Progress and sad news on the frontier of private space exploration:
6/9 – Washington Post – SpaceX founder files with government to provide Internet service in space – Concept is a swarm of 4,000 satellites in low orbit providing hi-speed internet connection available anywhere on the planet. Guess at Behind the Black is these will be cubesats launched anytime SpaceX sends up a Falcon 9. Tucking a bunch of cubesats in whatever nooks and crannies are left over with the paying load will make it cheap to put up 4,000 satellites. Current application is to put up some test satellites.
6/25 – SpaceX – The Why and How of Landing Rockets – Description of how to land a recoverable first stage of the Falcon 9. The why is that the first stage costs as much as a jumbo jet. When the first stage is routinely reused, the cost of launch a payload will shrink.
Their third attempt to recover a first stage failed;
6/28 – BBC – Unmanned SpaceX rocket explodes after Florida launch and Space.com – SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Cargo Launch to Space Station – A Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon capsule carrying about 4,000 pounds of supplies to the ISS exploded less than 2 minutes after takeoff. Occurring before 1st stage separation, the entire vehicle was destroyed.
There were 18 successful launches before this failure.
This makes three different launch vendors that have had a failed launch in the last nine months.