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Thread: SpaceX Omnibus Thread

  1. #61
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    Yesterday Elon sucessfuly launched another rocket, this time carrying an internet satellite: https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/21/wa...ecirc_featured

  2. #62
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    Technically what it carried was a Spanish dual-use reconnaissance satellite (third near-identical unit for the German TSX constellation) and a pair of experimental SpaceX comms sats for which - unlike their competition - they don't really have a FCC license yet. Launch still only filled 10% of the F9's capacity.

  3. #63
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    Seems Baikonur is losing a lot of business. The TanDEM-X was launched from there, on a Ukrainian Dnepr which no longer available, which cost $29 million.

    The Russians don't have anything at that price point anymore, and if competitive bids were sought, Musk must have offered a discount, the Falcon 9 being $62 million, tacking two of his own satellites onto the launch to be able to undercut the Arianespace Vega, which runs at $37 million for a launch.

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    Paz was originally in early 2015 booked for a Dnepr launch from the Russian ICBM base at Yasny - Kosmotras converted the R-36M2 there and silo-launched them into space. Since Kosmotras went virtually defunct a few months later they cancelled the contract in mid-2016 and then shopped around for another launch opportunity after getting their €15 million prepayment back.

    Around that time Arianespace could probably have offered them a launch spot on a Vega in 2019, but given Morocco at the time had a launch spot on a Vega for November 2017 for the first of their planned two optical recon sats the Spanish military insisted on having Paz launched around the same time - SpaceX botched that plan a bit by postponing the launch, it was originally booked for early December.

  5. #65
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    So basically the Spanish only opted to utilize the Falcon 9 because there were no Vegas available in the timeframe they wanted the satellite launched. I wonder how much they paid SpaceX for the launch.

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    There's a hint in these two excerpts from Hisdesat's 2016 business report:

    Name:  hisdesat1.gif
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    Those 53.4 million EUR were 58-60 million USD depending on the time of the year for currency exchange.
    • SpaceX is known to demand two-thirds outlay upfront. That would be about 42 million USD at full price.
    • Buying those exactEarth shares was at most 2-3 million USD; Hisdesat's entire stock in the company is worth 6 million USD.
    • For any other investment not detailed, I doubt this exceeded the remaining 13-16 million USD - as that would already be twice what they invested in this regard in 2015.

    In 2017 they then retrieved their previous outlay - 15 million EUR, 50% of launch cost at 2014 exchange rates - from Kosmotras, and probably used that as a reserve for the remainder for the SpaceX launch.

    I'd therefore assume they paid the full price or something rather close to it.
    Last edited by kato; 25 Feb 18, at 07:56.

  7. #67
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    This is neat. A little Easter Egg for any aliens who stumble across our solar system in the next few tens of millions of years.

    Putting Civilization in a Box for Space Means Choosing Our Legacy

    When SpaceX's record-breaking Falcon Heavy rocket made its first test launch in early February, the craft didn't just hurl Elon Musk's shiny red roadster and spacesuit-clad mannequin to space. It had another, smaller payload, which at first glance seems much less impressive: a 1-inch-wide (2.5 centimeters) quartz disc with Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy encoded in laser-etched gratings.

    The famous science fiction series is only the beginning of the discs' planned contents. At a time when traditional hard drives are just breaking into the terabyte range, the quartz medium can hold up to 360 terabytes per disc. It also boasts a life span of 14 billion years. That's longer than the current age of the universe.

    This disc was symbolic; future devices will contain much more, and more useful, information. But the technology speaks to grander issues that humanity is now pondering: becoming a multiplanetary civilization, storing information for thousands or millions of years, and contacting and communicating with other intelligences (alien and Earthling).

    So how should we record our knowledge and experiences for posterity? How should we ensure that this information is understandable to civilizations that may be quite different from our own? And, most importantly, what should we say? [Success! SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy Rocket on Historic Maiden Voyage]

    Humans have faced challenges like these before. Ancient civilizations built monuments like the pyramids and left artifacts and writing, sometimes deliberately. Later researchers have used this material to try to piece together ancient worldviews. However, in the modern era, we've set our sights much further: from centuries to millennia, from one planet to interstellar space, and from one species to many.

    Set in stone

    Ancient civilizations, from the Maya to the Indus Valley civilization, used stone and ceramic to keep records. These materials may not be the most efficient medium, but they are certainly durable. Clay tablets from Mesopotamia have survived from the very dawn of civilization.

    Today, people store most of our records in delicate electronics, which degrade far more easily than the tablets of yore.

    "Our civilization is more ephemeral, and more at risk, than any civilization we've ever had," Nova Spivack told Space.com. Spivack co-founded the nonprofit Arch Mission Foundation (pronounced ark, as in archive), which provided the quartz discs sent skyward on the Falcon Heavy rocket.

    Quartz, like glass, is chemically stable and physically durable, Spivack pointed out. Just think of all the glass instruments used in chemistry labs worldwide. And because quartz is transparent, scientists can use high-powered lasers to create patterns within the disc, similar to those 3D crystal engravings you can buy at gift shops. Physically etching data into a disc creates a far more enduring record than using electronic means of encoding data. For instance, the magnetic memory on a hard drive is susceptible to electromagnetic fields, and it naturally decays over time.

    Transcribing the data within the material, as opposed to on its surface, also provides advantages. It protects information from surface wear, which can kill devices like CDs, where data is stored on the surface. This method also allows for a higher information density, according to the paper describing the technique. Engineers can take advantage of five variables to encode data — each grating's three spatial dimensions as well as two optical properties, called the slow-axis orientation and the retardance. This lets them achieve that impressive 360-terabyte figure.

    The discs are also a convenient way to send and receive large data packages. Spivack said he envisions humans shooting these high-capacity discs toward distant space outposts to deliver updates from, say, the Earth internet to the Martian internet. The discs would almost certainly offer more bandwidth than radio transmissions do, said Spivack, and physically sending information from place to place is already a widely accepted practice. In fact, Google used this method to transfer 120 terabytes of data from the Hubble Space Telescope between different scientists.

    The 5D data storage used on the quartz discs is still prohibitively expensive. The first set of discs was created and gifted to Arch by the lab that invented the technique at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. Spivack predicted that millions of dollars and upwards of a decade of work are necessary to make the technology commercially viable. Storage efforts like Microsoft's Project Silica show that work to improve the technique is already underway.
    https://www.space.com/39786-send-civ...the-stars.html

  8. #68
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    SpaceX launches its largest satellite ever which is nearly the size of a bus

    Elon Musk's SpaceX launched its largest satellite ever into space on Tuesday, which was nearly the size of a bus.

    It marked the 50th time the company has flown one of its signature Falcon 9 rockets.

    The payload was a 30W-6 satellite made by Spanish firm Hispasat and was launched from Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

    Typically, once SpaceX has released a satellite into space, the rocket then lands back on earth so it can be reused. SpaceX said it did not attempt to do that this time due to "unfavorable weather conditions."

    Chief Executive Musk said that the Hispasat satellite is the "largest geostationary satellite we've ever flown."
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/06/spac...lite-ever.html

  9. #69
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    Well, technically it was a bog standard SSL-1300 bus with 65 transmitters and a 11.5 kW powerplant onboard weighing in at around 6.1 tons. Space Systems Loral has been building since the 80s, with around 90 launched.

    SpaceX has launched satellites based on the same bus before too, e.g. EchoStar 23 last year. The heavier versions (up to 6.9 tons) are mainstay customers for Ariane 5 and Proton, the medium-sized versions - which SpaceX is targeting - used to be a mainstay of SeaLaunch.

  10. #70
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    http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/30/tech...nch/index.html

    SpaceX aced its launch, but the $6 million nose cone crashed

    SpaceX launched another rocket on Friday, and fans waited with bated breath to find out if the company successfully landed the $6 million nose cone into a giant seaborne net.

    But the news wasn't good. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that as the nose cone — also called a fairing — fell back toward Earth, the parafoils that were supposed to slow its decent became tangled.

    So the "fairing impacted water at high speed," Musk said. That likely destroyed it.

    Liftoff occurred just after 7 am PT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and the primary mission went off without a hitch. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket delivered a group of 10 satellites into orbit for communications firm Iridium (IRDM).

    SpaceX is well known for landing and reusing rocket boosters to bring down the price of its rockets. But this was one of the rare occasions Musk has acknowledged his rocket startup's attempts to recover the fairing after launch.

    The fairing rests on the top of the rocket, and it acts as a shield for the satellites during launch. Once the rocket is in space,it splits into two and falls away. Typically, it's left to plummet back to Earth where the ocean becomes its graveyard.

  11. #71
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    [Merged several SpaceX threads]
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

  12. #72
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    https://arstechnica.com/science/2018...launch-market/
    Russia appears to have surrendered to SpaceX in the global launch market

    As recently as 2013, Russia controlled about half of the global commercial launch industry with its fleet of rockets, including the Proton boosters. But technical problems with the Proton, as well as competition from SpaceX and other players, has substantially eroded the Russian share. This year, it may only have about 10 percent of the commercial satellite launch market, compared to as much as 50 percent for SpaceX.

    In the past, Russian space officials have talked tough about competing with SpaceX in providing low-cost, reliable service to low-Earth and geostationary orbit. For example, the Russian rocket corporation, Energia, has fast-tracked development of a new medium-class launch vehicle that it is calling Soyuz-5 to challenge SpaceX.

    On Tuesday, however, Russia's chief spaceflight official, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, made a remarkable comment about that country's competition with SpaceX.

    "The share of launch vehicles is as small as 4 percent of the overall market of space services," Rogozin said in an interview with a Russian television station. "The 4 percent stake isn’t worth the effort to try to elbow Musk and China aside. Payloads manufacturing is where good money can be made."

    According to an independent analysis, the global launch market is worth about $5.5 billion annually. Losing its half-share of this market, therefore, has probably cost the Russians about $2 billion, which is a significant fraction of its non-military aerospace budget.

    Rogozin is correct that satellite manufacturing is a considerably larger industry, worth about $14 billion a year. But like launch, this is also a competitive industry, and Russia has historically not had a dominant position in the satellite manufacturing and services industry like it has had in launch. It was the Soviet Union that first launched a satellite, Sputnik, and then a human, Yuri Gagarin, into space, after all.

    What seems most remarkable about Rogozin's comment is that, for the first time publicly, the world's most storied launch provider appears to be ceding the commercial launch market to other providers—most notably a rocket company that didn't exist until 2002, and flew its first orbital rocket less than a decade ago.

    More here: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-s...-idUSKBN1HP2Q8
    SpaceX rocket launched from Florida carrying NASA planet-hunting telescope

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on Wednesday on SpaceX’s first high-priority science mission for NASA, a planet-hunting orbital telescope designed to detect worlds beyond our solar system that might be capable of harboring life.

    The Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, lifted off on schedule from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:51 p.m. EDT, following a two-day postponement forced by a technical glitch found on Monday in the rocket’s guidance-control system.

    Within minutes of the launch, the main-stage booster separated from the upper part of the rocket and flew itself back to Earth for a successful touchdown on an unmanned landing vessel floating in the Atlantic.

    NASA’s latest astrophysics satellite, meanwhile, soared on toward orbit, starting the clock on a two-year, $337 million quest to expand astronomers’ known catalog of so-called exoplanets, worlds circling distant stars.

    Wednesday’s blastoff was a milestone of sorts for Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, the private launch service owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

    The California-based company has launched cargo missions and other payloads for NASA before. But TESS marks the first under a special certification SpaceX has obtained to carry one of NASA’s highest-priority science instruments.

    TESS is designed to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented during the past 20 years and is running out of fuel.

    NASA expects to pinpoint thousands more previously unknown worlds, perhaps hundreds of them Earth-sized or “super-Earth” sized - no larger than twice as big as our home planet.

    Those are believed the most likely to feature rocky surfaces or oceans and are thus considered the best candidates for life to evolve. Scientists said they hope TESS will ultimately help catalog at least 100 more rocky exoplanets for further study in what has become one of astronomy’s newest fields of exploration.

    “TESS is going to dramatically increase the number of planets that we have to study,” TESS principal investigator George Ricker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told reporters in a pre-launch briefing on Sunday.

    Roughly the size of a refrigerator with solar-panel wings and four special cameras, TESS will take about 60 days to reach a highly elliptical orbit between Earth and the moon to begin its observations.

    Like Kepler, TESS will use a detection method called transit photometry, which looks for periodic, repetitive dips in the visible light of stars caused by planets passing, or transiting, in front of them.

    TESS will focus on 200,000 pre-selected stars that are relatively nearby and among the brightest as seen from Earth, making them better-suited for sensitive follow-up analysis.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 19 Apr 18, at 11:54.
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  13. #73
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    Russia mostly loses its customers to Arianespace, only the budget crunchers with smaller payloads among them go to SpX.

    What SpaceX has been picking up is the market share of SeaLaunch.

  14. #74
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    More here: https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/04/2...rn-california/

    SpaceX to build BFR factory in Southern California

    SpaceX plans to build its massive BFR rocket boosters and spaceships inside a cavernous new factory at the Port of Los Angeles, officials announced this week.

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed Monday during a State of the City address that SpaceX will produce its Big Falcon Rocket at a site at the Port of Los Angeles.

    “This vehicle holds the promise of taking humanity deeper into the cosmos than ever before,” Garcetti added on Twitter.

    SpaceX and port officials have discussed the aerospace company’s use of a 19-acre waterfront parcel at the harbor since 2015, and the parties wrapped up lease negotiations last month. The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners on Thursday approved the agreement with SpaceX.

    SpaceX’s huge new rocket will tower nearly 350 feet (106 meters) tall and span 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter, according to information presented by company founder Elon Musk last year.

    The reusable vehicle will come in two pieces.

    A booster stage, powered by 31 methane-fueled Raptor engines will produce nearly 12 million pounds of thrust and be capable of returning to Earth for propulsive vertical landings like SpaceX’s existing Falcon rockets. An upper stage that doubles as an interplanetary transporter will carry people, supplies, satellites, and huge propellant tanks that can be refilled in space.

    Bruce McHugh, SpaceX’s director of construction and real estate, told the Board of Harbor Commissioners on Thursday that the 19-acre site at Berth 240 “is the perfect spot to build our big rocket.”

    SpaceX examined potential factory locations in Southern California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas before settling on the Port of Los Angeles location, according to Michael DiBernardo, the port’s deputy executive director of marketing and customer relations.
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  15. #75
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    Full article: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018...space-station/
    NASA to pay more for less cargo delivery to the space station

    A new analysis finds that NASA will pay significantly more for commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station in the 2020s rather than enjoying cost savings from maturing systems. According to a report by the space agency’s inspector general, Paul Martin, NASA will likely pay $400 million more for its second round of delivery contracts from 2020 to 2024 even though the agency will be moving six fewer tons of cargo. On a cost per kilogram basis, this represents a 14-percent increase.

    One of the main reasons for this increase, the report says, is a 50-percent increase in prices from SpaceX, which has thus far flown the bulk of missions for NASA’s commercial cargo program with its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket.

    This is somewhat surprising because, during the first round of supply missions, which began in 2012, SpaceX had substantially lower costs than NASA’s other partner, Orbital ATK. SpaceX and Orbital ATK are expected to fly 31 supply missions between 2012 and 2020, the first phase of the supply contract. Of those, the new report states, SpaceX is scheduled to complete 20 flights at an average cost of $152.1 million per mission. Orbital ATK is scheduled to complete 11 missions at an average cost of $262.6 million per mission.
    Higher prices

    But that cost differential will largely evaporate in the second round of cargo supply contracts. For flights from 2020 to 2024, SpaceX will increase its price while Orbital ATK cuts its own by 15 percent. The new report provides unprecedented public detail about the second phase of commercial resupply contracts, known as CRS-2, which NASA awarded in a competitively bid process in 2016. SpaceX and Orbital ATK again won contracts (for a minimum of six flights), along with a new provider, Sierra Nevada Corp. and its Dream Chaser vehicle. Bids by Boeing and Lockheed Martin were not accepted.
    Full article: SpaceX's Shotwell: https://www.floridatoday.com/story/t...rld/554028002/
    Starlink internet will cost about $10 billion and 'change the world'

    The statements by Shotwell came nearly a month after SpaceX secured critical authorization from the Federal Communications Commission to begin constructing the constellation. SpaceX, the FCC said, must launch 50 percent of its proposed 4,425 satellites by 2024 and fully complete that first phase by 2027.

    "Grant of this application will enable SpaceX to bring high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband service to consumers in the United States and around the world, including areas underserved or currently unserved by existing networks," the FCC said in March.

    The company hopes to launch a second phase of more than 7,500 additional satellites to even lower orbits, which will help reduce latency, or a delay before data transfers begin. Satellites placed into higher orbits typically suffer from high latency due to distances from Earth.

    Testing is well underway, too, thanks to two Starlink prototypes launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base in February as secondary payloads on a Falcon 9 mission known as PAZ. Microsats 2a and 2b were nicknamed "Tintin A & B," CEO Elon Musk said after liftoff, and were expected to beam "hello world" down to Earth as they passed over Los Angeles.

    SpaceX is expected to spend billions on its ambitious goal to construct a massive constellation of internet-beaming satellites that will "change the world," the company's president and chief operating officer said during a conference earlier this month.

    The project, known as Starlink in federal filings, aims to launch thousands of satellites on SpaceX rockets to low Earth orbit that can eventually beam internet connectivity back down, bypassing the need for complicated ground-based infrastructure. Users, according to the federal documents, need only have a laptop-sized terminal to gain connectivity to the constellation of nearly 12,000 minifridge-sized satellites.

    "We actually don't chat very much about this particular project," SpaceX's Gwynne Shotwell said during a newly released Technology, Entertainment, Design discussion, also known as a TED Talk. "This is probably one of the most challenging – if not the most challenging – projects we've undertaken."

    "It'll cost the company about $10 billion or more to deploy this system," she said.
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