Posts Tagged: SpaceX

FAA extends environmental review of SpaceX Boca Chica launch site (again)

SpaceX has to wait even longer to find out if it can launch Starship flights out of its Boca Chica facility in Texas. The US Federal Aviation Administration has delayed its decision on the environmental review of the launch site yet again, pushing back its target date of completion to April 29th. SpaceX must secure the FAA's approval, along with a vehicle operator license, to be able to launch Starship missions out of Boca Chica as planned. 

To be exact, the agency is looking into whether launching the massive reusable vehicle out of the facility will have a significant environmental impact on the area and will be a threat to the safety of the public. Its original target date for completion was December 21st, 2021, but it pushed the date back to February 28th, 2022 and then again to March 28th. On the official page for the environmental assessment, the FAA said it's updating its target date to April 29th "to account for further comment review and ongoing interagency consultations." The FAA received 19,000 comments for the draft version of the review published last year.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk recently revealed that the company is hoping to send Starship into orbit for the first time in May. If the FAA finishes its review on time, and with a favorable result for the company, then there's a chance the launch could happen in a couple of months. It's worth noting, though, that Musk's timelines could be a bit too optimistic.

In case the Boca Chica site fails the FAA's environmental review or if the agency issues an environmental impact statement (EIS) to dig deeper into the company's plans over the next few years, then SpaceX could shift to its backup plan. During a Starship presentation earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX already has approval to launch the Starship from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The move would delay the vehicle's first flight by six to eight months, since the company has to build a launch tower on the launch site, but at least the wait wouldn't last for years. 

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SpaceX shows what a Starship launch would look like

Elon Musk has given SpaceX's first huge Starship update in years, and during his presentation, the company showed off what a launch with the massive launch system would look like. The Starship system is composed of the Starship spacecraft itself on top of a Super Heavy booster. SpaceX is working towards making it rapidly and fully reusable so as to make launches to the Moon and to Mars feasible. After making its way outside our planet, the booster will break off and return to its launch tower, where it will ideally be caught by the tower arms. As for the spacecraft, it will proceed to its destination before making its way back to Earth. 

Musk said the booster will spend six minutes in the air over all, two upon ascent and four for its return trip. In the future, the system could be reused every six to eight hours for three launches a day. SpaceX says achieving a fully and rapidly reusable system is "key to a future in which humanity is out exploring the stars." Musk also talked about how in-orbit refilling — not "refueling," since the vehicle's Raptor engines use more liquid oxygen than fuel — is essential for long-duration flights. 

The Super Heavy booster, Musk said, has more than twice the thrust of a Saturn V, the largest rocket to ever head to space so far. In its current iteration, it has 29 Raptor engines, but it could eventually have 33. Speaking of those engines, Raptor version 2 is a complete redesign of the first, costs half as much and needs fewer parts. The company is capable of manufacturing five to six a week at the moment, but it could apparently be capable of producing as many as seven by next month. 

Aside from being able to carry hundreds of tons, the Starship could revolutionize space travel if SpaceX can truly make launches as affordable as Musk said it could. He revealed during the event that a Starship launch could cost les than $ 10 million per flight, all in, within two to three years. That's significantly less than a Falcon 9 launch that costs around $ 60 million. 

SpaceX wants to launch the Starship from its Boca Chica, Texas facility called Starbase, where it's been building the rocket's prototype. It has yet to secure approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to do so, and Musk said the company doesn't know where things stand with the agency exactly. However, there's apparently a rough indication that the FAA will be come with its environmental assessment in March. SpaceX also expects the rocket to be ready by then, which means Starship's first orbital test flight could be on the horizon. 

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Watch SpaceX launch its first updated cargo Dragon capsule at 11:17AM ET

SpaceX’s crewed flights have garnered the most attention lately, but the uncrewed variety is about to retake the spotlight. The company is launching its updated cargo Dragon capsule for the first time at 11:17AM Eastern from the Kennedy Space Center…
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SpaceX prepares Starship SN8 prototype for high-altitude test flight

In September 2019 Elon Musk said he hoped SpaceX would be able to perform an orbital test of its Starship vehicle within six months, and while that didn’t happen the company is apparently ready to perform a high-altitude flight test. In a tweet, the…
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SpaceX makes first polar orbit launch from Florida in ‘decades’

While SpaceX didn’t pull off a doubleheader Sunday launch like it planned, the company still managed a rare feat. Instead of launching eastward like every other Cape Canaveral rocket, the Falcon 9 headed south toward Cuba, close to populated areas on…
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SpaceX Crew Dragon completes historic mission with an ocean landing

SpaceX’s history-making Crew Dragon mission has come to a close two months after it began. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley successfully landed in the Atlantic Ocean at 2:48PM Eastern after starting their return to Earth nearly 20 hours earlier…
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SpaceX pulls off its first double fairing catch after a Falcon 9 launch

Part of the SpaceX mission has been to create reusable rockets that make spaceflight cheaper, and it has become routine to see the company’s booster rockets return safely to Earth. With today’s launch SpaceX set a new milestone by catching both halve…
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SpaceX will fly space tourists to the ISS as soon as next year

Houston-based private space company Axiom has forged a partnership with SpaceX to fly paying tourists to the ISS as soon as the second half of 2021. Under the terms of their deal, SpaceX will use the Crew Dragon capsule to ferry three tourists and an…
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NASA’s Psyche asteroid mission will use a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket

SpaceX has won the contract for NASA's Psyche mission, and it's using the Falcon Heavy rocket to launch the spacecraft and ferry it to its target asteroid. NASA first approved plans to visit Psyche back in 2017 before finalizing them last year.
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SpaceX delivers the Crew Dragon capsule to its launch site

The SpaceX Crew Dragon, which is slated to be the first spacecraft to carry humans to orbit from American soil since 2011, has arrived at its Cape Canaveral launch site. NASA and SpaceX are already preparing the vehicle for its first flight manned te…
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SpaceX test firing sets path for Crew Dragon flight in February

On Thursday afternoon the rocket engines under SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle briefly fired up, and after a few delays the company said on Twitter that it's planning for a test flight in February. You can watch a video of the test below, which accordin…
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SpaceX completes its first US national security mission

SpaceX managed to squeak in one more milestone before the end of 2018. The private spaceflight company successfully launched its first-ever US national security mission, carrying the US Air Force's equally new GPS III satellite into orbit. The effo…
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Elon Musk pulls Tesla and SpaceX pages after #DeleteFacebook challenge

Elon Musk isn't known for kidding around, and he just made that clear in his response to Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal… more or less, at least. The entrepreneur has hidden the official Facebook accounts for Tesla and SpaceX in response to…
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SpaceX rocket survives an intentional water landing

Right now, SpaceX is only reusing rockets to a limited degree — it's disposing of vehicles after a short while when they're unlikely to survive their next flight. With its latest launch, though, it got lucky. Elon Musk has confirmed that the Falco…
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SpaceX finishes testing Falcon Heavy’s first stage cores

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket has been in the works for so long that it almost feels like the stuff of legend at this point (Elon Musk first unveiled it in 2011), but there are signs that it might make that promised November launch. The private spacef…
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Watch a SpaceX Falcon 9 take off from NASA’s historic launch pad

At 10:01 AM EST on February 18th, a SpaceX flight will take off from Launch Complex 39A for the first time since the company signed a 20-year lease for its use. The company will also attempt another first stage landing around 9 minutes after take off…
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SpaceX wants to cover the globe with gigabit Wi-Fi using a fleet of satellites

An application filed with the Federal Communications Commission reveals that SpaceX wants to launch a fleet of satellites for global gigabit Wi-Fi. The service would first launch in the U.S., and go global once all satellites are in orbit.

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SpaceX will attempt yet another high-velocity rocket landing tonight. Here’s where to watch

SpaceX hopes to safely bring another Falcon 9 rocket home tonight after launching a Thai telecommunications satellite over 20,000 miles above Earth, into a high-elliptical orbit known as geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

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SpaceX Dragon spacecraft returns to Earth with ‘critical’ cargo

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft returns to Earth from ISS, bringing with it scientific cargo that NASA says will be critical to its planned Journey to Mars.

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SpaceX plans ocean landing attempt following February 24 launch

SpaceX will make its next launch attempt and possible ocean landing on February 24 when it is slated to deploy an SES-9 satellite into orbit. The firm’s goal is to send rockets into orbit every few weeks for the rest of 2016.

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SpaceX announces tentative launch timeline for its massive Falcon Heavy rocket

Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturer SpaceX recently announced it plans to launch its massive Falcon Heavy rocket in either late April or early May of 2016.

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