With the Most Reused Parts Ever, SpaceX’s Mission Successfully Sent Its Cargo to the ISS

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Unlike the hit song played nonstop on the radio or your mother questioning you about when you’re going to give her grandchildren, rocket launches are one thing that never gets old. That’s lucky, because SpaceX has done two in the span of just four days. Today, the company again launched its Falcon 9 rocket, this time with 2,630 kilograms (5800 pounds) of deliveries to the International Space Station, from the base in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The theme for this launch: reusable. One of the Falcon boosters first flew on the CRS-12 mission in August 2017. And this particular Dragon module flew in April 2016, on the CRS-8 mission. It’s the first time two reused (or, as SpaceX calls it, “flight-proven”) components have been combined in a single mission.

This marks SpaceX’s 14th successful flight for Dragon, and 15th flight overall (CRS-7, in 2015, failed before reaching orbit). It’s the end of the line for this particular first stage — SpaceX did not attempt to recover it, though the engineers did gather information about it to improve future missions.

Today’s launch was perfectly choreographed, no surprises. It’s a testament to how efficiently SpaceX now operates with missions like these. They’ve really got it down to a science. Things can still happen, of course, but nothing abnormal did today.

Screencap of the livestream of April 2, 2018 SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. Image Credit: Alexandra Ossola

The Dragon is en route to deliver food, gear, and other supplies to the ISS, according to Space.com. It also contains materials for 50 science experiments conducted there, one fifth of the total experiments on board (more info about research on board the ISS can be found here). According to the Kennedy Space Center website and Space.com, those include:

  • An Earth observatory that will study thunderstorms and how they affect Earth’s atmosphere and climate. 
  • An investigation about how to best make products from metal powders in low gravity in order to improve manufacturing techniques. 
  • Experiments on how to best give plants the proper nutrients as part of continued studies to grow food in space.
  • Studies that analyze how fruit flies and wasps interact in microgravity
  • A study that assesses how space affects bone marrow, blood production, and wound healing

It’s not necessarily as exciting as, say, launching a cherry red sports car into the ether. But it’s still pretty dope.

If everything continues to go according to plan, the Dragon will get within docking range of the ISS around 7 AM ET on Wednesday, April 4, at which point “ISS crew members will use the station’s 57.7-foot (17.6- meter) robotic arm to reach out and capture the Dragon spacecraft and attach it to the orbiting laboratory,” notes a SpaceX press release. And you thought those claw machine games were stressful.

Dragon will be back again. After a month-long stint at the ISS, it’s slated to return to Earth, where, if its descent goes well, it will plop right into the Pacific near Baja California.

The post With the Most Reused Parts Ever, SpaceX’s Mission Successfully Sent Its Cargo to the ISS appeared first on Futurism.

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FCC approves SpaceX’s ambitious satellite internet plans

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The Federal Communications Commission today granted SpaceX a license to operate an array of broadband internet satellites, marking the first time the government agency has given the green light for a US-licensed low-Earth orbit broadband service. SpaceX co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has been discussing a micro-satellite constellation for providing broadband internet for years, and in 2017 the company began accelerating its efforts by meeting regularly with the FCC and applying for a license that would allow it to operate in an unused portion of the FCC-regulated broadband spectrum. The company plans to call the service Starlink.

Earlier this year, SpaceX launched the first two of its planned 12,000-satellite constellation. It appears…

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Elon Musk just deleted Tesla’s and SpaceX’s Facebook pages in response to #DeleteFacebook

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“Looks lame anyway,” Musk tweeted.

Oh, Elon.

Earlier this week, WhatsApp co-founder and former Facebook employee Brian Acton went to Twitter to encourage people to #DeleteFacebook in light of the company’s recent privacy scandal with Cambridge Analytica.

Turns out Elon Musk, the eccentric CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, thought it was a great idea.

After tweeting back to Acton asking, “What’s Facebook?” someone suggested Musk delete SpaceX’s corporate Facebook page.

“I didn’t realize there was one. Will do,” he replied.

Then someone suggested he also delete Tesla’s corporate Facebook page.

“Definitely. Looks lame anyway,” Musk replied.

And that was that. Both pages appear to have been deleted. SpaceX’s page had more than 2.7 million followers.

It’s possible Musk is just playing around and the pages will be restored — and I’m sure Facebook and the social media employees at SpaceX and Tesla hope that’s the case. SpaceX utilized its Facebook page to show rocket launches on Facebook Live.

But that’s not really Musk’s style. When Sonos announced on Friday that it would suspend advertising on Facebook for a week, Musk replied, “Wow, a whole week. Risky …”

There might be something deeper to this Musk vs. Facebook situation. If you’ll recall, Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a little beef last year when Zuckerberg suggested that people who created doomsday scenarios about artificial intelligence were irresponsible. Musk has said often that he thinks AI could ultimately lead to the end of civilization as we know it.

“I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited,” Musk said in response to Zuckerberg’s comments. Well okay then!

To add to the tension between the two CEOs, when a SpaceX rocket accidentally exploded during a 2016 launch, it was carrying a Facebook satellite. “I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite,” Zuckerberg said at the time.

Musk deleting his company Facebook pages is certainly funny. But if they stay deleted, and others see how easy it is for a major corporation to cut Facebook out of its life, maybe others will follow along. And that would be bad news for Zuckerberg.

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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Just Completed Another Successful Launch

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Early Tuesday morning, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully completed another launch. The rocket took off from the Complex 40 launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a satellite for Spanish telecommunications company Hispasat.

The rocket took off promptly at 12:33 AM, and deployed its payload just shy of 33 minutes later. Several times throughout the livestream, loud cheers could be heard  the SpaceX team applauded its achievement at each phase of the successful deployment and separation.

Since everything appeared to go according to plan, the satellite should now be in its highly elliptical geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) around Earth.

If the rocket is reusable, it’s a moot point now — SpaceX made no attempt to land the rocket, due to forecasted choppy weather in the Atlantic, according to a press release

Falcon 9 waiting on the launchpad about 10 minutes before launch. Screenshot by Alexandra Ossola

The mission was originally scheduled to take off on February 25. But SpaceX needed to do more tests to make sure the rocket’s payload fairing, the shield that protects the payload shortly after launch, was properly pressurized, according to SpaceFlightNowSo the launch was pushed to today.

Weighing in at 6,092 kilograms (13,400 pounds), the satellite, dubbed the Hispasat 30W-6, marks Falcon 9’s heaviest payload ever, The Verge reports. Now that it’s presumably in orbit, the satellite will provide commercial video, data, and broadband service to Hispasat customers as the company expands its coverage to Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

This launch marks SpaceX’s fifth completed mission this year, four of which involved the Falcon 9 (the one that did not was the test of the Falcon Heavy, which launched a Tesla Roadster into space), and the Falcon 9’s 50th launch to date.

The post SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Just Completed Another Successful Launch appeared first on Futurism.

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Everything You Need to Know About SpaceX’s Secret Falcon Heavy Payload

Secret Payload

Last week, the world watched as SpaceX launched their Falcon Heavy rocket with a Tesla Roadster stowed aboard. However, the rocket also carried something else, and while SpaceX’s secret Falcon Heavy payload may not have generated the same headlines as the Roadster, it could have even bigger implications for humanity’s future in space.

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Inside of the Roadster, SpaceX hid an Arch (pronounced “ark”). The tiny, disc-shaped object is one of the longest-lasting storage devices ever built. It’s expected to withstand millions to billions of years in the harsh conditions of space (or potentially even on the surface of a cosmic object or distant planet).

The Arch isn’t just durable, though. It’s also able to store enormous quantities of data for extended periods of time. Each crystal disc, which looks like a throwback to the “mini-discs” of the early 2000s, can theoretically hold up to 360 terabytes of data. The longevity of the Arch is due to the technology used to inscribe the data and the medium: 5D optical storage in quartz.

Preserving Humanity

SpaceX’s secret Falcon Heavy payload is known as Arch 1.2, and it contains Issac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, a sci-fi series that discusses the preservation of humankind — a relevant topic.

Eventually, the disc’s developers at the Arch Mission Foundation plan to add to the collection to create what they’re calling the “Solar Library.” As co-founder Nova Spivack wrote in a post on Medium, “This is only the first step of an epic human project to curate, encode, and distribute our data across the solar system and beyond.”

Ultimately, the nonprofit group hopes their small quartz crystal discs could “preserve and disseminate humanity’s knowledge across time and space, for the benefit of future generations,” according to Spivack.

They already have plans to launch discs to support early colonists on Mars, and eventually, they hope to connect the Arch Libraries in an enormous, decentralized network that will allow for data sharing and storage throughout the solar system. This is certainly a moonshot, but if humans become a multi-planetary species, we’ll need such a system in place.

The post Everything You Need to Know About SpaceX’s Secret Falcon Heavy Payload appeared first on Futurism.

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The middle booster of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket failed to land on its drone ship

Though the Falcon Heavy’s outer cores successfully landed after launch this afternoon, the middle core of SpaceX’s huge rocket missed the drone ship where it was supposed to land, a source tells The Verge. SpaceX later confirmed The Verge’s reporting in a press conference.

The center core was only able to relight one of the three engines necessary to land, and so it hit the water at 300 miles per hour about 300 feet from the drone ship. As a result, two engines on the drone ship were taken out when it crashed, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a press call after the rocket launch. “[It] was enough to take out two thrusters and shower the deck with shrapnel,” he said.

It’s a small hiccup in an otherwise successful first flight. The Falcon…

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Watch SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch today at 1:30 PM ET

Today, SpaceX will attempt to launch the Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time. The launch window is between 1:30 PM ET and 4:00 PM ET. If you'd like to watch the launch (and trust me, you definitely want to), then you can livestream it below. The s…
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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Just Received Its Launch License

Ready to Launch

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is currently sitting at Cape Canaveral in Florida, with successful testing under its belt, ready to launch into orbit. The rocket passed static fire testing with flying (or rather, burning) colors last week. SpaceX then confirmed that if all goes according to plan, the Falcon Heavy would be ready for launch by February 6th.

On Saturday, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy received a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration for the rocket’s first launch — which is, indeed, scheduled for February 6th.

This license covers only this first, inaugural, launch as every commercial launch in the U.S. need to acquire a license. It is possible, due to weather or unforeseen events, that the launch could be pushed to the 7th. For now, at least, the rocket is all systems go for this coming Tuesday.

Mission to Mars

The Falcon Heavy rocket will launch with a Tesla roadster within its payload — a playful way to put its weight-carrying ability to the test. The Falcon Heavy could be an enormous asset in conjunction with other missions, as well as solo missions, to carry more extensive payloads into space. This could have implications for any extended missions to the Moon, longer stays on the ISS, or beyond.

As some have pointed out, given where SpaceX has long had its sights set, the Falcon Heavy could be our best bet for reaching Mars.

From when the first Falcon 1 launched in 2006 (which failed during ascent) to the recent, successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket (which carried a classified satellite into orbit) SpaceX has come a long way. Now they seem ready to go beyond.

The Falcon Heavy has come to represent a new age of rocket technology and space exploration. Payloads are increasing, and the stakes are higher than they have ever been before for the relatively new company. It will surely be a thrill to anticipate the history-making launch that’s been a long time coming, but now, is just a few days away.

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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Launch Could Be as Soon as February 6

Falcon Heavy

Many have been on the edge of their seats for weeks in anticipation of a launch date for SpaceX’s powerful, mostly reusable rocket, the Falcon Heavy. On Friday, Jan. 26, Chris Gebhardt of NASASpaceflight.com tweeted that the Falcon Heavy launch will occur on Feb. 6 from Cape Canaveral, with a potential backup date the following day (February 7). Gebhardt’s prediction came after the rocket passed its much-anticipated static fire test.

Elon Musk quickly followed up the successful testing by tweeting that the rocket would be ready to launch within “a week or so,” which Gebhardt also confirmed on Twitter.

As of yet, SpaceX has not officially confirmed the date.Gebhardt followed up his initial announcement by clarifying that February 6 is only a No-Earlier-Than date; meaning the date is the soonest SpaceX could realistically launch the rocket.

Launch Date

While the static fire test was the last major hurdle the Falcon Heavy had to jump over before it could be considered generally ready for takeoff, the time between now and the official launch will be filled with double checking the rocket’s components and carefully ensuring that everything is exactly in order.

Many are excited to see if the Falcon Heavy will, in fact, launch a Tesla Roadster into space; Musk’s proposed method of simulating the heavy loads it will later carry into orbit. However, there are still significant doubts about whether Musk was serious about sending his personal Roadster as a trial payload.

Whether or not the launch happens on exactly February 6 (or 7), and whether or not there’s a Roadster aboard, one thing is undeniable: we’re closer than ever to seeing the Falcon Heavy liftoff.

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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch is reportedly set for February 6th

It looks as though it's finally happening. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket may have a launch date, according to Chris G. of NASASpaceflight.com. The rocket will launch no earlier than February 6th, with a window of 1:30 PM ET to 4:30 PM ET. There's a ba…
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