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Archive for the tag “private space exploration”

50th successful recovery of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster

Starlink Mission on 1/6/20 by Official SpaceX Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  – A carefully observation will show the payload fairing reveals this not a Dragon capsule, but the photo provides a superb nighttime view.

Overnight SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 booster with fully loaded Dragon capsule on a Commercial Resupply Service mission (CRS-20), lifting supplies to the International Space Station.

This specific capsule already has been to ISS twice. This will make its third trip up and third recovery.

Successful recovery of this specific Falcon 9 booster back at Cape Canaveral marked the 50th time that SpaceX has recovered a booster. Astounding.

This launch was at 10 minutes before midnight, resulting in quite different visuals than a daytime launch. You can watch the launch, recovery of the booster, deployment of the capsule, and deployment of the solar panels here:

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Two successful space launches in three days by SpaceX and Northrup Grumman

Starlink Mission on 1/29/20) by Official SpaceX Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  – 2

Two launches in three days. Behind the Black provides a tally that year-to-date launches are 6 for US companies, 3 for China, and 1 each for Arianespace, Russia, and Japan.

SpaceX launch of Dragon lifting 60 communication satellites

Watched the recorded video of SpaceX’s launch of 60 more Starlink satellites from this morning. This is the fifth launch in the Starlink mission. After the fourth launch there were 182 sat, with 2 on first launch and 60 on each followup launch. Sixty  more on this launch brings the total in orbit to 242 by my count. Eventually the Starlink constellation will have 1,584 sats at a 341 mile altitude.

Video of the launch:

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SpaceX launches another 60 Starlink satellites.

SpaceX boosted another 60 satellites into orbit this morning. These will be part of its Starlink system providing high speed internet access to any point on the planet.

Video link to replay of launch is at end of this post.

This is the fourth launch for the Starlink project and increases the sat count to 182. The first launch was a test with only 2 satellites. The other three launches, including the one today, each carried 60.

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SpaceX launches 60 more satellites for their Starlink system

Starlink Mission on 11/11/19 by Official SpaceX Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

SpaceX is one of the companies working to get a constellation of sattelites in low-earth orbit which can provide high speed internet access across the planet. Tonight they launched 60 more sats into orbit, bringing their total to about 180.

The video on the launch was incredible. Amazing view from the ground, all the way to main engine cutoff at 50 kilometers altitude.

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Just another routine space launch and recovery of the booster. What a delight to ponder recollections of the Apollo 11 mission along with another SpaceX mission.

Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule lift off on CRS-18 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Just a few days ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. What an astounding accomplishment and what a joy to remember. Take a look at the grainy views of the launch and walk on the moon mentioned in immediately previous post.

Check out the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission yesterday, 7/25/19. CRS-18 carried about 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station. In four weeks about 3,300 pounds of cargo will be returned to earth.

The mission press release says this is the third time this Dragon capsule has flown, which is a new record for reuse.  This is the second time this particular Falcon 9 booster has flown. The booster was successfully recovered.

The announcer on the broadcast said this is the 44th successfully recovery of a booster.

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More cool pictures of the successfully Falcon Heavy test

Image in public domain, courtesy of SpaceX

Here are a few more pix of the successful test of SpaceX’s brand new Falcon Heavy and its payload.

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Sounds from the Falcon Heavy launch

Behind the Black points us to a report of What the Falcon Heavy launch sounded like.

What a treat it must have been to watch from miles away.

Using special stereo mikes, the recording catches the clicks of many nearby cameras before being overwhelmed by the rocket sounds.

Listen carefully for the multiple sonic booms from the boosters returning to earth. Each booster gives off a boom from the engines, then the landing legs, and then the directional control arms. So 6 booms expected. Sound track wave form shows echos, but one overlapped, so there were 5 booms from each booster.

Astounding, all the way around.

Also Behind the Black provided Update on Falcon Heavy core stage landing failure.  Turns out that two of the three engines scheduled to fire, slowing the descent, did not do so. Core booster missed the landing barge by around 300 feet.

BtB says this is why one runs experiments. Find out what doesn’t work, figure out the reason, and fix it.

Successful test of Falcon Heavy

Image in public domain, courtesy of SpaceX

SpaceX’s test of their three booster, 27 engine rocket was an astounding success. The three side-by-side Falcon 9 boosters worked perfectly together. The two side boosters successfully separated, which I think is the highlight of the test.

Both of the side boosters were recovered. See astounding photo above.

Image in public domain, courtesy of SpaceX

The payload was successfully lifted into the Van Allen radiation belt and continued to operate. Apparently that is a major milestone (my little brain doesn’t understand why that was a tremendous deal to NASA).

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Update on Chinese space vehicles

Saturn V rocket, loaded for the moon. China is developing the Long March 9 which will have comparable lift capacity. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few fun articles on the Chinese space program.

10/15/17 – Behind the Black – China’s first test space station, Tiangong-1, is out-of-control – The Chinese space agency said they have lost control over the “Heavenly Palace” space station. Its orbit is decaying and it will likely reenter the atmosphere and burn up in the next several months. Most of the station will burn, but there will likely be chunks as large as 200 pounds hit the ground.

(Hat tip to Behind the Black for the next two articles.)

10/18/17 – GB Times – China’s Tiangong-1 space lab will soon reenter the atmosphere, but there’s no need to panic – Disclosed reason for the “Heavenly Place” space lab not being able to maintain orbit is a battery charger failed, thus meaning the batteries couldn’t be charged.

Current guess is perhaps the last half of January for reentry into atmosphere, where most of the 8.4 ton spaceship will burn up.

10/17/17 – GB Times – China progressing with work on new medium, heavy, and super-heavy Long March launch vehicles – Articles says China is working on several new rocket designs.

New models include the Long March 8 and Long March 9.  Some stats:

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More news on SpaceX

Echostar 105/SES-11 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

One article pondering how the planned super-heavy lift rocket from SpaceX will open up space travel like the DC-3 did for air travel. The third reuse of a Falcon 9 booster and the 18th recovery of a booster.  Also, three articles on SpaceX’s plans for Mars colonization:

In a major speech, Mr. Musk revealed the revised plans for SpaceX’s journey to Mars. The revision I see is a slightly scaled-down interplanetary spacecraft which can be multipurposed for lunar activity, resupplying ISS, or any other mission requiring heavy lift.

The vehicle will have 31 engines instead of the 47 planned a year ago. It will still lift 150 tons into low earth orbit.

Key concepts will be reusability of lift vehicles and in-orbit refueling to get vehicles ready for the interplanetary trip. Concept will be capsules can land vertically and will be able to take off without crew input.

Interplanetary capsule will be designed to have 100 person capacity and will have areas on board for entertainment.

The first trips to Mars could be in 2022 or more likely delayed until 2024. That is only 5 or 7 years from now.

Outlines of the Mars colonization plan are in line with what I’ve read before.

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Video shows why rocket science is difficult. More fun news on the wide open frontier of space.

How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster – Elon Musk posted a video of failed launches. You might call this a blooper reel. I prefer to call it:

This is why rocket science is called rocket science.

Enjoy the incidents of “rapid unscheduled disassembly”:

 

(Link: youtube=https://youtu.be/bvim4rsNHkQ00)

As you chuckle at the failed recoveries, keep in mind SpaceX has recovered 16 boosters, reused 2 of them, and has recovered 2 Dragon capsules, having already reused 1.

That, is rocket science.

9/22/17 – Behind the Black – Soyuz launches Russian GPS satellite – In the fun-to-watch race for most launches in 2017, Russia now has a slight lead over SpaceX.

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Amazing news in the wide open frontier of space exploration

Falcon 9 booster a fraction of second before successful recovery. Now *that* is rocket science. A few minutes earlier it was 120+ miles up in the air moving away from the recovery site.  “Orbital Test Vehicle 5 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

Lots of fun articles in the last two months describing the wide open frontier of space exploration.

  • Ghana puts their first sat into orbit. Yes, Ghana. Very cool.
  • In the GPS world, Japan gets another sat in orbit and an Indian launch fails.
  • SpaceX may have more launches this year than Russia and one commentator thinks SpaceX will be dominant in the launch market for decades to come

7/8/17 – Behind the Black – Ghana launches its first satellite and 223 Live News, Ghana’s first Space Satellite enters Orbit – A cubsate built by university students in the western Africa country was launched from the ISS. The small satellite will take pictures of the country in low- and high-resolution. It will also be able to broadcast the national anthem and other music during national events.

Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to get a satellite in space.

The sat went to the ISS on June 10 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.

How cool!

7/24- Popular Mechanics – Why the First True Spaceliner Will Change Everything – The beautiful DC-3 reduced the time for coast-to-coast travel.

Before the DC-3, it took 25 hours and 15 stops for fuel and repairs to cross the country. With the DC-3, there were only 3 stops for fuel.

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Vector Space Systems, another competitor, focused on small satellites

Illustration of small satellite, a.k.a. cubesat. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previously mentioned Vector Space Systems here. A video at Behind the Black prompted me to dive deeper. Here’s what I found.

8/3/17 –  Behind the Black – Video of Vector test launch – Nice video of the second test launch from a new, private space company, Vector.

Company does not have their guidance control system installed so there is visible wobble a second or so after launch. The third launch will have G&C installed.

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Still more amazing news from the open frontier of space: several successes and one, um, learning opportunity.

Intelsat 35e Mission” by SpaceX is in public domain – CC0 1.0

It’s been a good month for SpaceX. Three launches and one recovery of an already recycled Dragon capsule. China has demonstrated that rocket science is rocket science, meaning launches don’t always work.

7/3/17 – Space.com – Back Again…Again: SpaceX’s Dragon Makes Historic 2nd Splashdown A Dragon capsule that had previously been recovered from a trip to the International Space Station has just returned from the ISS a second time and successfully landed in the Pacific Ocean.

This is the first successful reuse of a Dragon capsule.

 

SpaceX’s cameras can track the Falcon 9 until after start of 2nd stage. Fantastic live feed. “Intelsat 35e Mission” by SpaceX is in public domain – CC0 1.0

7/5/17 – Space.com – Three Launches in 12 Days! SpaceX Lofts Heavy Communications Satellite

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Lots of amazing space news from India and OneWeb. Oh, 2 launches by SpaceX in three days.

Falcon 9 on Iridium 2 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

The news from space exploration is constantly amazing.

  • India is making progress in their exploration efforts, with both their GSLV and PSLV rockets.
  • SpaceX has successful launches on 6/23 and 6/25

6/5/17 – Behind the Black – India successfully launches it first GSLV Mark 3 rocket and Space.com – India Just Launched Its Heaviest & Most Powerful Rocket Yet – The new Mark 3 of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted a 6,913 pound satellite into geosync orbit. Lift capacity is 8,818 lbs. Article says that is double the capacity of the Mark 2.

Nice video of the launch embedded in the Space.com article. Cool to see the solid rocket boosters fall away and watch the sat separate.

Falcon 9 on Iridium 2 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

5/19/17 – Wall Street Journal – Who’s in Charge of Outer Space? – The immediate answer is a document called the Outer Space Treaty. It addresses how things are done outside the atmosphere. That document is 50 years old and did not anticipate private players in outer space. Read more…

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