Space around planet Earth just got a little more crowded.....
SpaceX Launches 10 New Iridium Satellites, Sticks Rocket Landing
By Calla Cofield, Space.com Senior Writer October 9, 2017
The private spaceflight company SpaceX successfully launched 10 communications satellites into low-Earth orbit today (Oct. 9) and landed the spent Falcon 9 first-stage rocket booster on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT/5:37 a.m. EDT), carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications, as part of the company's Iridium Next constellation. The first stage of the two-stage Falcon 9 landed on SpaceX's drone ship "Just Read the Instructions" in the Pacific about 7.5 minutes after the launch.
"Looks like we've got a good orbit," said John Insprucker, SpaceX's Falcon 9 principal integration engineer, just after the launch during live webcast commentary.
The Iridium Next satellites were deployed 57 minutes after liftoff, with the entire process taking about 15 minutes, according to a SpaceX flight plan.
"We're 10 for 10!" Insprucker said. "A clean sweep of Iridium Next satellite deployment in the desired final orbit."
The Iridium Next constellation will eventually consist of 66 primary satellites and nine on-orbit backup satellites. This is the third of eight scheduled SpaceX launches for the Iridium Next constellation, which brings the total number of satellites now in orbit up to 30.
Today was the first flight of this particular Falcon 9 first-stage booster, a company representative told Space.com. SpaceX has successfully flown Falcon 9 boosters that were previously used, and plans to use a pre-flown booster to launch another communications satellite into orbit on Wednesday(Oct. 11), from NASA's Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Today's mission also marked SpaceX's 14th launch this year and the 17th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage. SpaceX has been reusing Falcon 9 first stages and is pursuing fully reusable rockets in an effort to lower the cost of spaceflight.
Iridium Communications announced earlier this week that it had begun testing and validating its Iridium Certus service, which will utilize the Iridium Next satellites to provide a "truly global broadband service" to its users, according to a statement from the company. The 66 satellites will spread out around the planet to provide service to remote regions of the globe, the company has said.
At an industry conference last spring, Iridium representatives discussed the ways that the satellite constellation could be used to better keep track of airplanes, particularly over open ocean where ground-based tracking systems are unavailable. The commercial service is expected to be available in the "early second quarter" of 2018, according to the statement.
Oh no! CANCELED! Now we gotta go on believin the Earth is ROUND!
'Mad' Mike Hughes cancels rocket launch to prove Earth is flat
USA TODAY NETWORK Sherry Barkas, The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun Published 2:09 p.m. ET Nov. 25, 2017
A man who believes Earth is flat, and was ready to launch himself from a rocket in California on Saturday afternoon to prove it, has canceled his plans. At least for now.
Not having the required federal permits plus mechanical problems with his "motorhome/rocket launcher" forced self-taught rocket scientist "Mad" Mike Hughes to put his experiment on hold.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "told me they would not allow me to do the event ... at least not at that location," Hughes said in a YouTube announcement, amid international attention over his plans to launch into the 'atmosflat.'
"It's been very disappointing," he said.
Hughes is a 61-year-old limo driver who has spent the last few years building a steam-powered rocket out of salvage parts in his garage. His project has cost him $20,000, which includes Rust-Oleum paint to fancy it up and a motor home he bought on Craigslist that he converted into a ramp.
Hughes was set to launch his rocket between 2 and 3 p.m.on Saturday.
Plans had been in the works for more than a year and Hughes said he was initially told by BLM "that it was up to the (Federal Aviation Administration)" to approve the launch. The FAA, Hughes said, told him "We can't honestly approve it, we just know that you are going to do it there."
News of his plans began to spread Monday and gained worldwide attention, which Hughes believes is why BLM began to push for permits.
"My feeling is that one of the top executives at the Bureau of Land Management called Needles, California, saying ... 'What's going on? Who permitted this?'" Hughes said.
Plus, as he and his team were preparing to leave Wednesday, the motorhome/rocket launcher broke down in his driveway, he said.
"We want everyone to please stay tuned," Hughes said, adding he has set up a YouTube page where he will post updates. His plan is to try again next week.
SpaceX to Launch Mysterious Zuma Spacecraft Tonight: Watch It Live
By Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer January 7, 2018
SpaceX plans to launch the secret Zuma payload for the U.S. government this evening (Jan. 7), after a nearly two-month delay.
Zuma is scheduled to lift off atop a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station tonight between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. EST (0100 to 0300 GMT on Jan. 8). You can watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of the company. You can also watch the liftoff directly from SpaceX's live webcast page here.
Sunday's launch will also include a landing attempt by the Falcon 9's first stage, which will come back down to Earth at Landing Zone 1, a SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral. To date, SpaceX has pulled off 20 such first-stage landings, which are part of its push to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets.Zuma is a U.S. government spacecraft headed to low-Earth orbit. But that's pretty much all that outside observers know about it; everyone involved with the mission has remained pretty tight-lipped.
Radiation Will Tear Elon Musk's Rocket Car to Bits in a Year
By Rafi Letzter, Live Science Staff Writer February 7, 2018
A screengrab from the SpaceX live feed shows the Roadster leaving Earth behind. Credit: SpaceX
There's a "midnight cherry" Tesla Roadster hurtling toward deep space right now, the first-ever payload of the Falcon Heavy rocket. It's worth asking why this is happening, and Live Science has. But given that it is happening, it's also worth asking what is going to happen to this electric sportscar condemned to what could be a billion-year elliptical journey through outer space.
The first factor that will determine the Roadster's fate, of course, will be the success or failure of the spacecraft lofting it out of Earth's gravity well.
As Live Science sister site Space.com reported, SpaceX has taken pains to dampen expectations, pointing out the rocket could fail on the launchpad or somewhere in the atmosphere or space. (A few dozen minutes after launch it hasn't failed yet.)
And while Elon Musk is willing to trust his sportscar to the Falcon Heavy, Space.com reported, he's no longer planning to trust it with the liability of human lives. In other words, there's a reasonable chance that the Roadster might meet its end in a quick shower of flames, twisted metal and burnt carbon falling to Earth. [7 Everyday Things That Happen Strangely in Space]
If none of that happens, the next possible fate for the Roadster looks pretty similar, but happens on Mars or somewhere along the way there. As Inverse writer Yasmin Tayag reported, SpaceX has raised the possibility that the car could skim too close to Mars along its orbit and crash into the Red Planet. But what if nothing goes wrong?
What if the rocket works? What if it enters its intended orbit without incident? What if an electric sportscar does end up spending a billion or so years in outer space?
"I'm not so worried about the vacuum itself," said William Carroll, a chemist at Indiana University and expert in plastics and organic molecules.
Human beings tend to experience some pretty grisly effects in vacuum. But that has more to do with our internal pressures no longer getting counteracted by an atmosphere, Carroll said, than any direct effects of the vacuum itself.
Cars just don't have those kinds of internal pressures.
"I might disable the airbag before I send it," Carroll said, "I probably wouldn't fill it with windshield washer fluid."
Deal with that though, along with the pressure in tires, and there isn't much left on the convertible to go pop in a vacuum.
The real forces that will tear the car apart over hundreds of millions of years in space, Carroll said, are solid objects and — most importantly — radiation.
Even if the car avoids any major collisions, over very long time horizons, it's unlikely the vehicle could avoid the kind of collisions with micrometeorites that leave other space junk riddled with craters over time, Carroll said.
But assuming those collisions don't completely tear the car apart, the radiation will.
Down on Earth, a powerful magnetic field and the atmosphere largely protect human beings (and Tesla Roadsters) from the harsh radiation of the sun and cosmic rays. But spacefaring objects have no such protections.
"All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various kinds of radiation that you will run into there," Carroll said.
Organics, in this case, doesn't mean the bits of the car that obviously came out of animals, like its leathers and fabrics. Instead, it includes all the plastics in the sportscar and even its carbon-fiber frame.
"[Those materials] are made up largely of carbon-carbon bonds and carbon-hydrogen bonds," Carroll said.
The energy of stellar radiation can cause those bonds to snap. And that can cause the car to fall to bits as effectively as if it were attacked with a knife.
"When you cut something with a knife, in the end, you're cutting some chemical bonds," Carroll said.
A knife cuts those bonds in a straight line. But radiation will split them at random, causing organic materials from the leather seats to the rubber tires to the paints to — given a long enough time span — perhaps even the carbon fiber body to discolor, flake, and splinter away into space.
And under the harsh glare of the unshielded sun, Carroll said, that process could happen fast.
"Those organics, in that environment, I wouldn't give them a year," he said.
Materials with fewer bonds holding them together will disintegrate first, Carroll said. Anything hidden behind an inorganic (no carbon bonds) shield would last longer, though eventually even the plastic woven into the convertible's glass windshields would discolor and come apart. The sturdy carbon-fiber parts would likely be the last to go, he said, over a much longer span of time.
Eventually, the Roadster would likely be reduced to just its well-secured inorganic parts: the aluminum frame, internal metals and any glass parts that don't shatter under meteor impacts. (The idea that glass melts over long time spans is a myth, he said.)
Richard Sachleben, a retired chemist and member of the American Chemical Society's panel of experts, largely agreed with Carroll's assessment in an email to Live Science — though he did suggest it would likely still be somewhat recognizable, at least after a million years.
"A billion years is a long, LONG time," Sachleben wrote, "so no telling what it will be like by then."
Carroll said that the question of whether the rocket remains recognizable also depends on who is around to recognize it.
"Remember our history with tools as a race only goes back about you know two and a half million years," Carroll said, "so what someone would recognize a million years from now if they found is another story altogether."
Sachleben was more optimistic, writing, "there is always the possibility that some future, space-venturing car enthusiast may decide Elon's Roadster would make a nice addition to his/her collection."
Hah hah hah, oh man how kewl is that? The NASA guys gotta be crappin their pants with envy!! All of those engines had their genesis by Werner von Braun, the German rocket scientist that went to work for Rocketdyne, where later, I met my future wife. She worked in Space Shuttle QA on the SSME engines. The buzz on the street is that all of those Merlin's were derived from designs by ex-Rocketdyne engineers and scientists.
I wonder what that car will go for when somebody nabs it and brings it back for auction? If it actually remains in orbit for a billion years, there'll likely be nothing remaining aside from, possibly, the metals that comprise it, as everything organic...plastic, rubber, nylon, leather, etc, will have deterioted in the extreme, unprotected multi-spectral radiation (including UV) environment. I think Elon Musk plans to bring it back at some juncture. But in any case, it is so kewl. Heh heh heh. :))
What happened to the "Center Core" of Falcon Heavy?
By Editorial Board, Feb 07, 2018
Florida - The Falcon Heavy rocket of SpaceX made a successful launch on February 6 from Kennedy Space Center, with a limited edition of Tesla Roadstar as its payload, playing David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ on repeat.
It is now on course to orbit Mars. Falcon Heavy will travel in an elliptical orbit around the Sun on its way toward Mars.
But the live stream made a critical happening heard by everyone watching the live event.
"We lost the center core."
The component of the rocket was supposed to land on a landing pad of its own. But so far it's not clear if it did.
The two side cores of the rocket carried out extremely well-synchronized landings SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2.
But the critical moment and comment heard during the live feed of the event makes us think that the center core didn't settle on the company’s drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean as planned.
SpaceX didn't confirm yet the loss of the core.
Update: Elon Musk said at a conference that the "center core" ran out of fuel, which kept the core from being able to slow down as much as it needed for landing. Because of that, the core hit the water at 300MPH, 100 meters away from the ship.
The Most Interesting Thing Shot into Space This Week Wasn't a Tesla
By Rafi Letzter, Staff Writer February 9, 2018
There was a second payload on board the SpaceX Falcon Heavy that launched Tuesday (Feb. 6), and (unlike the Tesla Roadster) it's built to last 14 billion years.
SpaceX confirmed during its pre-launch livestream that the gadget, called an Arch, is tucked away somewhere inside the red Tesla Roadster now floating through space. It's a simple-looking object: a clear, thick disk of quartz crystal, about an inch across, with lettering across its face. It could almost be a small business award — best car dealership maybe, or top pizza restaurant — except for the data etched microscopically into its body with powerful, high-frequency lasers.
And that data, or at least the future suggested by that data, is what earned the Arch a ride aboard the Roadster.
Pronounced "ark" as in "archive," it's part of a very Silicon Valley plan to — as technology investor, self-described futurist and Arch Mission Foundation co-founder Nova Spivack explained it to Live Science — create "a self-replicating, meta-level process to perpetuate human civilization."
The Foundation picked the quartz discs for this task because they can store a lot of information very compactly, without degrading much at all over long time spans. Each laser-inscribed point on the disc is just 200 nanometers wide (a bit bigger than a single HIV virus), but can encode six bits of information, Spivack said. And as long as the quartz isn't shattered or blasted with intense waves of radiation, those points should be legible to anyone with the technology to view them — even millions (or perhaps billions) of years in the future.
In a phone interview, Spivack explained that the etched quartz is part of a grand plan to seed the solar system with super-durable data-storage devices containing a vast cultural archive of human civilization.
The outside of the disks will have visible symbols on them, Spivack said, "symbols that say, 'Look, this is interesting.'"
Then, future discs will have tiny images etched into them "like microfilm," he said, big enough to be visible with a good microscope. A future observer who discovers those symbols, the Foundation hopes, will take the time to decode the tiny dots, which will contain huge archives of information.
A photo reveals all five Arch discs created so far, including the one now aboard the Tesla Roadster hurtling through space. Credit: Courtesy of the Arch Foundation
Why do this?
"If you look at the history of civilizations, human civilizations do a very good job of wiping themselves out," Spivack said.
And if that happened today, much of the modern cultural record — stored on degradable magnetic disks and drives and tape — would disappear within a century.
The Arch project's stated goal is to act as a kind of insurance against civilizational catastrophe. Create a durable, redundant record, leave it where future human (or alien) civilizations might find it, and our culture's collective knowledge will never die out.
It's a striking idea, at once utopian, space-age and completely fatalistic — appealing enough to a certain kind of imagination that, according to Spivack, Elon Musk agreed to carry the first Arch into space after hearing about it in a casual Twitter exchange.
Spivack insisted that he's not trying to become the author or curator of this distributed monument to modern society.
"The idea here is to send not just one or two or 10 one-off Archs, but to send millions — maybe billions — of them all across the solar system into all kinds of locations," he said.
The foundation wants to build a lunar Arch library, as well as a Mars library, among many others, and to expand beyond quartz storage into other kinds of long-term data records, including DNA.
Still, for the moment at least, Arch technology remains prohibitively expensive. And in that context Spivack reluctantly acknowledges that the foundation will have to play gatekeeper.
"The Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg (e-books), human genomes and other large open-data sets are the priority," he said.
Later, he hopes to offer small chunks of the record to "donors" — people who pay, he estimated, $20 to $100 in return for the right to place some fragment of data into deep posterity. Those funds, he said, will go into an endowment, which he hopes will fund the foundation long term. Eventually, he said, if the endowment grows big enough, the foundation will give archival rights away for free.
Rather than pick and choose what ideas get preserved at that point, he said, the foundation hopes distributing the power of long-term preservation widely enough will create a truly representative portrait of human society that will live on into deep time.
"We're not going to make difficult censorship decisions because, you know, the internet is open and so is the Arch," he said. "We'll include everything, including the bad stuff, because the bad stuff is also important."
So, what's the point of all this effort? Why go through the trouble to write something down for a far-flung future audience that may never arrive — or, Spivack suggested, might be a silica-eating alien race that consumes the Arch disks as food?
Well, it turns out that building the Arch could be pretty lucrative.
"Some of the things that are being developed certainly have commercial potential," Spivack said.
Right now, the best way to send large amounts of information between Earth and space is via radio signals. But there are some hard bandwith limits on radio, thanks to the speed of light and other issues. Even the internet connection on the multi-billion-dollar ISS in low-Earth orbit is only about as fast as a typical home router. That's fine for the data needs of a small crew, but imagine trying to squeeze all the data needs of a Mars city through that connection, with additional delays due to distance and lightspeed.
If/when humans move into space, Spivack thinks dense, lightweight data-storage devices could become more valuable as ways of transporting, say, the contents of the internet between Earth and Mars. And tech like the quartz disks, which he said could one day hold hundreds of terabytes of information, would be perfect for that task.
Already, he said, there are plans to spin off patents from research groups involved in the Arch project into side companies — companies whose intellectual property rights will in turn fund the foundation.
For the moment though, Spivack said he's focused on getting as much data from "the humanities" up into space as possible. (The foundation, he said, assumes that any civilization that could parse the microscopic data-dots on the disks already understands our sciences.)
And as long as the foundation is playing its reluctant (according to Spivack, at least) curator role, they're acting just like you might expect from a group of Silicon Valley techno-futurists: The first Arch disks produced so far, including the one riding through space on that Tesla Roadster, contain Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy.
Watch launch of TESS planet-hunting mission April 16
By Eleanor Imster in HUMAN WORLD | SPACE | April 15, 2018
TESS will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Lift-off is planned for no earlier than 6:32 p.m. EDT (10:32 p.m. UTC).
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Monday evening (April 16, 2018.) Once in orbit, TESS will spend about two years surveying 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for planets outside our solar system.
To watch the launch, tune in to NASA TV. Lift-off is planned for no earlier than 6:32 p.m. EDT (10:32 UTC). Prelaunch mission coverage will begin on Sunday, April 15, with three live briefings.Watch here:www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#public
According to a NASA statement:
TESS is NASA’s next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, known as exoplanets, including those that could support life. The mission is expected to catalog thousands of planet candidates and vastly increase the current number of known exoplanets. TESS will find the most promising exoplanets orbiting relatively nearby stars, giving future researchers a rich set of new targets for more comprehensive follow-up studies, including the potential to assess their capacity to harbor life.
By Deborah Byrd in HUMAN WORLD | SPACE | April 30, 2018
Blue Origin’s suborbital rocket New Shepard made its 8th test flight on April 29, going up from the company’s launch site in West Texas. Watch mission highlights here.
Blue Origin‘s suborbital rocket ship – New Shepard – flew again for the 8th time this weekend (April 29, 2018), launching from Blue Origin’s West Texas facility. Known as Mission 8 (M8), the mission featured a reflight of the vehicle flown on Mission 7. For the second time, Blue Origin’s test dummy Mannequin Skywalker flew to space. In an email sent last night, Blue Origin said the test dummy was: "… conducting astronaut telemetry and science studies.
The Crew Capsule reached an apogee – greatest distance from Earth – of 351,000 feet (66 miles, 107 km) – the altitude we’ve been targeting for operations.
We look forward to sharing upcoming test flights as we continue our progress toward human spaceflight."
Blue Origin was started in 2000 by Amazon’s founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos on Twitter). Space tourism is one of Blue Origin’s business goals. Like Elon Musk and SpaceX, Bezos wants to change commercial spaceflight by developing reusable rockets to bring costs down. The company’s motto is Gradatim Ferociter! That’s Latin for:
This one is pretty cool. The guy is talking about the sounds you hear during the launch and then also the re-entry of the booster rockets. Even without headphones, it's awesome. You can start watching at about the 3 minute mark to see and hear the launch. Then watch the rest of the way through to hear the sonic booms when the boosters come back. It's spectacular. You can see the boosters land in the small screen, and then consider how far the cameramen are away from the landing pads. It takes a fair bit of time for the sound waves to reach them. But wow! Then you can hear the rocket engine noise of the boosters that were fired to land them.
casper: Skywalker just fixed it. You know what that means. It's doomed.
Apr 29, 2018 19:36:53 GMT -6
skywalker: Very funny, ghost boy
Jun 3, 2018 14:58:58 GMT -6
lois: Casper he should come fix mine. Mine is doomed
Jun 26, 2018 21:54:27 GMT -6
spotless38: Iam back after a long break . What a couple of years I had . After what had happened I lost my brother and had to bury him and then I had caught that type A flue and I was a very sick puppy I also needed blood for the loss of it .
Jul 7, 2018 13:30:41 GMT -6
lois: Very Happy to see you Ron. Missed you. Glad you are doing better now. Sorry for your lost. I did not know your brother had passed. hugs lois
Jul 10, 2018 0:52:45 GMT -6
paulette: Ron - hope you've hit a quiet spot. Sorry for your loss.
Aug 3, 2018 10:49:30 GMT -6
lois: I picked up my phone a few days ago and I looked at the name of the caller. Boy was I surprise. It has been a couple of years. So good to hear your voice Ron. Hope you make it a habit again. love and hugs .
Aug 15, 2018 23:21:38 GMT -6
leia77: Spotless, I am glad that you are feeling better and welcome back! I too am back from a long time away...
Aug 31, 2018 2:08:32 GMT -6
jcurio: I am much relieved to see that you have been on here, Spotless! I hope that things are going much better for you now
Sept 19, 2018 16:46:42 GMT -6
jcurio: And Lois, And Lorelei!
Sept 19, 2018 16:47:07 GMT -6
casper: And Meeeeeee!!
Oct 16, 2018 18:41:31 GMT -6
lois: Sorry guys I cannot see the print. On is tiny hand computer
Oct 21, 2018 20:42:09 GMT -6
lois: Casper your page stops at page five in 2016
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:01 GMT -6
lois: How did your Halloween night go this year?
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:58 GMT -6
skywalker: He posted on the Halloween thread this year.
Nov 25, 2018 18:33:36 GMT -6
lois: Oh ok Sky I will check it out. Thanks.
Dec 21, 2018 21:45:31 GMT -6
lois: What topic was it under.
Dec 21, 2018 21:51:07 GMT -6