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Commercial Space

SPACEX LAUNCHES FIRST OFFICIAL CARGO RESUPPLY MISSION TO SPACE STATION

Cape Canaveral, FL — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) yesterday successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official
cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The SpaceX CRS-1 mission marks the first of at least 12 SpaceX missions to the space station under the company’s cargo resupply contract with NASA. On board the Dragon spacecraft are materials to support investigations planned for the station’s Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies and space station
hardware.

Dragon – the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth — will return with scientific materials and space
station hardware.

The Falcon 9 rocket, powered by nine Merlin engines, performed nominally today during every phase of its approach to orbit, including two stage separations, solar array deployment, and the final push of Dragon into its intended orbit. Dragon will now chase the space station before beginning a series of burns that will bring it into close proximity to the station. If all goes well, Dragon will attach to the complex on October 10 and spend over two weeks there before an expected return to Earth on October 28.

“We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission,” said Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Technical Officer, SpaceX. “We still have a lot of work to do, of
course, as we guide Dragon’s approach to the space station. But the launch was an unqualified success.”

The CRS-1 mission follows a historic demonstration flight last May when SpaceX’s Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to attach to the space station, exchange cargo, and return safely to Earth. The flight signaled restoration of American capability to resupply the space station, not possible since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

Read more at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/living/launch/index.html

 

CCDEV WINNERS TO ADDRESS FUTURE OF HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT AT ISPCS 2012

Launching a new era in human space transportation, NASA has named three finalists to develop commercial solutions for America’s human access to space.  NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative partners are:

- Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colo., $212.5 million

- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Hawthorne, Calif., $440 million

- The Boeing Company, Houston, $460 million

The Boeing Company, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corporation will be featured at ISPCS 2012 on the panel, “Beyond CCDev”, chaired by  George Sowers, Vice President of Human Launch Services  for United Launch Alliance. Panelists will discuss the future of human space transportation and the importance of public/private partnerships.

From Capitol Hill to China, the space industry will be looking to this new group of leaders to deliver on the promise of increased human access to space. ISPCS congratulates all the winners. All Americans are winners today.

 

Read More: http://www.ispcs.com/

 

 

SpaceX’s Merlin 1D Engine Achieves Full Mission Duration Firing

Hawthorne, CA – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces that its Merlin 1D engine has achieved a full mission duration firing and multiple restarts at target thrust and specific impulse (Isp).

The engine firing was for 185 seconds with 147,000 pounds of thrust, the full duration and power required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch. The tests took place at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.

“This is another important milestone in our efforts to push the boundaries of space technology,” said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk. “With the Merlin 1D powering the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, SpaceX will be capable of
carrying a full range of payloads to orbit.”

Watch the Merlin 1D full duration firing video here:  http://youtu.be/976LHTpnZkY

The Merlin 1D builds on the proven technology of the Merlin engines used on the first three flights of Falcon 9, including the recent historic mission to the International Space Station.

With nine Merlins on the first stage, the Falcon 9 rocket will produce nearly 1.5 million pounds of thrust in a vacuum. An enhanced design makes the Merlin 1D the most efficient booster engine ever built, with a vacuum thrust-to-weight ratio
exceeding 150, while still maintaining the structural and thermal safety margins needed to carry astronauts.

Additionally, as SpaceX continues to fulfill an extensive manifest of launches, the new engine is designed for improved manufacturability by using higher efficiency processes, increased robotic construction and reduced parts count.

The Merlin 1D engines will first see flight on Falcon 9 Flight 6, expected to launch in 2013.

The Dragon Has Landed


SpaceX’s Dragon Spacecraft Safely Completes Historic Mission to the Space Station
This morning, at approximately 8:42 AM Pacific/11:42 AM Eastern, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) completed its historic mission when the Dragon spacecraft splashed down safely in the Pacific. The vehicle will now be recovered by boats and start the trip back to land.
At 11:00 AM Pacific/2:00 PM Eastern, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk will join NASA Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini and NASA COTS Program Manager Alan Lindenmoyer for a press conference to discuss today’s exciting events.
Last week, SpaceX made history when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station. Previously only four governments – the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency – had achieved this challenging technical feat. Dragon departed the space station this morning.
This is SpaceX’s second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station.

SPACEPORT AMERICA CONGRATULATES VIRGIN GALACTIC ON ANOTHER MAJOR MILESTONE

(LAS CRUCES, NM)—Spaceport America congratulates Virgin Galactic on their receipt today of an experimental launch permit from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for powered flight of the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft.

Christine Anderson, Executive Director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), said, “This is another major milestone for Virgin Galactic as they progress toward powered flight testing of their spaceflight system.”

 

NMSA is in the final stages of the completion of the 110,000 sq. ft. “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar building located at Spaceport America. Virgin Galactic is set to begin their final fit-out work in the facility this year before their commencement of commercial operations.

 

More information on Virgin Galactic powered flight permitting can be found at:

http://www.virgingalactic.com/news/item/faa-launch-permit-gives-virgin-galactics-space-vehicles-the-green-light-for-powered-flight/

 

ABOUT SPACEPORT AMERICA:

 

Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. It is situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the US Army White Sands Missile Range. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Company is the spaceport’s anchor tenant. Spaceport America has been providing commercial vertical launch services since 2006.  Phase One of the spaceport development is expected to be complete in 2012. Phase One includes the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space
Terminal Hangar Facility, the Spaceport Operations Center, the 10,000-foot runway and supporting infrastructure.

Phase Two activities have begun and include improvements to the vertical launch complex, 2,000 ft. runway extension, additional road access to the spaceport, and the development of a world-class Visitor Experience that includes two Welcome Centers and a Visitor Center designed to delight and inspire spaceport guests.

To date, there have been 15 vertical launches at Spaceport America. Customers include Armadillo Aerospace, UP Aerospace, MOOG FTS and Lockheed Martin.

The economic impact of launches, tourism and new construction at Spaceport America is already delivering on the promise of economic development to the people of New Mexico. Over 1,000 jobs for New Mexicans have been generated to date.

For
more information, please visit:

www.spaceportamerica.com

For more information on Preview Tours of the Spaceport, please visit: www.ftstours.com

Facebook: Spaceport America, or follow us on Twitter: @Spaceport NM

Intelsat Signs First Commercial Falcon Heavy Launch Agreement with SpaceX

Advanced Vehicle Provides Expanded Options for Operator of the World’s Largest Satellite Fleet

Credit: SpaceX

Washington, DC / Hawthorne, CA May 29, 2012 – Today, Intelsat, the world’s leading provider of satellite services, and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the world’s fastest growing space launch company, announced the first commercial contract for the Falcon Heavy rocket.

“SpaceX is very proud to have the confidence of Intelsat, a leader in the satellite communication services industry,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer. “The Falcon Heavy has more than twice the power of the next largest rocket in the world. With this new vehicle, SpaceX launch systems now cover the entire spectrum of the launch needs for commercial, civil and national security customers.”

“Timely access to space is an essential element of our commercial supply chain,” said Thierry Guillemin, Intelsat CTO. “As a global leader in the satellite sector, our support of successful new entrants to the commercial launch industry reduces risk in our business model. Intelsat has exacting technical standards and requirements for proven flight heritage for our satellite launches. We will work closely with SpaceX as the Falcon Heavy completes rigorous flight tests prior to our future launch requirements.”

This is the first commercial contract for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. Under the agreement, an Intelsat satellite will be launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

 

About the Falcon Heavy

Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in the world and historically is second only to the Apollo-era Saturn V moon rocket. Capable of lifting 53 metric tons (117,000 pounds) to low Earth orbit and over 12 metric tons (26,000 pounds) to GTO, Falcon Heavy will provide more than twice the performance to low Earth orbit of any other launch vehicle. This will allow SpaceX to launch the largest satellites ever flown and will enable new missions. Building on the reliable flight proven architecture of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, Falcon Heavy is also designed for exceptional reliability, meeting both NASA human rating standards as well as the stringent U.S. Air Force requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, making it an attractive solution for commercial, civil and military customers.

 

About SpaceX

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft. With a diverse manifest of 40 launches to deliver commercial and government satellites to orbit, SpaceX is the world’s fastest growing launch services provider. In 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to put a spacecraft into orbit and return it safely to Earth. With the retirement of the space shuttle, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are carrying cargo, and one day astronauts, to and from the space station for NASA. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. The company has over 1,800 employees in California, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Florida. For more information, visit SpaceX.com.

 

About Intelsat

Intelsat is the leading provider of satellite services worldwide. For over 45 years, Intelsat has been delivering information and entertainment for many of the world’s leading media and network companies, multinational corporations, Internet Service Providers and governmental agencies. Intelsat’s satellite, teleport and fiber infrastructure is unmatched in the industry, setting the standard for transmissions of video, data and voice services. From the globalization of content and the proliferation of High Definition, to the expansion of cellular networks and broadband access, with Intelsat, advanced communications anywhere in the world are closer, by far. For more information about Intelsat, visit intelsat.com. Intelsat is the world’s leading provider of fixed satellite services. With Intelsat, advanced communications anywhere in the world are closer, by far.

 

Return of the Dragon

Dragon to Depart ISS on Thursday

NASA News Release

Wed, 30 May 2012 01:17:19 PM EDT

The Expedition 31 crew of the International Space Station spent much of the day Tuesday working with the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle, reviewing procedures for the departure of the first commercial spacecraft to visit the station and packing it with items for return to Earth.

Dragon, which delivered 1,014 pounds of non-critical cargo on its demonstration flight to the station, was cleared unanimously Tuesday by the station’s Mission Management Team for unberthing early Thursday. In reverse order of how Dragon was captured and berthed Friday, the crew will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the vehicle from the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony node at 4:05 a.m., move it away from the station and release it at 5:35 a.m. for return to Earth. The SpaceX team in Hawthorne, Calif., will run Dragon through about five hours of orbital operations before commanding it to a splashdown for recovery off the California coast.

 

Read more: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/cargo/spacex_index.html

 

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Seen Flying Under the International Space Station

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Completes Key Tests In Quest to Visit Space Station

Most Difficult Challenges Still Ahead


May 24, 2012

Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft completed key on-orbit tests as part of a historic attempt to be the first commercial company in history to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.

In the days since SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the vehicle has steadily completed one task after another as it prepares to berth with the International Space Station. Only minutes after the spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, its solar arrays successfully deployed, providing power to the spacecraft. The door that had been covering sensors needed for proximity operations opened successfully.

On Tuesday and Wednesday Dragon traveled in orbit, firing its thrusters to catch up to the space station. During that time, the vehicle hit a series of milestones. Dragon showed its Absolute Global Positioning System (GPS) is in good working order. The vehicle demonstrated both a pulsed and a full abort. It also demonstrated free drift, floating freely in orbit as it will when grappled by the space station’s robotic arm. And its proximity operations sensors and SpaceX’s COTS UHF Communication Unit (CUCU) are up and running.

Early this morning, Dragon’s thrusters fired, bringing the vehicle 2.4 kilometers below the International Space Station. The vehicle completed two key tests at that distance. Dragon demonstrated its Relative GPS and established a communications link with the International Space Station using CUCU. Astronauts commanded on Dragon’s strobe light to confirm the link worked.

A video of Dragon as seen by the space station is available at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=144472261

With these tests complete, Dragon has started the trip flying around the space station, returning the spacecraft to its original approach location.

Dragon has been performing well, but the most difficult aspects of the mission are still ahead.

 

FRIDAY MORNING – Final Approach, Dragon Grapple

Around 2:00 AM Pacific/5:00 AM Eastern NASA will decide if Dragon is GO to move into the approach ellipsoid 1.4 kilometers around the space station. If Dragon is GO, after approximately one hour Dragon will move to a location 250 meters directly below the station. Dragon will then perform a series of maneuvers to show systems are operating as expected. If NASA is satisfied with the results of these many tests, Dragon will be allowed to perform the final approach to the space station.

Sometime around 6:00 AM Pacific/9:00 AM Eastern, astronauts on the space station will grapple Dragon with the space station’s robotic arm and the spacecraft will attach to the station.

 

SATURDAY MORNING – Hatch Opening

If all goes well, at approximately 2:00 AM Pacific/5:00 AM Eastern, the crew will start procedures to open Dragon’s hatch. It will take around 2 hours to complete all operations leading to the hatch opening. Once the hatch is opened, astronauts will enter Dragon for the first time in space.

All dates and times are approximate and could easily change.

This is SpaceX’s second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed; by their very nature, they carry a significant risk. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again.

Update on SpaceX COTS 2 Test Launch

Update on SpaceX COTS 2 Test Launch

SpaceX Press Release – May 19, 2012

Today’s COTS 2 Demonstration launch was aborted half a second before liftoff when the flight computer detected slightly high  ressure in the engine 5 combustion chamber. We have discovered root cause and repairs are underway.

During rigorous inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine.  We are now in the process of replacing the failed valve.  Those repairs should be complete tonight.  We will continue to review data on Sunday.  If things look good, we will be ready to attempt to launch on Tuesday, May 22nd at 3:44 AM Eastern.

The next launch attempt will be webcast live at www.spacex.com.

NASA SpaceX Post-Launch Attempt Scrub Briefing

NASA SpaceX post-launch attempt scrub briefing. At t-minus 0.5 seconds the Falcon 9 computer shutdown the rocket due to a high pressure reading on engine number 5. NASA/SpaceX set to try again 3:44 EDT May 22d.

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