Rocket Report: SpaceX sues the federal government, Chinese launch failure


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Electron launch vehicle is ready to soar.

Enlarge / The Electron launch vehicle is ready to soar. (credit: Rocket Lab)

Welcome to Edition 2.01 of the Rocket Report! This week marks one year since the first report. What started as an experiment has grown into something that a lot of people read. So thank you for joining. And if you appreciate this weekly report and the effort that goes into it, I encourage you to subscribe to Ars Technica. It doesn’t cost much, and there are perks. But mostly you’ll know you’re supporting independent journalism like this. Thank you for considering it.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the

Continue reading “Rocket Report: SpaceX sues the federal government, Chinese launch failure”

SpaceX launches Starlink mission, deploys 60 satellites [Updated]


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




11:40pm ET Update: The Falcon 9 rocket launched. Its first stage landed. And then the second stage coasted for the better part of an hour before making a final burn and deploying its payload of Starlink satellites.

About 1 hour and 3 minutes after the launch, the entire stack of 60 satellites floated away from the Falcon 9’s second stage. Slowly—very slowly, it appeared—the 60 satellites began to drift apart. The SpaceX webcast ended without saying whether this deployment went as anticipated, and it probably will take some time for the Air Force to begin identifying, and tracking the individual satellites.

In any case, this all made for an interesting evening in space.

Read

Continue reading “SpaceX launches Starlink mission, deploys 60 satellites [Updated]”

NASA officially orders its first segment of a lunar space station


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Artist's conception of a spacecraft moving away from the Earth.

Maxar has been selected to build and fly the first element of NASA’s lunar Gateway. (credit: Maxar Technologies)

NASA has chosen its first commercial partner for a proposed space station, known as the Lunar Gateway, to be built near the Moon. On Thursday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Maxar Technologies would build the first component of the Gateway—the power and propulsion element. Like the name suggests, it will provide electricity to the Gateway and help move it around.

“This time when we go to the Moon, we’re actually going to stay,” Bridenstine said in making the announcement. He has characterized the Gateway, which will be positioned in a high, elliptical orbit balanced between the Earth and Moon’s gravity, as a reusable “Command Module.” Under NASA’s current plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024, this is where astronauts will launch to from Earth before climbing aboard pre-positioned

Continue reading “NASA officially orders its first segment of a lunar space station”

For the fifth year in a row, a named storm has formed early in the Atlantic


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Subtropical Storm Andrea, about 475km southwest of Bermuda, isn't much to look at.

Enlarge / Subtropical Storm Andrea, about 475km southwest of Bermuda, isn’t much to look at. (credit: NOAA)

On Monday evening, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center determined that a low pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean had sustained winds of 40mph, and therefore should be named Subtropical Storm Andrea. This was the first named storm of the 2019 Atlantic season, and it could bring some moderate rainfall to Bermuda on Wednesday before dissipating.

Officially, the Atlantic hurricane season does not begin until June 1, and notionally ends on Nov. 30. However, the formation of Andrea marks the fifth year in a row—dating to Tropical Storm Ana in 2015—that a named storm has formed before June 1.

This is unprecedented. According to Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane scientist at the University of Colorado, the development of Andrea breaks the previous record of four consecutive years with a pre-June storm formation. The former record

Continue reading “For the fifth year in a row, a named storm has formed early in the Atlantic”

NASA’s full Artemis plan revealed: 37 launches and a lunar outpost


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A Blue Moon lander, built by Blue Origin, with an ascent vehicle (built by another company) on top.

Enlarge / A Blue Moon lander, built by Blue Origin, with an ascent vehicle (built by another company) on top. (credit: Blue Origin)

In the nearly two months since Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to return to the Moon by 2024, space agency engineers have been working to put together a plan that leverages existing technology, large projects nearing completion, and commercial rockets to bring this about.

Last week, an updated plan that demonstrated a human landing in 2024, annual sorties to the lunar surface thereafter, and the beginning of a Moon base by 2028, began circulating within the agency. A graphic, shown below, provides information about each of the major launches needed to construct a small Lunar Gateway, stage elements of a lunar lander there, fly crews to the Moon and back, and conduct refueling missions.

This decade-long plan, which entails 37 launches of private and NASA rockets,

Continue reading “NASA’s full Artemis plan revealed: 37 launches and a lunar outpost”

NASA chooses companies to design part of its Artemis lunar lander


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Artist's concept of a lunar lander.

Enlarge / Artist’s concept of a lunar lander. (credit: NASA)

Although NASA’s plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024 face some political headwinds, the space agency has taken its first concrete step toward making its ambitions a reality.

On Thursday, the space agency chose 11 companies to develop concepts and prototypes for its lunar lander. The companies chosen for the awards, a total of $45.5 million for all contracts, include a mix of aerospace bluebloods such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, premier new space firms like SpaceX and Blue Origin, and smaller companies like Masten Space Systems. The companies have six months to complete their work.

The awards cover design work for two of the three components of NASA’s proposed “Human Landing System.” As presently envisioned, NASA’s plan for landing humans on the Moon will involve a “transfer” vehicle to carry the lander from a

Continue reading “NASA chooses companies to design part of its Artemis lunar lander”

Rocket Report: Falcon 9 rocket muscles up, ULA to conduct reuse test


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Rocket Report is published weekly.

Enlarge / The Rocket Report is published weekly. (credit: Arianespace)

Welcome to Edition 1.49 of the Rocket Report! Another week has come and gone, and we find ourselves in the middle of May. For Houston, where this report originates, this essentially means the beginning of summer. But for those of you in cooler climates, we hope there’s plenty of news herein to warm your hearts.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Vega rocket preps for rideshare launch. Arianespace has finalized a payload of 42 satellites for a Vega launch as early as September, company officials

Continue reading “Rocket Report: Falcon 9 rocket muscles up, ULA to conduct reuse test”

SpaceX to make its second attempt to launch 60 Starlink satellites


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A rocket sits ready on its launchpad.

Enlarge / The begrimed Falcon 9 booster is back at the launch pad with its Starlink satellite payload. (credit: SpaceX)

Even though time remained in its launch window Wednesday night, SpaceX scrubbed an attempt to launch its first batch of Starlink satellites. The upper-level winds were just not cooperating, so the company stood down the launch attempt.

On Thursday, the rocket stands again at the launchpad. This time, the weather conditions have improved, and the winds in the upper level of the atmosphere appear to be more conducive to a launch. And so SpaceX will press ahead with a historic launch and unconventional deployment of 60 satellites that will provide Internet access. The deployment, about an hour after launch, will be fascinating to watch, and we are eager to know how successful the company and the Air Force will be at connecting with and tracking these satellites.

Below, you

Continue reading “SpaceX to make its second attempt to launch 60 Starlink satellites”

SpaceX to launch 60 Internet satellites and deploy them like a deck of cards


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Falcon 9 rocket, on the launchpad, with its Starlink cargo tucked into the payload fairing.

Enlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket, on the launchpad, with its Starlink cargo tucked into the payload fairing. (credit: SpaceX)

If the weather and Falcon 9 rocket cooperate, the first batch of SpaceX’s Internet satellites will launch from Florida on Wednesday evening. With a mass of 18.5 tons, this will be the company’s heaviest launch to date for either the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket.

Wednesday’s rocket will boost 60 Starlink satellites, each weighing 227kg, to an altitude of 440km. This is the first block of Starlink satellites for what should eventually be a much larger constellation, and they will help SpaceX gauge its performance and conduct tests of several key systems. Over the coming months, these first satellites will be joined by six additional launches carrying similarly sized payloads. These launches will bring the constellation to an initial “operational” capability.

There is no guarantee all will

Continue reading “SpaceX to launch 60 Internet satellites and deploy them like a deck of cards”

SpaceX plans to A/B test its Starship rocketship builds


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Artist's conception of 21st-century rocket ship.

Enlarge / The Starship test vehicle, currently under assembly in South Texas, may look similar to this illustration when finished. (credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

On Tuesday, photos began to emerge online of a new, Starship-like vehicle being built in an industrial park, near Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Later, SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirmed that the company will develop a Starship prototype in Florida to parallel work being done in South Texas.

“Both sites will make many Starships,” Musk shared on Twitter. “This is a competition to see which location is most effective. Answer might be both.” This will not be a strict A/B test, a randomized experiment. Rather, Musk added, any insights gained by one team must be shared with the other, but the other team is not required to use them.

This is a rather new way to develop an orbital spaceship, especially one as large

Continue reading “SpaceX plans to A/B test its Starship rocketship builds”

NASA reveals funding needed for Moon program, says it will be named Artemis


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Trump administration's lunar plan finally has a price. Sort of.

Enlarge / The Trump administration’s lunar plan finally has a price. Sort of. (credit: NASA)

NASA revealed Monday that it needs an additional $1.6 billion in funding for fiscal year 2020 to stay on track for a human return to the Moon by 2024. The space agency’s budget amendment comes in addition to the $21 billion the Trump administration asked Congress for in March.

In a teleconference with reporters on Monday evening, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the budget amendment was a “down payment” on what will be needed in future years to fund the program. “In the coming years, we will need additional funds,” he said. “This is a good amount that gets us out of the gate.” He and the other NASA officials on the call would not say how much that would be.

Two people familiar with NASA’s internal deliberations say the agency

Continue reading “NASA reveals funding needed for Moon program, says it will be named Artemis”

Hermeus announces plan to build the fastest aircraft in the world


This post is by Eric Berger from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Hermeus concept for a Mach 5 aircraft.

Enlarge / Hermeus concept for a Mach 5 aircraft. (credit: Hermeus)

A new aerospace company has entered the race to provide supersonic commercial air travel. On Monday, a US-based company named Hermeus announced plans to develop an aircraft that will travel at speeds of up to Mach 5. Such an aircraft would cut travel time from New York to Paris from more than 7 hours to 1.5 hours.

Hermeus said it has raised an initial round of funding led by Khosla Ventures, but it declined to specify the amount. This funding will allow Hermeus to develop a propulsion demonstrator and other initial technologies needed to make its supersonic aircraft a reality, Skyler Shuford, the company’s chief operating officer, told Ars.

The announcement follows three years after another company, Boom Supersonic, declared its own intentions to develop faster-than-sound aircraft. As of January 2019, Boom had raised more than $140 million

Continue reading “Hermeus anno