A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):
[ Update: The launch was scrubbed due to thunderstorms in the area around the Cape. Another attempt will be made this Saturday, July 11th during a window between 10:49 am to 11:00 am EDT. Currently, the forecast shows a 60% chance of acceptable conditions for liftoff during the window.
- Live coverage: SpaceX scrubs midday launch from Kennedy Space Center – Spaceflight Now
- Weather scrubs Wednesday’s Starlink launch attempt [Updated] | Ars Technica
** Delayed Starlink-9 mission now set for liftoff on Wednesday at 11:59 am EDT (1559 GMT) from Pad 39A at Cape Kennedy Space Center. The Falcon 9’s launch date was postponed several times in June and then moved till after the launch of a USAF GPS satellite. The rocket will carry 57 Starlink broadband Internet satellites and 2 BlackSky earth imaging satellites into polar orbit.
- SpaceX – Mission info and webcast
- [Update: SpaceX’s next batch of Starlink satellites back on the launch pad – Spaceflight Now]
- Chris G – NSF 📎: “🔴LIVE from Pad 39A, an update on tomorrow’s pending launch of another round of Starlinks with two Blacksky satellites on a ride-share mission. #SpaceX #Starlink @BlackSky_Inc ”
- Weather looks good for SpaceX’s next launch from Kennedy Space Center – Florida Today
Four Falcon 9 launches could happen this month. Here are the three other missions with their no-earlier-than dates:
- July 14: KMilSatCom 1 for the South Korean Military.
- July 25: SAOCOM 1B for Argentina [Update: Argentine team returns to Florida to prep radar satellite for late July launch – Spaceflight Now]
- Late July: Starlink 10 plus Planet’s SkySats 19-21
Find more about other SpaceX activities below.
** Rocket Lab Electron mission fails due to upper stage issue. This was the 13th launch of the Electron rocket, which also failed on its first test launch due to a communications problem in a ground system. Rocket Lab Mission Fails to Reach Orbit | Rocket Lab.
An issue was experienced today during Rocket Lab’s launch that caused the loss of the vehicle. We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron. The issue occurred late in the flight during the 2nd stage burn. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) July 4, 2020
Scott Manley gives his view on the failure:
- Rocket Lab Electron launch fails – SpaceNews
- Rocket Lab Electron Rocket Fails Carrying Five SuperDoves – Planet
- In-Space sets sights on next phase of Faraday programme after devastating loss of Faraday-1 satellite
- Rocket Lab satellite launch fails before reaching orbit – Spaceflight Now
** China launches two rockets within three days. The first rocket was a Long March 4B rocket launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Lunch Center in northern China on July 2nd with a Gaofen remote sensing satellite as the primary payload. Also on board was the Xibaipo (BY 70-2) CubeSat, intended for science and education related tasks.
The second rocket was a Long March 2D that lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert carrying the Shiyan-6 satellite on July 5th. The Shiyan-6 is described as a remote sensing technology development system but is believed by analysts outside of China as a military reconnaissance satellite.
- China launches Shiyan-6 and Gaofen remote sensing satellites with two launches in three days – SpaceNews
- Long March 4B lofts new Gaofen satellite – NASASpaceFlight.com
- China launches [Shiyan-6] satellite for space environment study – Xinhua
- China launches [Gaofen] observation satellite with homegrown imager – Chinadaily.com.cn
** Israel launched a reconnaissance satellite into orbit with a Shavit rocket. As with previous Israeli satellites, the rocket launched the Ofek 16 satellite towards the west over the Mediterranean Sea and into a retrograde orbit.
- Israel’s Ministry of Defense, IAI Launch Ofek-16 Satellite into Orbit | Israel Defense
- Ofek 16 Spy Satellite Launched from Israel, ‘Allows Us to Look Anywhere in the Middle East’ – The Jewish Press
- Israel successfully places surveillance satellite into orbit – Spaceflight Now
- Israel launches spy satellite on its own rocket – Orlando Sentinel
** Virgin Galactic to show SpaceShipTwo interior design on July 28th: Virgin Galactic Announces Date for World’s First Virtual Reveal of Spaceship Cabin Design – Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic today [July.2.2020] announced that SpaceShipTwo’s cabin interior design reveal will take place on July 28, 2020. The virtual event will be streamed live on YouTube. In celebration of this milestone, the Company will also be announcing plans to bring immersive experiences of Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight and cabin interior to aspiring astronauts around the world.
The unveiling of the spaceship cabin design marks the latest milestone towards Virgin Galactic’s operational readiness and will accentuate the Company’s focus on using inspired and bold design to transform the entire customer journey. While the cabin interior has been created to integrate seamlessly with every step of that journey, it is also the design centerpiece, providing safety without distraction, quietly absorbing periods of sensory intensity and offering each astronaut a level of intimacy required for personal discovery and transformation.
The live-streamed unveiling will feature a virtual walkthrough of the cabin, curated by the multi-disciplinary team which has striven to ensure that every detail of its design works to provide an unparalleled and safe consumer experience.
** NASA and Boeing give update on Starliner crew vehicle and uncrewed test flight: NASA and Boeing Complete Orbital Flight Test Reviews | NASA
NASA and Boeing have completed major reviews of the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December 2019 and are continuing with preparations to refly the test, designated Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
“NASA and Boeing have completed a tremendous amount of work reviewing the issues experienced during the uncrewed flight test of Starliner,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator at NASA. “Ultimately, everything we’ve found will help us improve as we move forward in the development and testing of Starliner, and in our future work with commercial industry as a whole.”
The joint NASA-Boeing Independent Review team completed the final assessment into the intermittent space-to-ground communication issue detected during the first uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. The review team previously completed its investigation into the two other primary anomalies experienced during the test.
No date has been set yet for liftoff of the OFT-2 mission.
- It’s (small) rocket science, after all – The Space Review
- ISEC Newsletter – July 2020 – Int. Space Elevator Consortium
- European Space Elevator Challenge
- China eyes July 20-25 launch for Mars rover – CNA
- Industrial partnership between Venture Orbital Systems and ESTACA – VOS (pdf)
- Commercial launch industry off to slow start in 2020 – SpaceNews
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Riding a Dragon, Rockets Rising, Space Resource Policy
Vol. 15, No. 4, June 14, 2020
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** The Falcon 9 booster for the recent USAF GPS III satellite launch has returned to Cape Canaveral : SpaceX adds fresh Falcon 9 booster to the fleet after drone ship recovery – Teslarati
SpaceX has added a second new Falcon 9 booster to its rocket fleet in just one month after B1060 safely returned to shore aboard drone ship Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) on July 4th.
Exactly 31 days prior, Falcon 9 booster B1058 sailed into Port Canaveral aboard drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) on June 3rd after becoming the first private rocket in history to launch astronauts into orbit. Prior to B1058’s successful May 30th launch and landing debut, SpaceX’s fleet of available flightworthy boosters appeared to be just three strong, comprised of B1049, B1051, and B1059. Supposedly (relatively) easy to reconfigure into regular Falcon 9 boosters, twice-flown Falcon Heavy side boosters B1052 and B1053 remain wildcards that seem unlikely to re-enter circulation anytime soon.
In other words, SpaceX has grown its fleet of flight-proven Falcon 9 boosters by almost 70% in a single month, undoubtedly bringing with it some welcome sighs of relief for the second half of the company’s 2020 launch manifest. Given just how ambitious SpaceX’s plans are for the next six months, both boosters are set to be invaluable assets in the near term.
A view of the landing of this booster:
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 6, 2020
After the SN5 Starship prototype passed its cryogenic pressure tests last week, work continued this week on the launch platform and on installation of a Raptor engine. It had once been expected that SN5 would get 3 engines. However, it appears that SN5 will do the one engine powered test hop that was previously planned for the SN4 prototype. Before it had a chance to fly, SN4 was destroyed by a huge explosion from the ignition of methane that poured out when a quick-release attachment at the base of the vehicle failed following an engine test firing.
According to the current road closure schedule, the earliest we’ll see engine test firings for the SN5 is Friday July 10th.
A huge “high bay” building is now under construction. It will be used for assembly of Super Heavy Booster prototypes. An awesome “Bluezilla” crane was assembled over the last week and it has begun lifting structural sections into place.: SpaceX Super Heavy ‘high bay’ construction begins in South Texas – Teslarati.
Bluezilla crane and its little helper at the Boca Chica Space X Build Site.@elonmusk
. #SpaceX #RGV #STARSHIP #Bocachica https://t.co/dGpvgoDEmt for the full online gallery 07/06 pic.twitter.com/ULhogKGNiC
— RGVAerialPhotography (@RGVaerialphotos) July 7, 2020
Before SpaceX can launch a massive and super noisy Super Heavy, it will need to update the company’s FAA environmental review and license for the Boca Chica facility: SpaceX facility under FAA review after changing rocket tests in South Texas – BorderReport.com
Border Report was told the FAA had not approved significant plans that SpaceX has for the facility since the company told the agency it had switched projects and is now using this facility to develop a new, massive spacecraft to travel to Mars, called the Starship. The FAA also said it has begun a new environmental review of the company’s new plans.
“The current testing falls within the current EIS. However, a full-scale Starship launch site falls outside the scope of the 2014 EIS. The FAA is in the early stages of an environmental review. Any proposal must meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the FAA’s policies and procedures for conducting a NEPA review,” an FAA official wrote in an email to Border Report on Friday.
****** Boca Chica flyovers posted today by RGV Aerial Photography:
****** July 2: SpaceX Boca Chica – Bluezilla Rises! Super Heavy High Bay Builder – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
The biggest crane to arrive at Boca Chica – which is some achievement based on previous big cranes – came to life on Thursday. “Bluezilla” will help build the new Super Heavy High Bay. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
****** July 3: SpaceX Boca Chica – Raptor SN27 set for Starship SN5 Installation – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
Raptor engine SN27 has arrived for installation into Starship SN5 for the latest test campaign. Meanwhile, work continues on the Super Heavy pad and the Nosecones are multiplying. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Brady Kenniston (@TheFavoritis
****** July 4: SpaceX Boca Chica – SN27 Raptor Installed – Mystery Dome in work – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
Starship SN5 now has her SN27 Raptor installed while work goes on around SpaceX Boca Chica, include the sighting of a mystery dome for a test tank or future Starship. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Brady Kenniston (@TheFavoritist)
****** July 5: SpaceX Boca Chica – Bluezilla Stretches Its Limbs – Boca Drive Past – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
In today’s Starship update: the Manitowoc Model 18000 Crane (AKA Bluezilla) stretches its limbs, the Mystery Dome sees some progress, work on SN5 with Raptor 27 installed continues ahead of engine testing, and Mary treats us all to a Sunday drive past Boca Chica for a checkup on the entire site. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
****** July 6: SpaceX Boca Chica – Build Site Bonanza – SN5 Nearly Ready – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
It’s a Build Site bonanza in today’s Boca Chica Update. A new ring was moved into the fabrication tents, the Manitowoc 18000 crane started off its work on the site with some light lifting, some interesting parts were delivered and work on SN5 and Raptor SN27 continued. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
** Webcast rocket reports:
**** Starship updates with SN5 Pressure Test, SpaceX GPS III, Mars Perseverance Rover Launch Date Slips – Marcus House
Yet again, another huge week of space news. We have some Starship updates with the SN5 Pressure Test, SpaceX GPS III mission went off perfectly, but the Mars Perseverance Rover Launch Date Slips close to the end of the Mars launch window. The starship SN5 has been pressured up this week with liquid nitrogen getting ready for a static fire test quite soon we hope. We’ve got a bunch of news and updates around the development of the Space Launch System, SpaceX had another incredible launch with the GPS III mission during the week. Flawless yet again. A few updates on the Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission to share and also we have our fingers crossed that the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission will get across the line before the end of the launch window to Mars after yet another delay in the schedule.
**** What’s hiding in SpaceX’s Starship? + SpaceX Starship – Why are they building it in a scrap yard? – What about it!?
** Mars Mission Update: June 2020 – Martian Colonist
The successful Commercial Crew launch by SpaceX and NASA has forever changed spaceflight. Now, for the first time, there is a clear path to sending humans to Mars. Aspiring Martian Colonist Dr. Ryan MacDonald charts the course towards the first human missions to the Red Planet.
=== The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey ===