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Posts Tagged ‘spacex’

Israeli lunar lander to launch tonight

Posted by Richard on February 21, 2019

Israel is set to join the exclusive club (US, Russia, and China) that has landed a spacecraft on the moon. But it’s not the Israeli government’s undertaking. This will be the first private lunar mission:

Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) say that Israel’s inaugural voyage to the moon – the world’s first privately funded lunar mission – will begin Thursday night at approximately 8:45 p.m., U.S. Eastern time, when the lunar lander “Beresheet” (“In the Beginning”) blasts off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceIL was a finalist in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, which ended last March with no winner when Google withdrew its support. The XPRIZE Foundation is seeking a sponsor for a new Lunar XPRIZE.

As usual, SpaceX will provide a live webcast of the launch.

So, how long until Hamas declares that Mohammed, in a dream, rode his winged horse to the moon and claimed it for Islam, making this mission an act of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people?

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Incredible must-see video of today’s SpaceX launch and landing

Posted by Richard on April 8, 2016

Trust me, you need to set aside 37 minutes to watch SpaceX’s video of the Dragon CRS-8 mission. If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the first 15-18 minutes. Make sure you watch in full-screen mode and HD. If you have a big-screen TV with a web browser, watch it on that.

Launch is at the 19-minute mark. You definitely want to watch from there through main engine cutoff (MECO) and second stage ignition (~21:30), and the first-stage landing (~27:00) is simply amazing, awesome, breathtaking … words are inadequate to describe it. I’ve watched it five times now and each time is still a thrill. “The crowd is going a little nuts here” is an understatement, and the joy of the people at SpaceX is contagious. It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.

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SpaceX launches private spaceship into orbit

Posted by Richard on December 8, 2010

The first operational test of the Dragon spacecraft, capable of carrying up to 7 astronauts, appears to be a success. This morning, SpaceX launched the Dragon into orbit atop its Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Gizmodo has video.

This was only the second launch of the Falcon 9 (the first was in June), and the first under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. The plans for this flight were ambitious: 

The upcoming demonstration mission will launch from Cape Canaveral and should follow a flight plan nearly identical to the first Falcon 9 launch, but this time the Dragon spacecraft will separate from the second stage and will demonstrate operational communications, navigation, maneuvering and reentry. Although it does not have wings like Shuttle, the Dragon spacecraft is controlled throughout reentry by the onboard Draco thrusters which enable the spacecraft to touchdown at a very precise location – ultimately within a few hundred yards of its target.

While Dragon will initially make water landings, over the long term, Dragon will be landing on land. For this first demo flight, Dragon will make multiple orbits of the Earth as we test all of its systems, and will then fire its thrusters to begin reentry, returning to Earth for a Pacific Ocean splashdown off the coast of Southern California. The entire mission should last around four hours.

It looks like they're well on their way to a successful mission.

UPDATE: Splashdown! And complete success!

The Dragon spacecraft the first private space to reach orbit and return to Earth. It just splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, after a perfect launch, separation, orbit and re-entry. This is a huge milestone in the history of space exploration.

Woohoo! Congrats to Elon Musk and the entire SpaceX team!

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SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled

Posted by Richard on June 3, 2010

The inaugural flight of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation's Falcon 9 launch vehicle is scheduled for this Friday, with a backup launch date of Saturday. The launch window on both days is from 11 AM to 3 PM Eastern, and the launch will be webcast here.

The Falcon 9 is SpaceX's next step in cheap, reliable private space transportation. Its predecessor, Falcon 1, has already successfully placed satellites into orbit. Falcon 9 will provide much greater payload capacities, including the reusable Dragon crew and cargo capsule that's expected to be used to resupply the International Space Station. 

One of the few decisions President Obama has made that I wholeheartedly agreed with was the cancellation of NASA's Ares/Orion shuttle replacement program in favor of relying on private companies like SpaceX. Unfortunately, after an uproar from all the vested interests and their congresscritters (Republican and Democrat), he backpedaled, so now it's going ahead in some kind of scaled-back form.

When Obama originally cancelled Ares/Orion, SpaceX CEO/CTO Elon Musk succinctly stated the argument against the breathtakingly expensive shuttle replacement: "The President quite reasonably concluded that spending $50 billion to develop a vehicle that would cost 50% more to operate, but carry 50% less payload was perhaps not the best possible use of funds."

Orion was designed to carry four people and cost $1.5 billion per flight. SpaceX's Dragon capsule will carry seven people in crew configuration. SpaceX has a contract with NASA to resupply the ISS using Falcon 9 and Dragon. The cost? $1.6 billion for twelve flights. Total. Just a smidge more than a single Orion mission.

I hope the Falcon 9 flight goes well (although a failure or limited success wouldn't be a big deal; the first Falcon 1 launch failed, but it went on to success). The commercialization and privatization of space flight can't come soon enough. As Glenn Reynolds says, "Faster, please!"

UPDATE (June 4): Woohoo! A completely successful inaugural launch:

Posted June 04, 2010 11:54 Pacific Time
T+ 00:09:34 Please continue to check SpaceX.com for additional flight information, including photos and videos as they become available!

Posted June 04, 2010 11:54 Pacific Time
T+ 00:09:04 Falcon 9 has achieved Earth Orbit!

Unfortunately for me, it happened while I was out getting lunch. Oh, well — I'm sure they'll post a video here soon enough.

UPDATE 2: The first video clips are available. 

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Falcon 1 launch failed

Posted by Richard on March 24, 2006

I was watching the streaming video of the maiden launch of Falcon 1, and everything seemed to go perfectly all the way through the countdown and for maybe twenty seconds afterward. The liftoff was beautiful to watch. Shortly after, the video stream switched to an onboard camera showing the ground receding below, and everything seemed to be going well. Then, suddenly, the video stream stopped.

Out of the Cradle, which live-blogged the launch, confirmed loss of the vehicle about 10 minutes after launch and posted an update a little later:

Few details are available, but at this stage it looks like the vehicle veered of course after less than a minute of powered flight. Given that about 50 per cent of first launches of new rockets end in failure, there was always a chance that this would happen. Our sympathies are with the SpaceX team, who have worked so hard to reach this point.

This is a terrible disappointment. A successful launch would have been another giant step in the commercialization and privatization of space flight.

Falcon 1 is the first and smallest of three launch vehicles developed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in an astonishingly short time period. SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal. It promised greater launch vehicle reliability and costs to orbit as low as a tenth of current alternatives, and it has a number of contracted customers already.

Go to Out of the Cradle for pictures of the countdown and launch.

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