Commercial Space


(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:




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.

more information, please visit:

For more information on Preview Tours of the Spaceport, please visit:

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


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 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:


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

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.



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

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.

NASA/Spacex Discuss Upcoming Test Launch and Mission To ISS

Officials from NASA and SpaceX held a press briefing at the Kennedy Space Center to discuss the second SpaceX demonstration launch for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS), scheduled for liftoff on Saturday, May 19. The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule will occur from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a single instantaneous launch opportunity at4:55 a.m. EDT. NASA Television launch commentary from Cape Canaveral begins at 3:30 a.m.

During the flight, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will conduct a series of check-out procedures to test and prove its systems, including the capability to rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station.

For more information visit:


SpaceX to Webcast Static Fire for Upcoming

Mission Would Make SpaceX the First Commercial Company to Attempt to Send a Spacecraft
to the International Space Station

Hawthorne, CA – On Monday, April 30, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will webcast a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine powerful Merlin engines in preparation for the company’s upcoming launch.

The webcast, available at, is set to begin at 2:30 PM ET/ 11:30 AM PT, with the actual static fire targeted for 3:00 PM ET/ 12:00 PM PT.

The 9 engine test will take place at the company’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as part of a full launch dress rehearsal leading up to the second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) launch. During the rehearsal, SpaceX engineers will run through all countdown processes as though it were launch day. The exercise will end with all nine engines firing at full power for two seconds.

After the test, SpaceX will conduct a thorough review of all data as engineers make final preparations for the upcoming launch, currently targeted for May 7. SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket. During the mission, Dragon’s sensors and flight systems will be subject to a series of tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station. If NASA decides Dragon is ready, the vehicle will attach to the
station and astronauts will open Dragon’s hatch and unload the cargo onboard.

This will be the first attempt by a commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, a feat previously performed by only a few
governments. Success is not guaranteed. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again. It is also the
second demonstration flight under NASA’s program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station.

The first SpaceX COTS flight, in December 2010, made SpaceX the first commercial company in history to send a spacecraft to orbit and return it safely to Earth. Once SpaceX demonstrates the ability to carry cargo to the space station, it will begin to fulfill its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for NASA for at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the space station. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward this goal.

SpaceX also plans to broadcast the entire launch live at on launch day.


Stephen Hawking Accepts Prestigious NSS Award on Society’s 25th Anniversary

Press Release – Washington,  DC – March 28, 2012 – The National Space Society (NSS) is pleased to announce Dr. Stephen Hawking as the 14th recipient of NSS’s Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award. The award will be presented to Dr. Hawking at a special ceremony at the Cooks Branch Conservancy in Montgomery, Texas on Wednesday, March 28 and is given in recognition of his outstanding and continuing public efforts in support of human space development and settlement.

In the last decade, Dr. Hawking has repeatedly and publicly advocated the need to move part of humanity off the Earth in order to avoid the destruction of the human race, either through self-destructive actions such as nuclear war, or natural phenomena such as asteroid collision or, eventually, the death of our nearest star, the Sun. “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” says Hawking. “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”

 ”Dr. Hawking’s public statements are very important, not only because of the respect his fellow scientists and many others have for him and his work, but also because they give more credence to these issues among scientists, the media,
politicians, and the public,” said NSS Executive Director, Paul E. Damphousse, who will present the award to Hawking in Texas, along with Board of Governors member and Heinlein literary executor, Arthur M. Dula, CEO of Excalibur Almaz, a private spaceflight company.

Damphousse added, “Speaking for all our members, chapters, and partners who actively participated in the selection process, it is a distinct honor and privilege to bestow this honor upon Dr. Hawking – one of the greatest minds of our time.”

 The Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award, named after the author widely recognized as the “dean of science fiction writers,” honors those individuals who have made significant, lifetime contributions to the creation of a free, spacefaring civilization. Those individuals whose actions have involved personal, social, or financial risk are particularly meritorious. It is one of the highest honors bestowed upon an individual by the National Space Society because the award winner is chosen by vote of all of the Society’s members and chapters.

 The date on which Dr. Hawking will receive the award exactly coincides with the 25th anniversary of the founding of the National Space Society through a merger between the National Space Institute and the L5 Society. More formal celebratory events will occur at NSS’s 31st International Space Development Conference to be held in Washington, D.C., May 24-28, 2012. A video of the award presentation to Dr. Hawking will be shown at the 25th Anniversary Governors Dinner and Gala.

 About The National Space Society (NSS): NSS is an independent, educational,
grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring
civilization.  Founded when the National Space Institute and the
L5 Society merged in 1987,
NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space.  NSS has
over 12,000 members and supporters, and over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world.  The
society publishes Ad Astra
magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important
developments in space.

About ISDC: The International Space Development Conference is the annual
conference of the National Space Society. ISDC 2012 will take place at the Grand
Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC from May 24 through 28, 2012. ISDC brings together
a diverse group of NASA officials, aerospace industry leaders and interested
private citizens to engage in discussions about today’s prevalent space issues
in order to stimulate innovation and overcome the obstacles that hinder human
advancement off the Earth.


For more information on the National Space Society, please visit, or contact Paul Damphousse at or 202-429-1600. For more information
on ISDC 2012, please visit , or contact Debbie Cohen at or 202-429-1600.

Enter the Dragon, Please Take Your Seats

SpaceX Press Release


SpaceX Completes Important Commercial Crew Milestone

SpaceX continues to prepare for our upcoming test flight in which we will attempt to send the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. At the same time we continue making rapid progress in our efforts to prepare the Dragon
spacecraft to carry astronauts.

You may have read our update on the initial tests of the SuperDraco engines that will power the launch escape system. Recently, SpaceX completed another important milestone – the first NASA Crew Trial, one of two crew tests as part of SpaceX’s work to build a prototype Dragon crew cabin.

For this milestone SpaceX demonstrated that our new crew cabin design will work well for astronauts in both nominal and off-nominal scenarios. It also provided our engineers with the opportunity to gain valuable feedback from both NASA astronauts and industry experts.


SpaceX and
NASA conducted a daylong review of the Dragon crew vehicle layout using the
Dragon engineering model equipped
with seats and
representations of crew systems. Photo: SpaceX


The engineering prototype includes seven seats as well as representations of crew accommodations such as lighting, environmental control and life support systems, displays, cargo racks, and other interior systems. During the daylong
test, SpaceX and NASA evaluators including four NASA astronauts, participated in human factors assessments which covered entering and exiting Dragon under both normal and contingency cases, as well as reach and visibility evaluations.


Test crew included (from top
left): NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA Astronaut
Tony Antonelli, NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations
Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA
Astronaut Rex Walheim, and NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra. Photo: Roger Gilbertson /


The seven
seats mount to strong, lightweight supporting structures attached to the
pressure vessel walls. Each seat can hold an adult up to 6 feet 5 inches tall,
250 lbs, and has a liner that is custom-fit for the crewmember.


With all seven crewmembers
in their seats, Dragon has sufficient interior space for three additional
people to stand and assist
the crew with their launch


NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim,
SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk and SpaceX Commercial Crew Development
and former NASA Astronaut
Garrett Reisman standing inside the Dragon spacecraft during testing


In fact, Dragon has so much interior volume, that we could place an entire three-person Russian Soyuz capsule descent module inside Dragon’s pressure vessel.


SpaceX Featured on 60 Minutes

This Sunday,
March 18th, SpaceX will be featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes television program.
Click here to preview the final piece and in the US, check
your local listings for air times

Stay tuned for more updates as we work towards making Dragon the most advanced spacecraft ever flown.

Check out our interview with Ken Bowersox, V. P. SpaceX done in 2010 at the ISPCS Conference.


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