly_Space) January 3, 2020
** More about the upcoming first flight of Virgin Orbit‘s LauncherOne rocket: Virgin Orbit plans orbital launch in early 2020 – SpaceNews.com
After falling short of plans to begin launches in 2019, Virgin Orbit now expects to perform its first orbital launch attempt in early 2020, a key year for the burgeoning small launch vehicle industry.
In a Dec. 19 statement, Virgin Orbit says it is now in position to perform an “imminent orbital demo flight” some time in early 2020 as it completes rehearsals of launch preparations at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
With our flying launch site all buttoned up and a factory full of flight hardware for half a dozen rockets, the Virgin Orbit team is ready to hit the ground running in 2020. https://t.co/WhMfAjrSB5 pic.twitter.com/PHm7BRGTfK
— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) December 30, 2019
** The fifth launch of an Interstellar Technologies suborbital MOMO rocket in Japan has been postponed to deal with an avionics issue. Doesn’t appear that a new target liftoff date has been announced yet.
**** A Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 6th with the Starlink-2 batch of 60 operational broadband Internet satellites. Liftoff is set for 9:19 pm EST (0219 GMT Tuesday) from Cape Canaveral. Likely that the on-pad test firing will be with the satellites on the rocket and the rocket will stay on the pad rather than roll back to the hanger. This will be another step in speeding up launch rates.
- Good weather predicted for Cape Canaveral’s first launch of 2020 – Spaceflight Now
- SpaceX rings in the New Year with preparations for first Falcon 9 launch of 2020 – Teslarati
- SpaceX drone ship dodges high seas en route to first rocket landing of 2020 – Teslarati
SpaceX Starlink status Jan 3, 6 PM: The #SpaceX #Falcon9 is now raised at sunset at #pad40 for 3rd @SpaceX #Starlink batch of 60 sats. Static fire test this weekend ahead of launch NET Jan 6, 919 PM ET pic.twitter.com/ecUAG61pkT
— Ken Kremer (@ken_kremer) January 3, 2020
**** Should be a busy year for SpaceX rockets:
- This may be a transcendent year for SpaceX | Ars Technica
- SpaceX’s busiest month of launches ever is just around the corner – Teslarati
- SpaceX set for record-breaking 2020 manifest – NASASpaceFlight.com
- SpaceX’s 2020 ambitions tempered by 2019 outcomes – SpaceNews.com
**** The in-flight abort (IFA) test of the Crew Dragon is currently set for no earlier than January 11th. Here’s an explanation of the test:
Find updates on the test at
- Commercial Crew Program – NASA blog
- SpaceX F9 : Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort Test : NET Jan. 11, 2020 : Updates – NASASpaceflight.com
** Time-lapse satellite imagery showing construction underway at SpaceX’s facilities in Florida and Texas and Blue Origin’s facilities in Florida:
An excellent collection of timelapse satellite views of the new Blue Origin and SpaceX facilities for their next-generation rockets, New Glenn, Starship and Super Heavy Collated by Harry Stranger (@HarryStrangerPG) for NSF. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data processed by Sentinel Hub. The satellite provider is Copernicus via ESA and the satellites are Sentinel-2A & Sentinel-2B.
**** Views of Boca Chica
[ Update: This video was uploaded soon after this item was posted:
****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Starship SN1 Dome Lift – MK1 remains farewell – NASASpaceflight.com
At SpaceX’s Boca Chica site, the impressive new dome (bulkhead) for Starship SN1 was lifted towards the windbreak, while work continues around the site and the Mk1 remains departed the area. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF. Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer)
****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Preparing the Starship SN1 Launch Site – NASASpaceflight.com
While work continues on multiple Starship bulkheads (domes), preparations around the launch site have picked up again ahead of SN1’s arrival. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF. Video is muted when wind noise becomes too annoying.
****** Remembering StarPopper – Timelapse of SpaceX Starship Mk1 – NASASpaceflight.com
Remembering Starship Mk1 at Boca Chica. Was to fly 20km, but popped her bulkhead during a pressurization test. Some believe the design of Mk1 (and Mk2) was already deemed as below requirements so the pressurization test was pushed to extremes to gain some data before scrapping the vehicle. The refined design of Starship SN1 (Mk3) is now being constructed. Timelapse of footage from Mary (@bocahicagal) for NSF with a few clips from SpaceX’s presentation event, edited by Jay DeShetler.
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