SpaceX logo
1 Rocket Rd.
Hawthorne, CA 90250
www.SpaceX.com


NASA NewsNBBD Calendar of Events

About SpaceX

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecraft. With a diverse manifest of 40 launches to deliver commercial and government satellites to orbit, SpaceX is the world's fastest growing launch services provider. In 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to put a spacecraft into orbit and return it safely to Earth. With the retirement of the space shuttle, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft will soon carry cargo, and one day astronauts, to and from the Space Station for NASA. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. The company has over 1,800 employees in California, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Florida.

SpaceX is revolutionizing access to space with a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft designed to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With its Falcon line of launch vehicles, powered by internally-developed Merlin engines, SpaceX offers light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any altitude and inclination, from low-Earth orbit to geosynchronous to planetary missions.

On September 28, 2008, Falcon 1, designed and manufactured from the ground up by SpaceX, became the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth, demonstrating that through simplicity, both reliability and low cost can be achieved in commercial spaceflight.

As a winner of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition (COTS), SpaceX will conduct three flights of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, culminating in Dragon berthing with the ISS. SpaceX is the only COTS contender that has the capability to return cargo and crew to Earth. NASA also has an option to demonstrate crew services to the International Space Station (ISS) using the Falcon 9 / Dragon system.

In addition, NASA selected the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft for the ISS Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) contract award. The contract includes 12 flights between 2010 and 2015 and represents a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS.

Founded in 2002, the SpaceX team now numbers more than 660 full time employees, primarily located in Hawthorne, California, with additional locations in Texas, at SpaceX's Test Facility in McGregor near Waco; offices in Washington DC; and launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific.

SpaceX Careers: Do you want to venture where others have not? If the answer is yes, SpaceX is a great place to continue your career. We're looking for enterprising engineers and production technicians to contribute to our mission to make access to space (earth orbit and beyond) regular, cost-effective and reliable.

Elon's Video Tour of the Cape Canaveral Launch Site, can be viewed here.
SpaceX CEO and CTO Elon Musk gives a tour of the new SpaceX Falcon 9 launch site at Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

SpaceX Launch Pad

SpaceX's Launch Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral across from Titusville, FL
Photo: SpaceXLaunch Pad 40 is the second pad south of
the Shuttle Launch Pads across from Titusville, Florida.


View NASA preview video of Falcon 9/Dragon's May 2012 flight to the ISS



News From SpaceX


SpaceX Webcasts   ••   Local viewing places
Updates on the SpaceX website   ••   SpaceX videos on YouTube

We are hiring.

May 28, 2014

SpaceX Completes Qualification Testing of SuperDraco Thruster

Thruster to Power Revolutionary Launch Escape System on Dragon Spacecraft

SpaceX's SuperDraco test. HAWTHORNE, Calif. ­ Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announced today that it has completed qualification testing for the SuperDraco thruster, an engine that will power the Dragon spacecraft's launch escape system and enable the vehicle to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy.

The qualification testing program took place over the last month at SpaceX's Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas. The program included testing across a variety of conditions including multiple starts, extended firing durations and extreme off-nominal propellant flow and temperatures.

The SuperDraco is an advanced version of the Draco engines currently used by SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to maneuver in orbit and during re-entry.

SuperDracos will be used on the crew version of the Dragon spacecraft as part of the vehicle's launch escape system; they will also enable propulsive landing on land.  Each SuperDraco produces 16,000 pounds of thrust and can be restarted multiple times if necessary.  In addition, the engines have the ability to deep throttle, providing astronauts with precise control and enormous power.

The SuperDraco engine chamber is manufactured using state-of-the-art direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), otherwise known as 3D printing.  The chamber is regeneratively cooled and printed in Inconel, a high-performance superalloy that offers both high strength and toughness for increased reliability.

"Through 3D printing, robust and high-performing engine parts can be created at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional manufacturing methods," said Elon Musk, Chief Designer and CEO.  "SpaceX is pushing the boundaries of what additive manufacturing can do in the 21st century, ultimately making our vehicles more efficient, reliable and robust than ever before."

Unlike previous launch escape systems that were jettisoned after the first few minutes of launch, SpaceX's launch system is integrated into the Dragon spacecraft.  Eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the Dragon spacecraft will produce up to 120,000 pounds of axial thrust to carry astronauts to safety should an emergency occur during launch.

As a result, Dragon will be able to provide astronauts with the unprecedented ability to escape from danger at any point during the ascent trajectory, not just in the first few minutes.  In addition, the eight SuperDracos provide redundancy, so that even if one engine fails an escape can still be carried out successfully.

The first flight demonstration of the SuperDraco will be part of the upcoming pad abort test under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities (CCiCap) initiative. The pad abort will be the first test of SpaceX's new launch escape system and is currently expected to take place later this year.


http://mynews13.com -- May 9, 2014

Saturday's SpaceX rocket launch delayed

By Jerry Hume, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, May 09, 2014, 12:07 PM

SpaceX has delayed a launch scheduled for Saturday, May 10, 2014, of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

CAPE CANAVERAL --  Saturday's planned launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been delayed, satellite maker Orbcomm confirmed Friday.

In a statement on its website, Orbcomm said:
Today's attempt to perform the static firing test was stopped while the rocket was being fueled. Both the OG2 satellites and the rocket are in safe condition and will be rotated horizontal and rolled back into the integration facility.

This will prevent us from launching this weekend. We will keep you posted on when the next launch attempt will take place but it's likely to be later this month.

The rocket is slated to carry six satellites for Orbcomm, a commercial company providing global satellite and cellular services to its own customers, into orbit.


January 6, 2014

SPACEX SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHES THAICOM 6 SATELLITE TO GEOSTATIONARY TRANSFER ORBIT

SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches Thaicom 6 satellite.
THAICOM 6 mission marks second successful GTO flight for the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida ­ Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched the THAICOM 6 satellite for leading Asian satellite operator THAICOM.  Falcon 9 delivered THAICOM 6 to its targeted 295 x 90,000 km geosynchronous transfer orbit at 22.5 degrees inclination.  The Falcon 9 launch vehicle performed as expected, meeting 100% of mission objectives.

Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at 5:06 PM Eastern Time.  Approximately 184 seconds into flight, Falcon 9's second-stage Merlin vacuum engine ignited to begin a five minute, 35 second burn that delivered the THAICOM 6 satellite into its parking orbit. Eighteen minutes after injection into the parking orbit, the second stage engine relit for just over one minute to carry the THAICOM 6 satellite to its final geostationary transfer orbit.  The restart of the Falcon 9 second stage is a requirement for all geostationary transfer missions.

"Today's successful launch of the THAICOM 6 satellite marks the eighth successful flight in a row for Falcon 9," said Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. "SpaceX greatly appreciates THAICOM's support throughout this campaign and we look forward to a busy launch schedule in 2014."

The THAICOM 6 mission marks Falcon 9's second flight to a geosynchronous transfer orbit and begins a regular cadence of launches planned for SpaceX in 2014. SpaceX has nearly 50 launches on manifest, of which over 60% are for commercial customers. This launch also marks the third of three qualification flights needed to certify the Falcon 9 to fly missions under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Once Falcon 9 is certified, SpaceX will be eligible to compete to launch national security satellites for the U.S. Air Force.


Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Facebook Page SpaceX's Falcon on the launch pad
A Falcon 9 rocket will brighten the sky on the east coast during the dramatic SpaceX lift-off targeted for Friday, Jan. 3. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests may view the dusk launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the closest possible public viewing area, or special areas at the Visitor Complex. The rocket will launch from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:50 p.m. EST, carrying a Thaicom 6 telecommunications satellite.

Special viewing areas available to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, located within Kennedy Space Center, for $20 plus the cost of admission.

Located along the Banana River just a few miles from the launch pad, the Apollo/Saturn V viewing area offers the closest public viewing opportunity in Brevard County. This viewing area will feature live launch countdown commentary.

Launch viewing is also available from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and is included in regular admission, featuring live mission control commentary.

https://www.facebook.com/KennedySpaceCenterVisitorComplex

Click for a map of Titusville's Other Great Launch Viewing Sites


December 3, 2013

SPACEX SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES FIRST MISSION TO GEOSTATIONARY TRANSFER ORBIT

Upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle delivers SES-8 satellite to targeted orbit

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida ­ Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully completed its first geostationary transfer mission, delivering the SES-8 satellite to its targeted 295 x 80,000 km orbit.  Falcon 9 executed a picture-perfect flight, meeting 100% of mission objectives.

Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at 5:41 PM Eastern Time.  Approximately 185 seconds into flight, Falcon 9's second stage's single Merlin vacuum engine ignited to begin a five minute, 20 second burn that delivered the SES-8 satellite into its parking orbit. Eighteen minutes after injection into the parking orbit, the second stage engine relit for just over one minute to carry the SES-8 satellite to its final geostationary transfer orbit.  The restart of the Falcon 9 second stage is a requirement for all geostationary transfer missions.

"The successful insertion of the SES-8 satellite confirms the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle delivers to the industry's highest performance standards," said Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Designer of SpaceX.   "As always, SpaceX remains committed to delivering the safest, most reliable launch vehicles on the market today.  We appreciate SES's early confidence in SpaceX and look forward to launching additional SES satellites in the years to come."

Today's mission marked SpaceX's first commercial launch from its central Florida launch pad and the first commercial flight from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in over five years.  SpaceX has nearly 50 launches on manifest, of which over 60% are for commercial customers.

This launch also marks the second of three certification flights needed to certify the Falcon 9 to fly missions for the U.S. Air Force under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. When Falcon 9 is certified, SpaceX will be eligible to compete for all National Security Space (NSS) missions.

December 3, 2013 upgraded Falcon 9 launch.
Upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle delivers SES-8 satellite to targeted orbit.

A picture-perfect Falcon9 launch
A picture-perfect Falcon9 launch.


August 14, 2012
SpaceX's Grasshopper divert test flight video
Click image above to watch the video.

Falcon 9 / Grasshopper Divert Test Flight

On August 13th, the Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) completed a divert test, flying to a 250m altitude with a 100m lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad. The test demonstrated the vehicle's ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights.

Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity.  


August 8, 2013

SpaceX is Awarded Launch of German Radar Reconnaissance Satellite System

Falcon 9 rockets will deliver three-satellite SARah Constellation that will serve German Ministry of Defense

Hawthorne, CA ­ Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will provide the launch services for Germany's second-generation radar reconnaissance satellite system. The satellites, provided by OHB System AG and Astrium GmbH, will replace the current constellation and will be delivered to orbit by two Falcon 9 rockets in 2018 and 2019.

"SpaceX looks forward to working with OHB and Astrium, and we appreciate their confidence in SpaceX to reliably deliver these satellites to orbit," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and COO. "These missions are very meaningful for SpaceX as the first contracted for a European government."

OHB will build two passive-antenna synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites, and Astrium GmbH will build a larger, phased-array-antenna satellite under contract for OHB. The three-satellite constellation will replace the current OHB-built five-satellite SAR-Lupe constellation.


July 30, 2013

SpaceX Awarded Launch Reservation Contract for Largest Canadian Space Program

Falcon 9 Rocket Will Deliver RADARSAT Constellation to Orbit

Hawthorne, CA ­ Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) was awarded a launch reservation contract with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) to support the largest space program to date in Canada, carrying the three satellites to orbit that will make up the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) on a Falcon 9 rocket in 2018.

"SpaceX appreciates MDA's confidence in our ability to safely and reliably transport their satellites," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and COO. "We hope this agreement is the second of many with MDA."

RCM is a three satellite configuration and will support Canada's need for maritime surveillance, disaster management and ecosystem monitoring. The mission will build on the successes of RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2.

SpaceX will conduct its first mission for MDA. this year, launching the CASSIOPE satellite on a Falcon 9.

About SpaceX
SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. Today, SpaceX is advancing the boundaries of space technology through its Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. The company has more than 3,000 employees in California, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Florida. For more information, visit www.spacex.com .


SpaceX awarded second phase certification products contracts (CPC) by NASA.
Click for NASA Press Release.


Click for YouTube video of SpaceX Grasshopper 12-Story Test Flight 12/17/12
Jan 11, 2013
SpaceX's Grasshopper takes a 12-story leap towards full and rapid rocket reusability in a test flight conducted December 17, 2012 at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Grasshopper, a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (VTVL), rose 131 feet (40 meters), hovered and landed safely on the pad using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control.

The total test duration was 29 seconds. Grasshopper stands 10 stories tall and consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage, Merlin 1D engine, four steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.

Click here to view the YouTube video of the flight.


SPACEX AWARDED TWO EELV-CLASS MISSIONS FROM THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

(Hawthorne, CA) -- The United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded SpaceX two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)-class missions:  DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) and STP-2 (Space Test Program 2). To be launched on SpaceX's Falcon launch vehicles in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the awards mark the first EELV-class missions awarded to the company to date.

"SpaceX deeply appreciates and is honored by the vote of confidence shown by the Air Force in our Falcon launch vehicles," said Elon Musk, CEO and chief designer, SpaceX. "We look forward to providing high reliability access to space with lift capability to orbit that is substantially greater than any other launch vehicle in the world."

The DSCOVR mission will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 and is currently slated for late 2014, while STP-2 will be launched aboard the Falcon Heavy and is targeted for mid-2015. Both are expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Both missions fall under Orbital/Suborbital Program-3 (OSP-3), an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the US Air Force Rocket Systems Launch Program. OSP-3 represents the first Air Force contract designed to provide new entrants to the EELV program an opportunity to demonstrate their vehicle capabilities.

The two missions will support the EELV certification process for both the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in the world, is expected to take its first flight in the second half of 2013. Building on reliable flight proven architecture, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles are designed for exceptional reliability, meeting the stringent U.S. Air Force requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.


SPACEX TESTS GRASSHOPPER ROCKET IN TWO-STORY HOP

On November 1, 2012, SpaceX's Grasshopper ­ a 10-story vertical takeoff and landing (VTVL) vehicle -- lifted nearly two stories in an 8-second duration test hop. The rocket rose 17.7 feet (5.4 meters), hovered, and touched back down safely on the pad at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.

Click for a video of the Grasshopper test flight.

The Grasshopper program is a critical step toward achieving SpaceX's goal of developing fully and rapidly reusable rockets. With Grasshopper, SpaceX engineers are testing the technology that would allow a launched rocket to land intact, rather than burning up upon reentry to Earth's atmosphere.

SpaceX preliminary testing of a rocket that will land intact.
Photo: SpaceX

Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage, Merlin 1D engine, four steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure. For a sense of its scale, note the blue pick-up truck to the left of Grasshopper in the photo above.


SPACEX DRAGON SUCCESSFULLY ATTACHES TO SPACE STATION

October 10, 2012

Hawthorne, CA -- For the second time this year, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is at the International Space Station. Expedition 33 crew members Akihiko Hoshide and Sunita Williams today grappled Dragon and attached it to the station, completing a critical stage of the SpaceX CRS-1 cargo resupply mission.

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft berthed to the International Space Station. Hoshide used the station's robotic arm to capture Dragon and guide it to the station's Harmony module, and then Expedition 33 Commander Williams installed Dragon to Harmony's common berthing mechanism, enabling it to be bolted in place for an expected 18-day stay at the station.

Upon capture, Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA remarked, "Looks like we've tamed the Dragon." Grappling was complete at 6:56AM ET, and at 9:03AM ET Dragon was attached to the space station.

"This is a big moment in the course of this mission and for commercial spaceflight," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Technical Officer Elon Musk. "We are pleased that Dragon is now ready to deliver its cargo to the International Space Station."

Next, the station crew will pressurize the vestibule between the station and Dragon and open the hatch that leads to the forward bulkhead of the spacecraft. The crew will then begin unloading Dragon's cargo, which includes crew supplies, vehicle hardware, experiments, and an ultra-cold freezer for storing scientific samples.

The mission, designated SpaceX CRS-1, is the first of at least 12 that SpaceX will perform under NASA's $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract. Only SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is capable of both carrying significant amounts of cargo to the station and returning cargo to Earth.

Dragon is expected to be released from the space station on October 28 with return cargo that will include used station hardware and more than a ton of scientific samples. Splashdown and recovery in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California will follow the same day.


SPACEX CRS-1 MISSION UPDATE

October 8, 2012

The Dragon spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station this morning and is performing nominally following the launch of the SpaceX CRS-1 official cargo resupply mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:35PM ET Sunday, October 7, 2012.
Falcon 9 rocket readying for launch.
Falcon 9 First Stage and Second Stage
The Falcon 9 rocket, showing six of its nine Merlin engines, while waiting for its launch on October 7, 2012.
Credit: SpaceX

Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night's launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket's nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued. We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Panels designed to relieve pressure within the engine bay were ejected to protect the stage and other engines.  Our review of flight data indicates that neither the rocket stage nor any of the other eight engines were negatively affected by this event.

As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon's entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS. This was achieved, and there was no effect on Dragon or the cargo resupply mission.

Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do. Like the Saturn V (which experienced engine loss on two flights) and modern airliners, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission. No other rocket currently flying has this ability.

It is worth noting that Falcon 9 shuts down two of its engines to limit acceleration to 5 g's even on a fully nominal flight. The rocket could therefore have lost another engine and still completed its mission.

We will continue to review all flight data in order to understand the cause of the anomaly, and will devote the resources necessary to identify the problem and apply those lessons to future flights. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Dragon is expected to begin its approach to the station on October 10, where it will be grappled and berthed by Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA. Over the following weeks, the crew will unload Dragon's payload and reload it with cargo to be returned to Earth. Splashdown is targeted for October 28.

For additional updates on the SpaceX CRS-1 Mission, visit spacex.com.


October 7, 2012

SPACEX LAUNCHES FIRST OFFICIAL CARGO RESUPPLY MISSION TO SPACE STATION

Falcon 9 and Dragon Liftoff
Falcon 9 and Dragon Liftoff
Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Fl. October 7, 2012.
Credit: SpaceX
Cape Canaveral, FL -- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) today successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The SpaceX CRS-1 mission marks the first of at least 12 SpaceX missions to the space station under the company's cargo resupply contract with NASA. On board the Dragon spacecraft are materials to support investigations planned for the station's Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies and space station hardware.

Dragon -- the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth -- will return with scientific materials and space station hardware.

The Falcon 9 rocket, powered by nine Merlin engines, performed nominally today during every phase of its approach to orbit, including two stage separations, solar array deployment, and the final push of Dragon into its intended orbit. Dragon will now chase the space station before beginning a series of burns that will bring it into close proximity to the station. If all goes well, Dragon will attach to the complex on October 10 and spend over two weeks there before an expected return to Earth on October 28.

"We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission," said Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Technical Officer, SpaceX. "We still have a lot of work to do, of course, as we guide Dragon's approach to the space station. But the launch was an unqualified success."

The CRS-1 mission follows a historic demonstration flight last May when SpaceX's Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to attach to the space station, exchange cargo, and return safely to Earth. The flight signaled restoration of American capability to resupply the space station, not possible since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.


GRASSHOPPER TAKES ITS FIRST HOP

On Friday, September 21, SpaceX's Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) took its first test flight hop from the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas.

Click here to see a brief YouTube video of Grasshopper's first test flight hop.

The short hop of approximately 6 feet is the first major milestone for Grasshopper, and a critical step toward a reusable first stage for SpaceX's proven Falcon 9 rocket. As seen in the video, Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 first stage, a Merlin-1D engine, four steel landing legs, and a steel support structure.

SpaceX is working to develop vehicles that are fully and rapidly reusable, a key element to radically reducing cost and increasing the efficiency of spaceflight.

Testing of Grasshopper continues, with the next big milestone ­ a hover at roughly 100 feet -- expected in the next several months.


OCTOBER 7 ANNOUNCED AS TARGET LAUNCH DATE FOR SPACE STATION MISSION

NASA and SpaceX have announced October 7, 2012 as the target launch date for SpaceX's first resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for 8:34 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral, Florida. October 8 is the backup date.

The launch represents the first of 12 SpaceX flights to the ISS under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, and follows a successful demonstration mission in May when SpaceX became the first private company ever to attach to the ISS and return safely to Earth.

The SpaceX CRS-1 mission also represents restoration of American capability to deliver and return cargo to the ISS—a feat not achievable since the retirement of the space shuttle. SpaceX is also contracted to develop Dragon to send crew to the space station. SpaceX's first manned flight is expected to take place in 2015.

On this mission, Dragon will be filled with supplies, which include materials to support 166 experiments in plant cell biology, human biotechnology, and materials technology. One experiment will examine the effects of microgravity on the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans, which is present on all humans. Another will evaluate how microgravity affects the growth of cell walls in a plant called Arabidopsis.

Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will use a robotic arm to grapple Dragon following its rendezvous with the station, expected on October 10. They will attach Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module for a few weeks while crew members unload cargo and load experiment samples for return to Earth.

Dragon is scheduled to return in late October for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. Dragon will fly back carrying scientific materials and space station hardware.

Best Launch Viewing Sites


NASA SELECTS SPACEX TO RETURN AMERICANS TO SPACE

  (Hawthorne, CA) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) today won a $440 million contract with NASA to develop the successor to the Space Shuttle and transport American astronauts into space.

"This is a decisive milestone in human spaceflight and sets an exciting course for the next phase of American space exploration," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk. "SpaceX, along with our partners at NASA, will continue to push the boundaries of space technology to develop the safest, most advanced crew vehicle ever flown."

SpaceX expects to undertake its first manned flight by 2015 – a timetable that capitalizes on the proven success of the company's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft combination. While Dragon is initially being used to transport cargo to the International Space Station, both Dragon and Falcon 9 were designed from the beginning to carry crew.

Under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative's base period, SpaceX will make the final modifications necessary to prepare Dragon to safely transport astronauts into space. These include:  

SpaceX will perform stringent safety and mission-assurance analyses to demonstrate that all these systems meet NASA requirements.

With a minimal number of stage separations, all-liquid rocket engines that can be throttled and turned off in an emergency, engine-out capability during ascent, and powered abort capability all the way to orbit, the Falcon 9-Dragon combination will be the safest spacecraft ever developed.


SpaceX's Merlin 1D Engine Achieves Full Mission Duration Firing

SpaceX's Merlin 1D Engine firing. Hawthorne, CA – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces that its Merlin 1D engine has achieved a full mission duration firing and multiple restarts at target thrust and specific impulse (Isp).

The engine firing was for 185 seconds with 147,000 pounds of thrust, the full duration and power required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch. The tests took place at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.

"This is another important milestone in our efforts to push the boundaries of space technology," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk. "With the Merlin 1D powering the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, SpaceX will be capable of carrying a full range of payloads to orbit."

Watch the Merlin 1D full duration firing video here: http://youtu.be/976LHTpnZkY  The Merlin 1D builds on the proven technology of the Merlin engines used on the first three flights of Falcon 9, including the recent historic mission to the International Space Station.

With nine Merlins on the first stage, the Falcon 9 rocket will produce nearly 1.5 million pounds of thrust in a vacuum. An enhanced design makes the Merlin 1D the most efficient booster engine ever built, with a vacuum thrust-to-weight ratio exceeding 150, while still maintaining the structural and thermal safety margins needed to carry astronauts.

Additionally, as SpaceX continues to fulfill an extensive manifest of launches, the new engine is designed for improved manufacturability by using higher efficiency processes, increased robotic construction and reduced parts count.

The Merlin 1D engines will first see flight on Falcon 9 Flight 6, expected to launch in 2013.


May 31, 2012 SpaceX's Dragon splash-down

The Dragon Has Landed

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Safely Completes Historic Mission to the Space Station

This morning, at approximately 8:42 AM Pacific/11:42 AM Eastern, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) completed its historic mission when the Dragon spacecraft splashed down safely in the Pacific.  The vehicle will now be recovered by boats and start the trip back to land.

At 11:00 AM Pacific/2:00 PM Eastern, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk will join NASA Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini and NASA COTS Program Manager Alan Lindenmoyer for a press conference to discuss today's exciting events.

Last week, SpaceX made history when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station.  Previously only four governments – the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency – had achieved this challenging technical feat.  Dragon departed the space station this morning.

This is SpaceX's second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station.


Intelsat Signs First Commercial Falcon Heavy Launch Agreement with SpaceX

Advanced Vehicle Provides Expanded Options for Operator of the World's Largest Satellite Fleet

Washington, DC / Hawthorne, CA  May 29, 2012 - Today, Intelsat, the world's leading provider of satellite services, and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the world's fastest growing space launch company, announced the first commercial contract for the Falcon Heavy rocket.

"SpaceX is very proud to have the confidence of Intelsat, a leader in the satellite communication services industry," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer.  "The Falcon Heavy has more than twice the power of the next largest rocket in the world.  With this new vehicle, SpaceX launch systems now cover the entire spectrum of the launch needs for commercial, civil and national security customers."

"Timely access to space is an essential element of our commercial supply chain," said Thierry Guillemin, Intelsat CTO.  "As a global leader in the satellite sector, our support of successful new entrants to the commercial launch industry reduces risk in our business model.  Intelsat has exacting technical standards and requirements for proven flight heritage for our satellite launches.  We will work closely with SpaceX as the Falcon Heavy completes rigorous flight tests prior to our future launch requirements." This is the first commercial contract for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.  Under the agreement, an Intelsat satellite will be launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

To SpaceX's Falcon Heavy website.

About the Falcon Heavy
Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in the world and historically is second only to the Apollo-era Saturn V moon rocket.   Capable of lifting 53 metric tons (117,000 pounds) to low Earth orbit and over 12 metric tons (26,000 pounds) to GTO, Falcon Heavy will provide more than twice the performance to low Earth orbit of any other launch vehicle.  This will allow SpaceX to launch the largest satellites ever flown and will enable new missions.  Building on the reliable flight proven architecture of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, Falcon Heavy is also designed for exceptional reliability.  The vehicle is designed to meet both NASA human rating standards as well as the stringent U.S. Air Force requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, making it an attractive solution for commercial, civil and military customers.

About SpaceX
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecraft.  With a diverse manifest of 40 launches to deliver commercial and government satellites to orbit, SpaceX is the world's fastest growing launch services provider.  In 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to put a spacecraft into orbit and return it safely to Earth.  With the retirement of the space shuttle, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are carrying cargo, and one day astronauts, to and from the space station for NASA.  Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. The company has over 1,800 employees in California, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Florida. For more information, visit www.SpaceX.com.

About Intelsat
Intelsat is the leading provider of satellite services worldwide. For over 45 years, Intelsat has been delivering information and entertainment for many of the world's leading media and network companies, multinational corporations, Internet Service Providers and governmental agencies. Intelsat's satellite, teleport and fiber infrastructure is unmatched in the industry, setting the standard for transmissions of video, data and voice services. From the globalization of content and the proliferation of High Definition, to the expansion of cellular networks and broadband access, with Intelsat, advanced communications anywhere in the world are closer, by far.  For more information about Intelsat, visit www.intelsat.com.  Intelsat is the world's leading provider of fixed satellite services. With Intelsat, advanced communications anywhere in the world are closer, by far.


Coming Up:  Astronauts Open Dragon's Hatch

Today Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to visit the International Space Station.  Following today's successful capture and berthing activities, astronauts aboard the International Space Station will open Dragon's hatch to begin unloading supplies.  Live coverage of the hatch opening, including some of the first video from inside Dragon, will begin Saturday at approximately 3:00 AM PT/ 6:00 AM ET on www.spacex.com .  Times are subject to change so please check the website for updates.
Inside Dragon  spacecraft at ISS.
First look inside the Dragon spacecraft, currently attached to the International Space Station

If you missed it live, you can watch the post-berthing press conference with NASA and Elon Musk here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjuvIlskUf4


SpaceX Makes History

Dragon Becomes First Commercial Spacecraft to Attach to the Space Station

Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) made history when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station.  Previously only four governments – the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency – had achieved this challenging technical feat.

The vehicle was grappled by the station's robotic arm at 9:56 a.m. Eastern.  Dragon's passive common berthing mechanism successfully attached to the orbiting laboratory at 12:02 p.m Eastern.  

SpaceX mission control. SpaceX Dragon at ISS SpaceX Dragon near birth with ISS SpaceX Dragon birthed to ISS
Mission control at the
moment of grapple
Dragon at station Dragon heads to berth (attach)
to the station
Dragon is berthed to station!
Click on picture to open an enlargement in a new window.

When asked for his initial thoughts on Dragon's capture and move into the history books, Elon Musk stated, "just awesome." Broadcast quality videos, including video inside of the SpaceX factory, may be downloaded at vimeo.com/spacexlaunch.  For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv. High-resolution photos are posted at spacexlaunch.zenfolio.com.

SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk will join NASA Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini, NASA COTS Program Manager Alan Lindenmoyer and NASA Flight Director Holly Ridings  for a press conference to discuss the remarkable achievement at 1:00 PM Eastern.

This is SpaceX's second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed; by their very nature, they carry a significant risk. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again.

Mission Highlights:


SpaceX to Webcast Dragon's Visit Space Station

SpaceX is planning to webcast Dragon's historic attempt to visit the space station live tomorrow morning starting at approximately 4:30 AM PT / 7:30 AM ET. Times may change so check back for updates. 

ISS astronauts watch Falcon/Dragon Launch - 5/24/12
Astronauts aboard the space station watching the Falcon 9/Dragon launch!  Credit: ESA/NASA


SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Completes Key Tests In Quest to Visit Space Station

Most Difficult Challenges Still Ahead

May 24, 2012

Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft completed key on-orbit tests as part of a historic attempt to be the first commercial company in history to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.

In the days since SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the vehicle has steadily completed one task after another as it prepares to berth with the International Space Station. Only minutes after the spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage, its solar arrays successfully deployed, providing power to the spacecraft. The door that had been covering sensors needed for proximity operations opened successfully.

On Tuesday and Wednesday Dragon traveled in orbit, firing its thrusters to catch up to the space station. During that time, the vehicle hit a series of milestones. Dragon showed its Absolute Global Positioning System (GPS) is in good working order. The vehicle demonstrated both a pulsed and a full abort. It also demonstrated free drift, floating freely in orbit as it will when grappled by the space station's robotic arm. And its proximity operations sensors and SpaceX's COTS UHF Communication Unit (CUCU) are up and running.

View of Dragon from the ISS 5/24/12 View of ISS from the Dragon 5/24/12
View of the Dragon spacecraft as taken by a camera on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA Image of the International Space Station taken by the Dragon spacecraft's thermal imager. Credit: SpaceX

Early this morning, Dragon's thrusters fired, bringing the vehicle 2.4 kilometers below the International Space Station. The vehicle completed two key tests at that distance. Dragon demonstrated its Relative GPS and established a communications link with the International Space Station using CUCU. Astronauts commanded on Dragon's strobe light to confirm the link worked.

A video of Dragon as seen by the space station is available at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=144472261

With these tests complete, Dragon has started the trip flying around the space station, returning the spacecraft to its original approach location.

Dragon has been performing well, but the most difficult aspects of the mission are still ahead.

FRIDAY MORNING - Final Approach, Dragon Grapple

Around 2:00 AM Pacific/5:00 AM Eastern NASA will decide if Dragon is GO to move into the approach ellipsoid 1.4 kilometers around the space station. If Dragon is GO, after approximately one hour Dragon will move to a location 250 meters directly below the station. Dragon will then perform a series of maneuvers to show systems are operating as expected. If NASA is satisfied with the results of these many tests, Dragon will be allowed to perform the final approach to the space station.

Sometime around 6:00 AM Pacific/9:00 AM Eastern, astronauts on the space station will grapple Dragon with the space station's robotic arm and the spacecraft will attach to the station.  

SATURDAY MORNING - Hatch Opening

If all goes well, at approximately 2:00 AM Pacific/5:00 AM Eastern, the crew will start procedures to open Dragon's hatch. It will take around 2 hours to complete all operations leading to the hatch opening. Once the hatch is opened, astronauts will enter Dragon for the first time in space.

All dates and times are approximate and could easily change.

This is SpaceX's second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed; by their very nature, they carry a significant risk. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again.


Statement from the White House on the Falcon 9 Launch

Posted by Phil Larson on May 22, 2012 at 04:18 AM EDT

Following Tuesday's launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, issued the following statement:

Statement by John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, on Launch of Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon Spacecraft

"Congratulations to the teams at SpaceX and NASA for this morning's successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Every launch into space is a thrilling event, but this one is especially exciting because it represents the potential of a new era in American spaceflight. Partnering with U.S. companies such as SpaceX to provide cargo and eventually crew service to the International Space Station is a cornerstone of the President's plan for maintaining America's leadership in space. This expanded role for the private sector will free up more of NASA's resources to do what NASA does best -- tackle the most demanding technological challenges in space, including those of human space flight beyond low Earth orbit. I could not be more proud of our NASA and SpaceX scientists and engineers, and I look forward to following this and many more missions like it."


Successful Launch Kicks off SpaceX's Historic Mission

 SpaceX's Mission patch for COTS 2 mission. Hawthorne, CA – Today (May 22, 2012), Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft to orbit in an exciting start to the mission that will make SpaceX the first commercial company in history to attempt to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station – something only a handful of governments have ever accomplished.

At 3:44 a.m. Eastern, the Falcon 9 carrying Dragon launched from SpaceX's launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Now Dragon heads toward the International Space Station. On that journey it will be subjected to a series of tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the station.

Broadcast quality videos, including video inside of the SpaceX factory, may be downloaded at vimeo.com/spacexlaunch and high-resolution photos are posted at spacexlaunch.zenfolio.com.

At a press conference held after the launch, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk began, "I would like to start off by saying what a tremendous honor it has been to work with NASA. And to acknowledge the fact that we could not have started SpaceX, nor could we have reached this point without the help of NASAŠ It's really been an honor to work with such great people."

The vehicle's first stage performed nominally before separating from the second stage. The second stage successfully delivered the Dragon spacecraft into its intended orbit. This marks the third consecutive successful Falcon 9 launch and the fifth straight launch success for SpaceX.

"We obviously have to go through a number of steps to berth with the Space Station, but everything is looking really good and I think I would count today as a success no matter what happens with the rest of the mission," Musk said.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch - May 22, 2012
Liftoff
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket's 9 engines ignite during launch from the SpaceX launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, May 22, 2012.
Credit: SpaceX
He continued by expressing his gratitude to the more than 1,800 SpaceX employees. "People have really given it their all." Describing the scene inside of SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, he said, "We had most of the company gathered around SpaceX Mission Control. They are seeing the fruits of their labor and wondering if it is going to work. There is so much hope riding on that rocket. When it worked, and Dragon worked, and the solar arrays deployed, people saw their handiwork in space operating as it should. There was tremendous elation. For us it is like winning the Super Bowl."

Explaining the significance of the day, Musk stated, "This mission heralds the dawn of a new era of space exploration, one in which there is a significant commercial space element. It is like the advent of the Internet in the mid-1990s when commercial companies entered what was originally a government endeavor. That move dramatically accelerated the pace of advancement and made the Internet accessible to the mass market. I think we're at a similar inflection point for space. I hope and I believe that this mission will be historic in marking that turning point towards a rapid advancement in space transportation technology."

This is SpaceX's second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed; by their very nature, they carry a significant risk. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again.

Mission Highlights: During the mission, Dragon must perform a series of complex tasks, each presenting significant technical challenges (dates subject to change):


SpaceX Launch Attempt Set for 3:44 AM Eastern on Tuesday, May 22nd

Tomorrow's Launch from Cape Canaveral Would Set the Stage for Historic Test Flight
First Ever Attempt by a Private Company to Send a Spacecraft to the International Space Station

Hawthorne, CA – Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 22nd, at 3:44 AM Eastern, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft to orbit in an exciting start to the mission that will make SpaceX the first commercial company in history to try to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Sending a spacecraft to the space station has only ever been accomplished by four entities – the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Union.

Saturday's launch was aborted when the flight computer detected slightly high pressure in the engine 5 combustion chamber. During rigorous inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine. The failed valve was replaced on Saturday and after thorough analysis the vehicle has been cleared for launch.

SpaceX will webcast the launch live at www.SpaceX.com starting at 3:00 AM Eastern.

After launch, NASA will host a press conference that will include SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and President Gwynne Shotwell. It will be live on NASA TV or webcast at www.NASA.gov/ntv.

Detailed information on the mission is available in the SpaceX launch press kit: http://www.spacex.com/downloads/COTS-2-Press-Kit-5-14-12.pdf

Throughout the mission high-resolution photos will be posted at spacexlaunch.zenfolio.com and broadcast quality videos will be posted at vimeo.com/spacexlaunch.

Mission Highlights: During the mission, Dragon must perform a series of complex tasks, each presenting significant technical challenges (dates subject to change):

This is SpaceX's second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. The purpose of the flight is to provide NASA and SpaceX with flight data needed to ensure successful future missions to the space station. Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed and – by their very nature – carry a significant risk. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again.


Update on SpaceX COTS 2 Test Launch

May 19, 2012

Today's COTS 2 Demonstration launch was aborted half a second before liftoff when the flight computer detected slightly high pressure in the engine 5 combustion chamber. We have discovered root cause and repairs are underway.

During rigorous inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine. We are now in the process of replacing the failed valve. Those repairs should be complete tonight. We will continue to review data on Sunday. If things look good, we will be ready to attempt to launch on Tuesday, May 22nd at 3:44 AM Eastern.

The next launch attempt will be webcast live at www.spacex.com.

May 19, 2012 -- From the SpaceX website:

Today, SpaceX aborted the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. Due to the instantaneous launch window, we are not able to recycle and re-attempt the launch today.

Early data indicates that the flight computer detected slightly high combustion chamber pressure on engine 5, which prompted the computer to abort the countdown. We are reviewing the data.

NASA and SpaceX will hold a briefing at 6:30 AM. Watch it live at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.


May 10, 2012

SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace Join Forces to Offer Crewed Missions to Private Space Stations

Hawthorne, CA, and Las Vegas, NV– Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Bigelow Aerospace (BA) have agreed to conduct a joint marketing effort focused on international customers. The two companies will offer rides on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, using the Falcon launch vehicle to carry passengers to Bigelow habitats orbiting the Earth.

According to Bigelow Aerospace's President and Founder, Robert T. Bigelow, "We're very excited to be working with our colleagues at SpaceX to present the unique services that our two companies can offer to international clientele. We're eager to join them overseas to discuss the substantial benefits that BA 330 leasing can offer in combination with SpaceX transportation capabilities".

The BA 330 is a habitat that will provide roughly 330 cubic meters of usable volume and can support a crew of up to six. Bigelow Aerospace plans to connect two or more BA 330s in orbit to provide national space agencies, companies, and universities with unparalleled access to the microgravity environment.

"SpaceX and BA have a lot in common. Both companies were founded to help create a new era in space enterprise," said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. "Together we will provide unique opportunities to entities -- whether nations or corporations -- wishing to have crewed access to the space environment for extended periods. I'm looking forward to working with Bigelow Aerospace and engaging with international customers," Shotwell explained.

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will be capable of carrying seven passengers to orbit. With the company's Falcon family of rockets, SpaceX is working to create the world's safest human spaceflight system.

The companies will kick off their marketing effort in Asia. Representatives from Bigelow and SpaceX will meet with officials in Japan shortly after the next launch of the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft.

  About SpaceX
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecraft. With a diverse manifest of launches to deliver commercial and government satellites to orbit, SpaceX is the world's fastest growing space launch company. In 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to put a spacecraft into orbit and return it safely to Earth. With the retirement of the space shuttle, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft will soon carry cargo and astronauts to and from the International Space Station for NASA. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from the Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. The company has over 1,700 employees in California, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Florida. For more information, visit spacex.com.

About Bigelow Aerospace
Bigelow Aerospace is an entrepreneurial company dedicated to revolutionizing space commerce and exploration via the development of next-generation expandable habitat technology. Bigelow Aerospace's habitats will offer unprecedented amounts of volume on-orbit while providing astronauts with enhanced protection against radiation and physical debris. Bigelow habitats are also lighter and more affordable than traditional rigidized metallic structures. Bigelow Aerospace is the first and only organization to demonstrate expandable habitat technology in orbit, via the successful launch of Genesis I in 2006 and Genesis II in 2007. Bigelow Aerospace has manufacturing facilities and offices in Nevada and Maryland. For more information, visit bigelowaerospace.com.


SpaceX to Webcast Static Fire for Upcoming Mission on Monday

Mission Would Make SpaceX the First Commercial Company to Attempt to Send a Spacecraft to the International Space Station

SpaceX Falcon 9 ready for launch near Titusville, FL Hawthorne, CA (4/27/2012) — On Monday, April 30, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will webcast a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket's nine powerful Merlin engines in preparation for the company's upcoming launch. The webcast, available at spacex.com, is set to begin at 2:30 PM ET/ 11:30 AM PT, with the actual static fire targeted for 3:00 PM ET/ 12:00 PM PT.

The 9 engine test will take place at the company's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as part of a full launch dress rehearsal leading up to the second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) launch. During the rehearsal, SpaceX engineers will run through all countdown processes as though it were launch day. The exercise will end with all nine engines firing at full power for two seconds.

After the test, SpaceX will conduct a thorough review of all data as engineers make final preparations for the upcoming launch, currently targeted for May 7. SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket. During the mission, Dragon's sensors and flight systems will be subject to a series of tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station. If NASA decides Dragon is ready, the vehicle will attach to the station and astronauts will open Dragon's hatch and unload the cargo onboard.

This will be the first attempt by a commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, a feat previously performed by only a few governments. Success is not guaranteed. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again. It is also the second demonstration flight under NASA's program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station.

The first SpaceX COTS flight, in December 2010, made SpaceX the first commercial company in history to send a spacecraft to orbit and return it safely to Earth. Once SpaceX demonstrates the ability to carry cargo to the space station, it will begin to fulfill its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for NASA for at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the space station. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward this goal.

SpaceX also plans to broadcast the entire launch live at spacex.com on launch day.


NASA, SPACEX ANNOUNCE NASA SOCIAL FOR FALCON 9 LAUNCH ATTEMPT
Read the NASA Press Release


SpaceX Announces Independent Safety Advisory Panel for Commercial Crew

Industry Leaders Lend Expertise As Company Prepares for Astronaut Flights

Hawthorne, CA – Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), one of the leading private companies working to restore America's ability to carry astronauts to the Space Station, announced it has assembled a team of outside experts to help the company create the world's safest human spaceflight system.

"When it comes to manned spaceflight, safety is our top priority," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer, Elon Musk. "These experts will provide us with important insights as we prepare to carry astronauts on the next generation of American spacecraft."

The independent Safety Advisory Panel is composed of leading human spaceflight safety experts, including several former NASA astronauts and senior NASA officials. The panel will provide objective assessments of the safety of the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to help SpaceX maintain the highest level of safety.

Among the experts joining the SpaceX Safety Advisory Panel are:

The panel will convene in the fall of 2012 and will continue its work well after SpaceX begins flying people to space.

About the Members:

Leroy Chiao

Leroy Chiao, PhD

Dr. Chiao served as a NASA astronaut from July 1991 until December of 2005. During that time he qualified for flight assignments as a Space Station commander, Space Station science officer and Space Shuttle mission specialist. Chiao also served as chief of the Astronaut Office EVA Branch. A veteran of four spaceflights, he flew as a mission specialist on STS-65, STS-72 and STS-92, flew to and from the ISS as Flight Engineer on a Russian Soyuz, and was the commander and NASA science officer on Expedition-10. Chiao logged a total of 229 days in space, including 36 hours and 7 minutes of EVA time in six space walks. He has received numerous awards including NASA's highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. Chiao served as a member of the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, chaired by Norm Augustine.

G. Scott Hubbard

G. Scott Hubbard

Dr. Hubbard has been engaged in space-related research for over 35 years including 20 years with NASA culminating as director of NASA's Ames Research Center. In 2003, he was the sole NASA representative on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board where he directed impact testing analysis that established the definitive physical cause of the loss of the Columbia. Hubbard was NASA's first Mars program director and successfully restructured the Mars program in the wake of mission failures. He is the founder of NASA's Astrobiology Institute, conceived the Mars Pathfinder mission and was manager for NASA's Lunar Prospector Mission. Hubbard has received many honors including NASA's highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. He is currently a professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, where his research focuses on planetary exploration and the emerging entrepreneurial space industry. Hubbard serves as the Director of the Stanford Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation.

Richard T. Jennings

Richard T. Jennings, MD

Dr. Jennings served as flight surgeon at NASA-JSC from 1987-1995, as chief of the Flight Medicine Clinic, and as chief of Medical Operations-Space Shuttle. He was crew surgeon or deputy crew surgeon on 14 Shuttle missions and provided mission support to 45 Shuttle flights. In 1995, he joined the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston where he directs the UTMB/NASA-JSC aerospace medicine residency program and coordinates the Wyle Integrated Sciences and Engineering/UTMB physicians that support NASA spaceflight operations, advanced medical projects, and research at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, NASA-JSC, and the Flight Analog Research Unit at UTMB. He is the lead flight surgeon for Space Adventures and consults in commercial suborbital spaceflight with Virgin Galactic. Jennings is a principal investigator for UTMB in the FAA Center of Excellence in Commercial Space Transportation.

Mark E. Kelly

Mark E. Kelly, Captain, USN

Captain Kelly served as a NASA astronaut from August of 1996 until October of 2011. His first trip into space was as pilot of STS-108, when Endeavour lifted off on December 5, 2001. In July 2006, Kelly served as pilot for STS-121 aboard Discovery, the second "Return to Flight" mission following the loss of Columbia in February 2003 in a mission that tested new safety and repair techniques introduced following the Columbia disaster. STS-124, aboard Discovery, was Kelly's first mission as commander. Kelly was also the commander of the STS-134 mission, which was Space Shuttle Endeavour's last flight. A Captain in the U.S. Navy, Kelly logged more than 6,000 hours in more than 50 different aircraft and has over 375 carrier landings.

Edward Lu

Edward Lu, PhD

Dr. Lu served as a NASA astronaut from March of 1995 until August of 2007. A veteran of three space missions, Lu has logged over 206 days in space, including an EVA totaling 6 hours and 14 minutes. Lu was the first American to launch as the flight engineer of a Soyuz spacecraft and the first American to launch and land on a Soyuz spacecraft (Soyuz TMA-2). As flight engineer and NASA ISS science officer, Lu spent a 6-month tour of duty aboard the International Space Station maintaining ISS systems and overseeing science operations. Lu received numerous commendations including NASA's highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. After leaving NASA, Lu joined Google, where he led the Advanced Projects Group responsible for imaging for Google Street View and Google Maps/Earth, book scanning technology and innovative energy projects.


Enter the Dragon, Please Take Your Seats

SpaceX Completes Important Commercial Crew Milestone

SpaceX continues to prepare for our upcoming test flight in which we will attempt to send the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. At the same time we continue making rapid progress in our efforts to prepare the Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. 

You may have read our update on the initial tests of the SuperDraco engines that will power the launch escape system. Recently, SpaceX completed another important milestone – the first NASA Crew Trial, one of two crew tests as part of SpaceX's work to build a prototype Dragon crew cabin. 

For this milestone SpaceX demonstrated that our new crew cabin design will work well for astronauts in both nominal and off-nominal scenarios. It also provided our engineers with the opportunity to gain valuable feedback from both NASA astronauts and industry experts.  

SpaceX's Dragon crew cabin tests. 1
SpaceX and NASA conducted a daylong review of the Dragon crew vehicle layout using the Dragon engineering model equipped with seats and representations of crew systems. Photo: SpaceX

The engineering prototype includes seven seats as well as representations of crew accommodations such as lighting, environmental control and life support systems, displays, cargo racks, and other interior systems. During the daylong test, SpaceX and NASA evaluators including four NASA astronauts, participated in human factors assessments which covered entering and exiting Dragon under both normal and contingency cases, as well as reach and visibility evaluations.  

SpaceX's Dragon crew cabin tests. 2
Test crew included (from top left): NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA Astronaut Tony Antonelli, NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim, and NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra. Photo: Roger Gilbertson / SpaceX

The seven seats mount to strong, lightweight supporting structures attached to the pressure vessel walls. Each seat can hold an adult up to 6 feet 5 inches tall, 250 lbs, and has a liner that is custom-fit for the crewmember.  

SpaceX's Dragon crew cabin tests. 3
With all seven crewmembers in their seats, Dragon has sufficient interior space for three additional people to stand and assist the crew with their launch preparations.

 

SpaceX's Dragon crew cabin tests. 4
NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk and SpaceX Commercial Crew Development Manager and former NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman standing inside the Dragon spacecraft during testing activities.

In fact, Dragon has so much interior volume, that we could place an entire three-person Russian Soyuz capsule descent module inside Dragon's pressure vessel.

SpaceX Featured on 60 Minutes
This Sunday, March 18th, SpaceX will be featured on CBS' 60 Minutes television program. Click here to preview the final piece and in the US, check your local listings for air times. Stay tuned for more updates as we work towards making Dragon the most advanced spacecraft ever flown.


2012 | 10 Years in Review

March 14, 2012

Ten years ago today, SpaceX was founded with the goal of helping make the human race a multi-planetary species. We remain firmly committed to this goal and will do everything within our power to help make this happen.

Below we have collected some of our most memorable moments from the last ten years. As we look back, we would like to thank NASA, our customers, supporters, and those who believe in what we are working so hard to accomplish. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to an exciting future.

SpaceX celerates its first 10 years. 1
Elon Musk founds SpaceX in 2002 and opens our first manufacturing facility in El Segundo – at the center of Southern California's aerospace industry.

SpaceX celerates its first 10 years. 2
In 2006, NASA awards SpaceX a contract under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as represented by the image shown here.

SpaceX celerates its first 10 years. 3
SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket becomes the 1st liquid fueled rocket developed by a private company to reach Earth orbit. This picture shows the nozzle of Falcon 1's upper stage engine just as it achieved orbit, nine and a half minutes after launch.

SpaceX celerates its first 10 years. 4
In 2008, NASA selects SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to take over the job of transporting cargo to and from the Space Station from the retiring space shuttle. While initial flights will focus on cargo, Falcon 9 and Dragon were designed from the beginning to transport crew; every cargo flight to the Space Station gets us one step closer to this goal.

SpaceX celerates its first 10 years. 5
Falcon 1 delivers its first commercial payload to Earth orbit – the RazakSAT satellite for Malaysia. In this image, you see the two halves of the faring that covered the satellite during launch fall back to Earth after separating.

SpaceX celerates its first 10 years. 6
In 2010, SpaceX launches the first flight of Falcon 9, one of the most advanced rockets in the world. The first launch achieved a nearly perfect insertion of the second stage and Dragon spacecraft qualification unit into the targeted 250 km (155 mi) circular orbit.

SpaceX celerates its first 10 years. 7
Also in 2010, the second flight of Falcon 9 orbits the first operational Dragon spacecraft under the NASA COTS program, and SpaceX becomes the first private company to recover a spacecraft from Earth orbit—a feat previously only accomplished by a few nations.
 

The last 10 years have been an incredible experience and the next 10 promise to be just as exciting. Stay tuned for more updates on our first upcoming mission to Station, Falcon Heavy and our progress in preparing Dragon to transport crew.  


SPACEX TEST FIRES ADVANCED NEW ENGINE

New Video Shows SuperDraco Engine in Action

Hawthorne, CA – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has successfully test fired SuperDraco, a powerful new engine that will play a critical role in the company's efforts to change the future of human spaceflight.

Test of SpaceX's SuperDraco engine.
WATCH THE VIDEO: http://youtu.be/PUUnYgo1-lI 

"SuperDraco engines represent the best of cutting edge technology," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Technology Officer. "These engines will power a revolutionary launch escape system that will make Dragon the safest spacecraft in history and enable it to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy."

The SuperDraco is an advanced version of the Draco engines currently used by SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to maneuver on orbit and during reentry. As part of SpaceX's state-of-the-art launch escape system, eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the Dragon spacecraft will produce up to 120,000 pounds of axial thrust to carry astronauts to safety should an emergency occur during launch.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program awarded SpaceX $75 million in April of last year to begin work developing the escape system in order to prepare the Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. Less than nine months later, SpaceX engineers have designed, built and tested the engine.

In a series of recent tests conducted at the company's Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas, the SuperDraco sustained full duration, full thrust firing as well as a series of deep throttling demonstrations.

SpaceX's launch escape system has many advantages over past systems. It is inherently safer because it is not jettisoned like all other escape systems. This distinction provides astronauts with the unprecedented ability to escape from danger at any point during the launch, not just in the first few minutes. The eight SuperDracos provide redundancy, so that even if one engine fails an escape can still be carried out successfully.

SuperDracos can also be restarted multiple times if necessary and the engines will have the ability to deep throttle, providing astronauts with precise control and enormous power. In addition, as a part of a recoverable Dragon spacecraft, the engines can be used repeatedly, helping to advance SpaceX's long-term goal of making spacecraft more like airplanes, which can be flown again and again with minimal maintenance between flights.

Illustration of SpaceX's SuperDraco helping Dragon spacecraft land.
SuperDraco engines will provide the Dragon spacecraft with the capability to perform on target propulsive landings anywhere in the solar system. Credit: SpaceX

 

Illustration of SpaceX's SuperDraco escape system.
SuperDraco engines will power a revolutionary launch escape system that will make SpaceX's Dragon the safest spacecraft in the world. Eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the Dragon spacecraft will produce up to 120,000 pounds of axial thrust to carry astronauts to safety should an emergency occur during launch. Credit: SpaceX



Photo by Alan Walters: awaltersphoto.com


Liftoff of SpaceX's Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral.



2012 | Year of the Dragon

January 23, 2012

Today marks the start of the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar and this year, SpaceX's Dragon will become the first privately developed spacecraft to visit the International Space Station. Space travel is one of the most difficult of all human endeavors, and success is never a guarantee. This flight introduces a series of new challenges and new magnitudes of complexity; if even the smallest thing goes wrong, we will be forced to abort the mission.

What is guaranteed, however, is our commitment. There will be challenges along the way, but SpaceX will again make history and become the first private company to send a spacecraft to the Space Station. We take this responsibility very seriously and will not stop until we succeed.

Dragon is a spacecraft unlike any other. Not only is it the first privately developed spacecraft to successfully return from Earth orbit, but it is also the only reusable spacecraft designed for human transport in operation today. In the coming days, we'll take a closer look at some of Dragon's advanced technologies in celebration of the Year of the Dragon and the opening of a new era in space travel.

In the meantime, checkout out the interactive panorama below for a look inside Dragon in its cargo configuration, as it will be on its first mission to the International Space Station:

Click for a look inside Dragon's cargo configuration.
(click image to view interactive panorama--flash required)

At the top you have the hatch that will connect with the International Space Station. To the side is the hatch as well as racks and straps to hold cargo, which in our next mission will include several hundred pounds of astronaut provisions. And on the floor, just above the heat shield, is additional storage space behind metal doors that are shown both open and closed.


Dec. 9, 2011
NASA PreSS RELEASE : 11-413    

NASA Announces Launch Date and Milestones for Spacex Flight

    WASHINGTON -- NASA has announced the launch target for Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight will be Feb. 7, 2012, pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and verification. NASA also has agreed to allow SpaceX to send its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) in a single flight.

"SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "We look forward to a successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory."

SpaceX COTS-2 Mission Animation Animation of the launch, flight and landing of a SpaceX Dragon capsule on a demonstration mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA's COTS program.
Gerstenmaier said, "There is still a significant amount of critical work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges. As with all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure safety and mission success."

During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures that will test and prove its systems in advance of the rendezvous with the station. The primary objectives for the flight include a fly-by of the space station at a distance of approximately two miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also will demonstrate the capability to abort the rendezvous, if required.

Dragon will perform the final approach to the ISS while the station crew grapples the vehicle with the station's robotic arm. The capsule will be berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. At the end of the mission, the crew will reverse the process, detaching Dragon from the station for its return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of California. If the rendezvous and attachment to the station are not successful, SpaceX will complete a third demonstration flight in order to achieve these objectives as originally planned.

"SpaceX is on the forefront of demonstrating how a partnership between the government and private industry can lead to new capabilities and provide a large return on investment," said Alan Lindenmoyer, program manager for COTS at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to berth with the International Space Station. This mission will mark a historic milestone in the future of spaceflight," said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. "We appreciate NASA's continued support and their partnership in this process."

Begun in 2006, NASA's COTS program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation capabilities. In a multiphase strategy, the program is spurring the innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from commercial industry, creating a new system of delivering cargo to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Through Space Act Agreements, SpaceX will receive up to $396 million and Orbital Sciences Corporation, NASA's other COTS partner, will receive up to $288 million for the successful completion of all milestones in the agreements. To date, SpaceX has received $376 million for completing 36 out of 40 milestones and Orbital has received $261.5 million for completing 23 out of 29 milestones.

For more information on COTS, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cots

For more information on the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

For more information on SpaceX or the Dragon spacecraft, visit: www.spacex.com


NASA PRESS RELEASE -- Dec. 9, 2011

NASA ANNOUNCES LAUNCH DATE AND MILESTONES FOR SPACEX FLIGHT

WASHINGTON -- NASA has announced the launch target for Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight will be Feb. 7, 2012. Pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and verification, NASA also has agreed to allow SpaceX to send its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) in a single flight.

"SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "We look forward to a successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory."

Gerstenmaier said, "There is still a significant amount of critical work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges. As with all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure safety and mission success."

During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures that will test and prove its systems in advance of the rendezvous with the station. The primary objectives for the flight include a fly-by of the space station at a distance of approximately two miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also will demonstrate the capability to abort the rendezvous, if required.

Dragon will perform the final approach to the ISS while the station crew grapples the vehicle with the station's robotic arm. The capsule will be berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. At the end of the mission, the crew will reverse the process, detaching Dragon from the station for its return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of California. If the rendezvous and attachment to the station are not successful, SpaceX will complete a third demonstration flight in order to achieve these objectives as originally planned.

"SpaceX is on the forefront of demonstrating how a partnership between the government and private industry can lead to new capabilities and provide a large return on investment," said Alan Lindenmoyer, program manager for COTS at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to berth with the International Space Station. This mission will mark a historic milestone in the future of spaceflight," said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. "We appreciate NASA's continued support and their partnership in this process."

Begun in 2006, NASA's COTS program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation capabilities. In a multiphase strategy, the program is spurring the innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from commercial industry, creating a new system of delivering cargo to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Through Space Act Agreements, SpaceX will receive up to $396 million and Orbital Sciences Corp., NASA's other COTS partner, will receive up to $288 million for the successful completion of all milestones in the agreements. To date, SpaceX has received $376 million for completing 36 out of 40 milestones and Orbital has received $261.5 million for completing 23 out of 29 milestones.

For more information on COTS, visit: www. nasa. gov/cots

For more information on the International Space Station, visit: www. nasa. gov/station

For more information on SpaceX or the Dragon spacecraft, visit: www. spacex. com


Dec. 7, 2010 -- NASA Press Release

DEMONSTRATION FLIGHT OF FALCON 9 ROCKET SET FOR WEDNESDAY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The first demonstration flight of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window extends from 9 a. m. to 12:22 p. m. EST.

During a routine inspection this week, SpaceX engineers observed two small cracks in the rocket's second stage engine nozzle. SpaceX completed repairs to the cracked nozzle Tuesday.

Live coverage of the launch will air on NASA Television and the agency's website. For streaming information, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about the launch, visit: www.nasa.gov/cots


Dec. 6, 2010 -- NASA Press Release

FALCON 9 LAUNCH POSTPONED TO NO EARLIER THAN WEDNESDAY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A demonstration launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program has been rescheduled for no earlier than Wednesday, Dec. 8. The delay is because of a crack in the engine nozzle on the rocket's second stage.

During a routine review of close-out photos of the rocket on Monday, SpaceX engineers discovered the crack, which measures about three inches long. Preparations continue on the rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40 in Florida.

SpaceX is considering several options, including repairing the crack or shipping a replacement part from California. More information on the launch schedule will be announced when available.

To learn more about the COTS 1 launch, visit: www.nasa.gov/COTS


Dec. 6, 2010 --

SpaceX announced a delay of the Falcon 9 demonstation launch to no earlier than Thursday, Dec. 9. The launch window extends from 9 a.m. to 12:22 p.m. EST.


All nine Merline engines firing at once. SpaceX has changed their Press Release system. Apparently the NBBD has been left out. I'll try to get back on their list so we can keep you up to date here. December 6, 2010 -- Here's a photo of all nine Merline engines firing at once during Saturday's static fire test of the SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle. The actual launch is targeted for tomorrow, Dec. 7, with a window from 9 a.m. to 12:22 p.m EST. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center's Facebook page.

Friday, August 20, 2010

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Successfully Completes High Altitude Drop Test

Final Test Before Launch Validates Mission Critical Function – Successful Test of Parachute Systems and Recovery Operations for Spacecraft Set to Return Supplies from Space Station

HAWTHORNE, CA – Today SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) announced their Dragon spacecraft has successfully completed a high altitude drop test - meeting 100% of test objectives. This is the last in a series of tests to validate parachute deployment systems and recovery operations before the craft's first launch.

View the video and photos: http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

During the August 12th test, an Erikson S-64F Air-Crane helicopter dropped a test article of the Dragon spacecraft from a height of 14,000 feet, roughly nine miles off the coast of Morro Bay, California. In a carefully timed sequence of events, dual redundant drogue parachutes deployed first to stabilize and gently slow the craft before three main parachutes, 116 feet in diameter, further slowed the craft to a picture perfect landing. From there, recovery ships successfully returned the Dragon and parachutes to shore.

While Dragon will initially be used to transport cargo, the spacecraft was designed to transport crew and the parachute system validated during the test is the same system that would be used on a crew-carrying Dragon. 

"By holding the Dragon to stringent standards for manned missions from the start, tests like this will ensure the highest quality and reliability for Dragon over the long term," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and CTO. "We are proving, every day, that the future of American missions to space will rely on American made commercial companies."

The two drogue parachutes create a more gradual reduction in speed, important for future manned missions, while the three oversized parachutes are important to ensuring a safe and comfortable landing, slowing the spacecraft's decent to approximately 16-18 feet per second. Under nominal conditions, astronauts would experience no more than roughly 2-3 g's during this type of decent—less than you'd experience at an amusement park. And with three main parachutes, even if Dragon were to lose one, crew would still land safely. 

"Data gathered during the drop test will be invaluable as we prepare for the upcoming demonstration flight of the first operational Dragon spacecraft," said Chris Thompson, SpaceX VP of Structures.

In June 2010, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft test article. Later this year, SpaceX will take the next step in testing, delivering an operational Dragon to low earth orbit atop a Falcon 9. This is the first demonstration flight under its inclusion in NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, established in 2006 to encourage private companies to develop commercial space transport capabilities. 

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft and its Falcon 9 launch vehicle have been selected by NASA to deliver supplies to and from the International Space Station starting in 2011. The Dragon spacecraft can return as much as 2,500 kilograms (5,510 lbs) of cargo from the space station back to Earth, a service not offered by any other commercial cargo supply system. 

Landing of an operational Dragon is a far more precise operation than seen in the drop test. Draco thrusters fired during reentry will ensure Dragon lands less than a mile from the targeted site. The dispersion is due only to wind pushing Dragon's parachutes—in low winds Dragon's landing accuracy will be within a few hundred feet. Once the ability to accurately control reentry is proven, SpaceX plans to add deployable landing gear and use thrusters to safely land Dragon on land.


SpaceX Applauds Breakthrough Compromise in U.S. Senate on NASA Budget

Legislation Supports Domestic Commercial Crew Initiatives to Reduce Reliance on Russian Soyuz and Bring Critical High-Tech Jobs Back to the US

Hawthorne, CA – July 20, 2010 – SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) applauds the efforts of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for their unanimous, bipartisan approval of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. This landmark legislation ushers in a new era in human spaceflight by embracing the commercial sector as a full partner and recognizing commercial crew services as the primary means of astronaut transport to the International Space Station (ISS).

"We are pleased that the Senate Commerce Committee has recognized that the best and only near-term option for eliminating America's reliance on the Russian Soyuz for astronaut transportation is the development and use of commercial systems, such as SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft" said Elon Musk, CEO & CTO, SpaceX. "For about the same amount that is currently being spent on purchasing seats on Russian launch vehicles, we can create thousands of high-tech, high-paying jobs right here at home." 

In 2010, NASA will pay the Russian Space Agency $287.4 million for 6 seats on Russian Soyuz flights, which amounts to $47.9 million per seat. By 2013, the price per seat paid to Russia to carry U.S. astronauts will exceed $55 million. 

Though it provides less funding than the President's request, the new legislation provides $312 million in FY11 funding for the development of American commercial systems to transport crew to the ISS. SpaceX is one of several companies currently developing commercial crew technology funded by NASA, including Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corporation, Illinois-based Boeing Company, Colorado-based United Launch Alliance, Washington-based Blue Origin, Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace, and Arizona- based Paragon Space Development Corporation.

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft test article in June 2010, meeting 100% of mission objectives on its first attempt. The first demonstration flight with a fully operational Dragon spacecraft is targeted for late summer 2010. This flight will be the first under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program which was established in 2006 to encourage private companies to develop commercial space transport capabilities. SpaceX currently employs over 1,100 people across California, Texas and Florida.


IRIDIUM AND SPACEX SIGN MAJOR COMMERCIAL LAUNCH CONTRACT

Contract for Launch of Iridium NEXT Satellite Constellation Represents a New Benchmark in Value for Commercial Launch Services

MCLEAN, Va. and HAWTHORNE, Calif. – June 16, 2010 – Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) are pleased to announce that the Falcon 9 will be a major provider of launch services for Iridium NEXT, Iridium's next-generation satellite constellation. The $492 million contract, while being the largest single commercial launch deal ever signed, nonetheless represents a new benchmark in cost-effective satellite delivery to space.

Iridium operates the world's largest commercial satellite constellation, and is the only communications company to offer mobile voice and data services across the entire globe. SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle will carry multiple Iridium NEXT satellites per vehicle, inserting the satellites into a low-earth orbit (LEO) as Iridium replaces its current satellite constellation. The Iridium NEXT satellites are set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California between 2015 and 2017.

The contract stipulates that SpaceX will provide launch services to Iridium over a two-year period starting in early 2015. Iridium is also in discussions with, and expects to contract with, at least one additional launch services provider. Launch services are included in the total estimated cost of $2.9 billion for Iridium NEXT.

"This is the third major building block on the road to Iridium NEXT," said Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium. "Two weeks ago, we announced our fixed-price contract with Thales Alenia Space. We also announced our Coface-backed financing plan, and today I am pleased to announce our partnership with SpaceX for extremely cost-effective launch services."

Added Desch, "We are proud to be partnered with SpaceX, and want to congratulate Elon Musk and the entire SpaceX team on its successful inaugural Falcon 9 launch. Hands down, SpaceX offered us the best value coupled with an unwavering commitment to flawless performance and reliability. SpaceX has combined the best of aerospace and commercial best practices to design reliable and cost-effective access to space, and Iridium will be the beneficiary of that effort."

Desch further commented, "SpaceX also offered dedicated Iridium NEXT launch slots within its manifest, which currently has 24 Falcon 9 flights scheduled ahead of us, including those for commercial and government customers, during the coming five years. Clearly, SpaceX has established itself as a significant player in the launch industry, and we have great confidence that SpaceX will build on its recent success and continue to cement an impressive track record of successful space flight in advance of our mission."

The June 4 inaugural launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 achieved 100 percent of its mission objectives, culminating in a near bull's-eye insertion to its targeted 250km circular orbit. SpaceX has been working with Iridium and Thales Alenia Space, the prime contractor for Iridium NEXT, to ensure compatibility between the satellite design, the Falcon 9 vehicle and the Iridium NEXT program schedule. This full coordination positions Iridium, SpaceX and Thales Alenia Space for a successful multi-year process of designing, building and launching Iridium NEXT.

"Iridium NEXT is now our largest commercial satellite launch customer and we are excited to play such an integral part in the most significant commercial space program underway today," said Elon Musk, CEO, SpaceX. "We are impressed by Iridium's comprehensive approach and diligence in its planning as the company prepares for the design, build and launch of Iridium NEXT. SpaceX greatly appreciates Iridium's efficient approach to satellite production – an approach we share when it comes to our launch vehicles. As the next generation of the world's only global satellite constellation that reliably covers 100 percent of the Earth's surface, the implementation of the Iridium NEXT satellites will mark a significant achievement in mobile satellite communications, and SpaceX is looking forward to making it happen." 

The SpaceX Falcon 9 is a medium-to-heavy lift, two-stage launch vehicle capable of lifting approximately 11 tons to LEO. Designed to the highest levels of reliability and performance, NASA selected Falcon 9, along with the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, to resupply the International Space Station starting in 2011. This $1.6 billion contract represents 12 flights to and from the International Space Station. Further validating the reliability and robustness of commercial launch, President Obama recently decided to turn over astronaut transport to the U.S. commercial sector, specifically mentioning the example of Falcon 9 in his historic speech at Cape Canaveral. The U.S. government's confidence in SpaceX provided further validation for Iridium's decision.


SPACEX AND THE NATIONAL SPACE ORGANIZATION (NSPO) SIGN CONTRACT TO LAUNCH EARTH OBSERVATION SATELLITE

Hawthorne, CA – June 14 2010 – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and the National Space Organization (NSPO) have signed contract for the launch of NSPO's Earth Observation Satellite, Formosat-5. Formosat-5 will be used to continue the image data service for civilian users and may also carry instruments to conduct space research and scientific experiments.

NSPO, the civilian space agency of the Republic of China (Taiwan), is involved in the development of space exploration, satellite construction and development as well as related research, technologies and infrastructure, including the FORMOSAT series of Earth observation satellites. With Formosat-5, NSPO aims to build up capabilities for independent development of spacecraft and payload instruments.

"The launch of Formosat-5 will build on the successful launch and operation of the FORMOSAT satellites," said Dr. H.P. Chang, Formosat-5 Program Manager of NSPO. "SpaceX's approach to launch services is very well-aligned with our goals and objectives for the program—we are very pleased to partner with them on this launch."

"With over 40 flights now on manifest, SpaceX is positioned to deliver launch services across the increasingly varied needs of our commercial and government customers," said Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. "We are pleased to be the launch services provider of choice for the FORMOSAT-5 mission and look forward to supporting NSPO on this launch."

Formosat-5 is slated to launch as early as December 2013 from SpaceX's launch site on Omelek Island at the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific, about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii.


SPACEX ACHIEVES ORBITAL BULLSEYE WITH INAUGURAL FLIGHT OF FALCON 9 ROCKET

  A major win for NASA's plan to use commercial rockets for astronaut transport

Cape Canaveral, Florida – June 7, 2010 – SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) announced that the inaugural flight of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle successfully launched and achieved Earth orbit right on target, marking a key milestone for SpaceX and the commercial space flight industry.

Falcon 9 liftoff from Cape Canaveral
Liftoff of the inaugural SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle carrying a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit. Launch occurred on Friday 4 June, 2010 at 2:45 Eastern / 18:45 UTC from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Photo Credit: Chris Thompson / SpaceX.
Preliminary data indicates that Falcon 9 achieved all of its primary mission objectives, culminating in a nearly perfect insertion of the second stage and Dragon spacecraft qualification unit into the targeted 250 km (155 mi) circular orbit. SpaceX also gathered important aerodynamic data during ascent and vehicle performance, which will be used in final preparations for the upcoming NASA demonstration and missions to the International Space Station (ISS).

"This is a major milestone not only for SpaceX, but the increasingly bright future of space flight," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO, SpaceX. "It was an incredible day for the employees of SpaceX, but it is important to note that we did not do this alone. I'd like to thank from the bottom of my heart all of our supporters in NASA—particularly the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) office—the US Air Force, the FAA and our customers. Their support has been critical to this success."

SpaceX currently has an extensive and diverse manifest of over 30 contracted missions, including 18 missions to deliver commercial satellites to orbit. In addition, the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft have been contracted by NASA to carry cargo, which includes live plants and animals, to and from the ISS. Both Falcon 9 and Dragon have already been designed to meet NASA's published human rating standards for astronaut transport, allowing for a rapid transition to astronauts within three years of receiving a contract to do so. The critical path item is development and testing of the launch escape system, which would be a significant improvement in safety over the Space Shuttle, which does not possess an escape system.

The NASA COTS program has demonstrated the power of what can be accomplished when you combine private sector responsiveness and ingenuity with the guidance, support and insight of the US government. For less than the cost of the Ares I mobile service tower, SpaceX has developed all the flight hardware for the Falcon 9 orbital rocket, Dragon spacecraft, as well as three launch sites. SpaceX has been profitable for three consecutive years (2007 through 2009) and expects to remain modestly profitable for the foreseeable future. The company has over 1000 employees in California, Texas and Florida, and has been approximately doubling in size every two years. A majority of the future growth is expected to occur in Texas and Florida.

Falcon 9 lifted off at 2:45 p.m. (EDT) / 18:45 (UTC) from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station located on the Atlantic coast of Florida, approximately 5.5 km (3.5 mi) southeast of NASA's space shuttle launch site. The Falcon 9 launch vehicle is powered by a cluster of nine SpaceX-designed and developed Merlin engines. Using ultra pure jet fuel and liquid oxygen, the engines generated nearly a million pounds of thrust for the vehicle upon liftoff. View a high definition liftoff video clip here.

The Merlin engine is one of only two orbit class rocket engines developed in the United States in the last decade (SpaceX's Kestrel is the other), and is the highest efficiency American hydrocarbon engine ever built. The Falcon 9 first stage, with a fully fueled to dry weight ratio of over 20, has the world's best structural efficiency, despite being designed to higher human rated factors of safety.


June 4, 2010

FIRST FALCON 9 TEST LAUNCH UPDATE

First Falcon 9 test launch from Cape Canaveral Today, SpaceX's first Falcon 9 has successfully achieved Earth orbit. This has been a great day for SpaceX and a promising step forward for the US space program, as we make progress towards expanding the human presence in space. Click here to watch video of the first successful flight of Falcon 9:

SpaceX extends special thanks to all of our long-time supporters, all our NASA, Government, and Commercial customers, and the United States Air Force and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for their excellent, ongoing support.


Orbital info

4:37 PM EDT
Below is the latest orbital information we have from Elon.
Nominal shutdown and orbit was almost exactly 250km. Telemetry showed essentially a bullseye: ~0.2% on perigee and ~1% on apogee.
SpaceX • Falcon 9 • Test Flight 1 • Press Kit

Kit includes:


June 1, 2010

PREPARATIONS FOR FIRST FALCON 9 TEST LAUNCH

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Falcon 9 Engines Close Up SpaceX is now targeting Friday, June 4th for its first test launch attempt of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

The primary schedule driver for the first Falcon 9 test launch has been certification of the flight termination system (FTS). The FTS ensures that Air Force Range safety officials can command the destruction of the vehicle should it stray from its designated flight path.

The successful liftoff of the recent GPS satellite launch last Thursday freed up the necessary range resources to process our final documentation, and we are now looking good for final approval of the FTS by this Friday, June 4th, just in time for our first launch attempt.

Today we completed end to end testing of the Falcon 9 as required by the Air Force Range and everything was nominal. Later this evening, we will finish final system connections for the FTS. Tomorrow we plan to rollout in the morning, and erect the vehicle in the afternoon. On Friday, the targeted schedule is as follows:

Friday 4 June 2010
Launch Window Opens: 11:00 AM Eastern / 8:00 AM Pacific / 1500 UTC
Launch window lasts 4 hours. SpaceX has also reserved a second launch day on Saturday 5 June, with the same hours.

Falcon 9 on Cape Canaveral launch Pad As always, weather will play a significant role in our overall launch schedule. The weather experts at the Cape are giving us a 40% chance of "no go" conditions for both days of our window, citing the potential for cumulus clouds and anvil clouds from thunderstorms.

If the weather cooperates, SpaceX will provide a live webcast of the launch events, presently scheduled to begin 20 minutes prior to the opening of the launch window. Click here to visit our webcast page which will also be accessible from our home page the day of launch.

It's important to note that since this is a test launch, our primary goal is to collect as much data as possible, with success being measured as a percentage of how many flight milestones we are able to complete in this first attempt. It would be a great day if we reach orbital velocity, but still a good day if the first stage functions correctly, even if the second stage malfunctions. It would be a bad day if something happens on the launch pad itself and we're not able to gain any flight data.

If we have a bad day, it will be disappointing, but one launch does not make or break SpaceX as a company, nor commercial spaceflight as an industry. The Atlas rocket only succeeded on its 13th flight, and today it is the most reliable vehicle in the American fleet, with a record better than Shuttle.

Regardless of the outcome, this first launch attempt represents a key milestone for both SpaceX and the commercial spaceflight industry. Keep in mind the launch dates and times are still subject to change, so please check the webcast page above for updates to this schedule. We appreciate your ongoing support and we hope you will tune in on launch day.


May 28, 2010

Update | Falcon 9 Test Launch

Due to delays in the recent GPS satellite launch, Air Force range safety officials unfortunately did not have the resources to process our final documentation. SpaceX is now looking at no earlier than Friday, June 4th for its first test launch attempt. Will keep you posted.


May 25, 2010

Falcoln 9 launch delay

Looks like the delay of the Delta IV GPS satellite launch has taken up a lot of resources at the Cape and in turn pushed the first test launch of Falcon 9 from May 28/29 to no earlier than June 2/3. Will keep you posted.


PREPARATIONS FOR FIRST FALCON 9 LAUNCH

Thursday, May 6, 2010

As we continue to progress towards the first Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral, certification of the flight termination system (FTS) and subsequent range availability remain the two primary schedule drivers.

Air Force Range safety requires the FTS system, which allows them to safely end the launch should the vehicle stray from its designated flight corridor. The system consists of a command receiver and an ordnance system designed to split the vehicle's fuel and liquid oxygen tanks in the event of an errant flight.

SpaceX is working closely with Ensign Bickford to complete testing of the explosive elements of the FTS system, but there are other components, such as the FTS radios, antennas and the transponder that come from other suppliers as well. All of these components must be qualified specifically for our flight environments, so unfortunately, it is not simply a case of buying "off the shelf".

FTS testing is an iterative process where the number of remaining tests depends on the results of previous tests, making it very difficult to predict a completion date. Once testing is complete, final data is submitted to SpaceX and Air Force Range safety officials for review and acceptance. Much of the range calendar for May is already reserved for other activities, so range availability will be a key factor in identifying a launch date. Fortunately the FTS is the last remaining significant milestone--the vehicle is otherwise ready for flight, so once we complete certification, we will be "all systems go" for launch.

WET DRESS REHEARSAL

During our successful wet dress rehearsal (WDR) in late February, we experienced some problems with the thermal protective cork layer that covers the first stage. In some areas subjected to the extreme cold of liquid oxygen (LOX), the cork's bonding adhesive failed and several panels separated from the vehicle. It is important to emphasize that the cork is not needed for ascent and there is no risk to flight even if it all came off. This is for thermal protection on reentry to allow for the possibility of recovery and reuse. While stage recovery is not a primary mission objective on this inaugural launch, it is part of our long-term plans, and we will attempt to recover the first stage on this initial Falcon 9 flight.

After applying a new layer of cork thermal protection using a new adhesive system, we opted to perform a second wet dress rehearsal, as well as an electromagnetic interference (EMI) test. Everything performed well and the new adhesive remained properly bonded. A word of thanks to NASA and our resin supplier for helping our structures team find these effective solutions.

As we ramp up our flight rate, Florida will continue to be SpaceX's fastest growing region. We are entering continuous launch operations mode, meaning we will have over 100 people in Florida on average. That count may go as high as 200 later this year when we start preparing and launching Dragon. We expect our direct employment at the Cape to eventually reach thousands of people; using standard multipliers for indirect regional employment, this could mean in excess of several thousand jobs long term.


April 15, 2010

At Long Last, an Inspiring Future for Space Exploration

The Apollo Moon landing was one of humanity's greatest achievements. Millennia from now, when the vast majority of the 20th century is reduced to a few footnotes known only to erudite scholars of history, they will still remember that was when we first set foot upon a heavenly body. It was a mere 66 years after the first powered airplane flight by the Wright brothers.

In the 41 years that have passed since 1969, we have yet to surpass that achievement in human spaceflight. Since then, our capability has actually declined considerably and to a degree that would yield shocked disbelief from anyone in that era. By now, we were supposed to have a base on the Moon, perhaps even on Mars, and have sent humans traveling on great odysseys to the outer planets. Instead, we have been confined to low Earth orbit and even that ends this year with the retirement of the Space Shuttle.

In 2003, following the Columbia accident, President Bush began development of a system to replace the Shuttle, called the Ares I rocket and Orion spacecraft. It is important to note that this too would only have been able to reach low Earth orbit. Many in the media mistakenly assumed it was capable of reaching the Moon. As is not unusual with large government programs, the schedule slipped by several years and costs ballooned by tens of billions.

By the time President Obama cancelled Ares I/Orion earlier this year, the schedule had already slipped five years to 2017 and completing development would have required another $50 billion. Moreover, the cost per flight, inclusive of overhead, was estimated to be at least $1.5 billion compared to the $1 billion of Shuttle, despite carrying only four people to Shuttle's seven and almost no cargo.

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. To quote a member of the Augustine Commission, which was convened by the President to analyze Ares/Orion, "If Santa Claus brought us the system tomorrow, fully developed, and the budget didn't change, our next action would have to be to cancel it," because we can't afford the annual operating costs. 

Cancellation was therefore simply a matter of time and thankfully we have a President with the political courage to do the right thing sooner rather than later. We can ill afford the expense of an "Apollo on steroids", as a former NASA Administrator referred to the Ares/Orion program. A lesser President might have waited until after the upcoming election cycle, not caring that billions more dollars would be wasted. It was disappointing to see how many in Congress did not possess this courage. One senator in particular was determined to achieve a new altitude record in hypocrisy, claiming that the public option was bad in healthcare, but good in space!


President Obama Tours SpaceX Facility

President Barack Obama tours the commercial rocket processing facility of Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, along with Elon Musk, SpacdeX CEO at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Obama also visited the NASA Kennedy Space Center to deliver remarks on the bold new course the administration is charting to maintain U.S. leadership in human space flight.
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

 
 
  Thankfully, as a result of funds freed up by this cancellation, there is now hope for a bright future in space exploration. The new plan is to harness our nation's unparalleled system of free enterprise (as we have done in all other modes of transport), to create far more reliable and affordable rockets. Handing over Earth orbit transport to American commercial companies, overseen of course by NASA and the FAA, will free up the NASA resources necessary to develop interplanetary transport technologies. This is critically important if we are to reach Mars, the next giant leap in human exploration of the Universe.

Today, the President will articulate an ambitious and exciting new plan that will alter our destiny as a species. I believe this address could be as important as President Kennedy's 1962 speech at Rice University. For the first time since Apollo, our country will have a plan for space exploration that inspires and excites all who look to the stars. Even more important, it will work.

--Elon--


April 2, 2010

Update on the first test launch of Falcon 9 below

SpaceX is working closely with Ensign Bickford Aerospace & Defense Co., supplier of key components of the Flight Termination System (FTS) that will be used on Falcon 9, to complete testing of the FTS hardware and provide final data to SpaceX and Air Force Range safety officials for review and acceptance. Certification of the Falcon 9 FTS and subsequent range availability will put the first Falcon 9 test launch towards the latter half of the anticipated March-May window, with the first attempt no earlier than May 8, 2010.


March 28, 2010

SPACEX ACTIVATES NEW COMMUNICATION SYSTEM ABOARD INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION FOR CONTROL OF UPCOMING DRAGON SPACECRAFT VISITS

  Hawthorne, CA (March 29, 2010) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the successful activation of its new Dragon spacecraft communication hardware aboard the International Space Station (ISS) during a series of operations conducted in January and March.

Dubbed the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Communication Unit, the new system will allow ISS crewmembers to monitor and command approaching or departing Dragon spacecraft during cargo delivery missions to the orbiting laboratory.

Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered the system hardware to the ISS during mission STS-129 in November 2009. The on-orbit checkout began January 25, 2010, when astronaut Jeff Williams, ISS Expedition 22 Commander, worked with ground-based team members at SpaceX headquarters and ISS mission control in Houston to power-up and check out the new system.

On March 11, SpaceX and NASA Houston performed an additional series of tests, using the new system to send communications between the ISS and the NASA Dryden ground station. This provided a baseline of the radio frequency performance and confirmed the first set of antennas performed as expected and is ready for mission operations. Additional testing is expected for a second set of antennas as well as ongoing verification of the overall system.

The tests employed live video and telemetry links from the ISS to verify the hardware's functionality, broadcast and reception signal strengths, and the system's stability over long-duration operations.

"The success of this series of tests speaks to our close collaboration with NASA as well as the SpaceX process that allowed the rapid development of this new hardware," said Marco Villa, SpaceX Mission Operations Manager. "Furthermore, the January tests marked the first official joint operations between SpaceX Mission Control in California, and NASA Mission Control in Houston. Everything went smoothly, and we eagerly anticipate the upcoming Dragon visits to the ISS."

Developed by SpaceX under a NASA Space Act Agreement, the new system allows for communication between the ISS and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft while in the vicinity of the ISS. Its design leverages the abilities of the ISS communication systems, providing data exchange with ground-based mission control.

Designed from the beginning to transport crew, SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft were selected by NASA to transport cargo to and from the ISS starting in 2011. The $1.6B contract represents 12 flights for a minimum of 20 tons to and from the ISS. The first demonstration flights under the COTS program are scheduled for 2010, following the inaugural launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

100328-ISS-CommSyst-1 100328-ISS-CommSyst-2 100328-ISS-CommSyst-3
Click a photo for a gallery of enlargements.

March 13, 2010

SpaceX completed a successful static fire today, full 3.5 secs.

Today, SpaceX successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 located at Cape Canaveral. Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds. 

Just prior to engine ignition, the pad water deluge system was activated providing acoustic suppression to keep vibration levels within acceptable limits. The test validated the launch pad propellant and pneumatic systems as well as the ground and flight control software that controls pad and launch vehicle configurations. The completion of a successful static fire is the latest milestone on the path to first flight of the Falcon 9 which will carry a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit to orbit.

Successful static fire of Falcon 9 - 3/13/10 - 1
Successful static fire of Falcon 9 - 3/13/10 - 2
Successful static fire of Falcon 9 - 3/13/10 - 3
Photos: Chris Thompson/SpaceX — Click photo for an enlargement that opens in a new window.


SpaceX – Static Fire Follow-Up

FYI (3/11/10) -- Explanation on the exact cause of Tuesday's abort at SpaceX's launch pad in Cape Canaveral below, this is a statement from Elon:

"The valve that didn't actuate is the ground side isolation valve to release ground supplied high pressure helium to start the first stage engine turbopumps spinning at several thousand rpm. Once that happens it generates enough pressure to start the gas generator, which is a small rocket engine that powers the turbopump. There are no vehicle side valves actuated for spin start (just check valves), so it is an all engines or none situation. 

The problem was pretty simple: our autostart sequence didn't issue the command to the normally closed ground side isolation valve. We had tested everything on the vehicle side exhaustively in Texas, but didn't have this iso valve on our test stand there. Definitely a lesson learned to make sure that *everything* is the same between test stand and launch pad on the ground side, not just on the vehicle side. 

Ignition fluid (TEA-TEB) flowed nominally to all engines creating the green flame and the main valves opened, but no engines actually started and the system automatically aborted on lack of spin. The fire generated was from flushing the system of fuel and LOX from the open mains. No damage to the vehicle or ground systems and no other anomalies that need to be addressed. If all goes well, we will try the static fire again in the next few days. Right now, we are holding due to extreme weather. It is raining sideways at 46 mph and tornados have been spotted just north of the Cape.

It is important for readers/viewers to appreciate that what we are going through right now is the equivalent of "beta testing". Problems are expected to occur, as they have throughout the development phase. The beta phase only ends when a rocket has done at least one, but arguably two or three consecutive flights to orbit. "


SpaceX Static Fire Update

February 10, 2010 -- Today SpaceX performed our first Static Fire for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. We counted down to an T-2 seconds and aborted on Spin Start. Given that this was our first abort event on this pad, we decided to scrub for the day to get a good look at the rocket before trying again. Everything looks great at first glance. 

We completed pad preps on time and with good execution. The integrated countdown with the range included holdfire checks, S- band telemetry, C-band, and FTS simulated checks. We completed helium, liquid oxygen (LOX), and fuel loads to within tenths of a percent of T-zero conditions. Tanks pressed nominally and we passed all Terminal count, flight software, and ground software abort checks right down to T-2 seconds. We encountered a problem with the spin start system and aborted nominally. 

As part of the abort, we close the pre-valves to isolate the engines from the propellant tank and purge the residual propellants. The brief flames seen on the video are burn off of LOX and kerosene on the pad. The engines did not ignite and there was no engine fire.

We detanked and safed the vehicle and launch pad. Preliminary review shows all other systems required to reach full ignition were within specification. All other pad systems worked nominally. Inspections will be complete tonight. Tomorrow will consist of data review and procedure updates. Commodities will be replenished tomorrow including TEA TEB load, LOX and helium deliveries. 

We'll look to do the next static fire attempt in three or four days.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket static fire 1.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket static fire 2.


SpaceX's Falcon 9 Vertical at Cape Canaveral

SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle is now vertical at Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral. Following its mate to the transporter erector, Falcon 9 was rolled from the integration hangar to the launch pad where final checks of the pad hydraulic and pneumatic systems were completed. 

Falcon 9 is undergoing a checkout of the critical flight connections including fuel, liquid oxygen, and gas pressure systems. Once all system interfaces are verified, the SpaceX launch team will execute a full tanking test of both first and second stages (wet dress) followed by a brief ~3.5 static fire of the first stage. SpaceX has not set specific dates for wet dress or static fire as schedule will be driven by the satisfactory completion of all test objectives and a thorough review of the data.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at sunset.
Photo: Chris Thompson/SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket view from helicopter.
Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket vertical view
Photo: SpaceX
Click picture to see an enlargement that opens in a new window. - (February 21, 2010)

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral.
The Falcon 9 vehicle undergoes final integration in the hangar at the SpaceX launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The vehicle's nine Merlin 1C engines are at far left, and second stage is at far right.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket integration.
Flight hardware for the inaugural launch of Falcon 9 rocket undergoing final integration in the hangar at SpaceX's Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida. Components include: Dragon spacecraft qualification unit (left), second stage with Merlin Vacuum engine (center), first stage with nine Merlin 1C engines (right).

SPACEX ANNOUNCES FINAL ARRIVAL OF FALCON 9 FLIGHT HARDWARE AT CAPE CANAVERAL IN PREPARATION FOR INAUGURAL LAUNCH

Hawthorne, CA, FEBRUARY 11, 2010 – SpaceX Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces that all flight hardware for the debut launch of the Falcon 9 vehicle has arrived at the SpaceX launch site, Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Final delivery included the Falcon 9 second stage, which recently completed testing at SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas. SpaceX has now initiated full vehicle integration of the 47 meter (154 feet) tall, 3.6 meter (12 feet) diameter rocket, which will include a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit.

"We expect to launch in one to three months after completing full vehicle integration," said Brian Mosdell, Director of Florida Launch Operations for SpaceX. "Our primary objective is a successful first launch and we are taking whatever time necessary to work through the data to our satisfaction before moving forward."

Following full vehicle integration, SpaceX will conduct a static firing to demonstrate flight readiness and confirm operation of ground control systems in preparation for actual launch.

Though designed from the beginning to transport crew, SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft will initially be used to transport cargo. Falcon 9 and Dragon were selected by NASA to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) once Shuttle retires. The $1.6B contract represents 12 flights for a minimum of 20 tons to and from the ISS with the first demonstration flights beginning in 2010.


SPACEX COMPLETES DRAGON SPACECRAFT CARGO LOADING MILESTONE IN PREPARATION FOR DELIVERY SERVICES TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

Hawthorne, CA (February 03, 2010) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently conducted a three-day long demonstration of cargo loading and unloading procedures for its Dragon spacecraft, which NASA has contracted to provide delivery services to the International Space Station (ISS) starting in 2010.

SpaceX hosted a group of NASA personnel at its corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, including astronauts Marsha Ivins and Megan McArthur, and other key personnel from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The tests covered a range of procedures using actual NASA cargo modules, in a variety of standard sizes, including powered cargo modules that provide temperature control for sensitive items such as medical and biological samples during their journey to the ISS, and return to Earth. Dragon is currently one of the only spacecraft in the world capable of transmitting status on environment-sensitive cargo back to Earth during transit to the ISS.

SpaceX performed the tests in an actual flight Dragon spacecraft outfitted with cargo racks, stowage lockers, as well as interior lighting, telemetry and environmental systems, as will be employed while Dragon is berthed at the ISS.

"SpaceX was honored to host the NASA crew, and pleased by their positive feedback and remarks," said John Couluris, SpaceX Director of Mission Operations. "We look forward to the day when the first of many Dragons arrive at the ISS delivering actual cargo in support of continued ISS operations."

Under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, SpaceX will perform three flights of the Dragon spacecraft to demonstrate delivery of cargo to the ISS as well as returning cargo to Earth. Following those flights, SpaceX will begin the NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, conducting a minimum of 12 cargo flights between 2010 and 2015 with a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 is a medium-to-heavy lift, two-stage launch vehicle capable of lifting approximately 11 tons to low Earth orbit (LEO) and in excess of 4.5 tons to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). Designed to the highest levels of reliability and performance, SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft were selected by NASA to resupply the ISS when the Space Shuttle retires.

M03 standard cargo module
Single Cargo Transfer Bag
Loading a large M03 standard cargo module into the Dragon spacecraft via the overhead hatch (top of capsule). Credit: SpaceX
A SpaceX engineer installs a Single Cargo Transfer Bag into a storage compartment aboard the Dragon spacecraft. Credit: SpaceX


Monday, Feb. 1

Space Industry CEOs Host Teleconference to Discuss President Obama's 2011 Budget Request for Expanded Role of Commercial Space

Commercial Space Leaders Will Comment, Take Questions on NASA 2011 Budget Spending Priorities, and Discuss the Increased Role of Commercial Human Spaceflight

WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 1, 2010 – The Next Step in Space Coalition and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, two organizations representing businesses, organizations, and people working to ensure the future of U.S. human spaceflight, today will hold a joint teleconference for members of the media. Top CEOs of the commercial spaceflight industry will provide comments on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) FY2011 Budget which plans to increase funding and investment for private space companies to send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Participating commercial space industry executives will include among others:  

  • Bretton Alexander, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
  • Eric Anderson, President and CEO, Space Adventures
  • Robert Bigelow, CEO, Bigelow Aerospace
  • Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO, X PRIZE Foundation
  • Richard Garriott, private astronaut
  • Elon Musk, CEO and CTO, and Lawrence Williams, Vice President, SpaceX
  • Mark Sirangelo, Corporate Vice President, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems
  • About the Next Step Coalition

    The Coalition is a group of businesses, organizations, and people working toward making commercial human spaceflight a reality. Investment in commercial space will allow for full utilization of the International Space Station, enable NASA to focus its efforts beyond low-Earth orbit, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are reinvested in the United States and not spent overseas. Visit us at: www.nextstepinspace.com.   

    About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

    The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. CSF member organizations include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, and spaceports. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is governed by a board of directors, composed of the member companies' CEO-level officers and entrepreneurs. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org.

    SPACEX HOSTS PRELIMINARY TRAINING FOR NASA ISS ASTRONAUTS IN PREPARATION FOR DRAGON SPACECRAFT RENDEZVOUS AND STATION BERTHING

    Tracy Dyson & Elon Musk in Dragon Spacecraft
    ISS Expedition 23 Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson inside SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft with SpaceX's CEO and CTO, Elon Musk
    Astronauts with Elon Musk at SpaceX.
    NASA Astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Douglas Wheelock, Megan McArthur and Shannon Walker with SpaceX's CEO and CTO, Elon Musk
    Hawthorne, CA (December 3, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently conducted its first Dragon spacecraft operations training for a group of NASA astronauts and personnel at its corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. The October training focused on how the crew will interface with the Dragon spacecraft while it is approaching and berthed to the International Space Station (ISS). Three of the participating astronauts—Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock—will be on board the ISS when Dragon makes its first visit under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. 

    The astronauts were briefed on vehicle ingress and egress, habitability of the spacecraft, payload handling and commanding through SpaceX's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Communication Unit. The training was a key step in SpaceX's progress towards providing NASA an alternative for cargo transport to and from the ISS when the Space Shuttle retires.

    "This was the first time the NASA astronauts who will interact with Dragon during its early missions were actually inside a Dragon flight vehicle" said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO, SpaceX. "SpaceX was honored to host the ISS crew for this preliminary training exercise, and we look forward to serving NASA further under the COTS program and CRS contracts."

    Also in attendance were NASA astronauts Marsha Ivins and Megan McArthur, as well as other key NASA personnel from the NASA Astronaut Office and Mission Operations Directorates.

    Under the COTS program, SpaceX will execute three flights of the Dragon spacecraft. Dragon will pass in close proximity to, and berth with, the ISS as part of the second and third COTS missions, respectively. Upon completion of these demonstration flights, SpaceX will begin to fulfill the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for 12 cargo flights between 2010 and 2015 and represents a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS. 

    For more information about the Falcon family of vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft, please visit www.SpaceX.com.


    FORMER AIR FORCE COMMANDER JOINS SPACEX

     Colonel Scott Henderson Hawthorne, CA (November 9, 2009) –Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces that Colonel Scott Henderson has joined the company. He will serve as the director of Mission Assurance and Integration and will also handle Florida external relations, assisting with state and local governmental, customer and media relations. Henderson will primarily support former astronaut Ken Bowersox, vice president of SpaceX's Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance office, working out of the company's Florida office.

    Henderson joins SpaceX after 25 years in the United States Air Force (USAF), an experience that began by earning a degree in Astronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy. His prestigious career in the USAF included assignments in a wide variety of high level space operations and acquisition positions. A certified acquisition professional, Henderson has also earned a masters degree in Engineering Management from the Florida Institute of Technology and was a National Defense Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Prior to SpaceX, Henderson held the position of Commander with the 45th Launch Group at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida. His responsibilities in this position focused on Department of Defense (DoD), civil and commercial space launch-related activities. Henderson joins SpaceX just as the company is preparing for the first Falcon 9 launch from CCAFS. 

     "Scott Henderson brings a great deal of operational launch experience and technical expertise to our company," said Bowersox. "As we begin the first flights of the Falcon 9/Dragon system, Henderson will serve as a critical link between the SpaceX Safety, Mission Assurance, Operations and Integration teams."  


    SPACEX SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES FIRST STAGE 9-ENGINE ROCKET FIRING

     
    Falcon 9 First Stage test firing
    Falcon 9 nine engine test firing at SpaceX's Texas Test Sit
    Falcon 9 First Stage Headed to Cape Canaveral for Vehicle Integration

    McGregor, Texas (October 21, 2009) - Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully conducted two static firings of the first stage, nine engine cluster for its Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The firings took place at SpaceX's Texas Test Site, a 300-acre structural and propulsion testing facility just outside of Waco, Texas. With completion of these tests, the first stage has now passed both structural and propulsion acceptance testing and will ship to Cape Canaveral in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9.

    The first test fired for 10 seconds and occurred on October 12th at approximately 7:30 pm CDT. The second test began around 4:30 pm CDT on October 16th, and lasted 30 seconds. 

    The first stage of Falcon 9 uses a cluster of nine SpaceX-designed and developed Merlin engines. Using rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen, the cluster generates nearly a million pounds of thrust for the vehicle upon liftoff. The Merlin engine is one of the only liquid rocket engines designed in the United States in the last few decades, and is now among the highest performing gas generator cycle kerosene engines ever built, exceeding the Boeing Delta II main engine, the Lockheed Martin Atlas II main engine, and on par with the Saturn V F-1 engine.

    The stage will ship to SpaceX's launch site at Cape Canaveral next month to begin vehicle integration in preparation for first flight. The inaugural flight of Falcon 9 will be a demonstration flight and will launch a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit into orbit to provide SpaceX with valuable aerodynamic and performance information.

    For more information on the Falcon family of vehicles or the Dragon spacecraft products, please visit www.SpaceX.com.


    SPACEX ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF ACCEPTANCE TESTING FOR FALCON 9 FIRST AND SECOND STAGES

      Both Stages Headed To Cape Canaveral Next Month in Preparation for Launch

    Falcon 9 - 2nd stage by SpaceX
    A Falcon 9 second stage mounted on a Falcon 9 interstage vents vapor from its liquid oxygen tank during acceptance testing at SpaceX's Texas Test Site outside of Waco.
    McGregor, Texas (October 5, 2009) - Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the successful completion of acceptance testing of both the Falcon 9 first and second stages in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9. Acceptance testing took place at SpaceX's Texas Test Site, a 300-acre structural and propulsion testing facility, located just outside of Waco, Texas.

    This recent series of tests subjected both stages to a variety of structural load and proof pressure tests to verify acceptability for flight. Acceptance testing began in late summer with the first stage and concluded last week at SpaceX's Texas facility with completion of acceptance testing for the second stage.

    "The successful completion of these tests marks another key milestone in our preparation for Falcon 9's first flight," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "Our team will now move forward with a static fire of the first and second stages, the last major milestone before hardware is transferred to SpaceX's launch pad at Cape Canaveral." 

    The inaugural flight of Falcon 9 is a demonstration flight, and is expected to occur one to three months after Falcon 9 arrival at Cape Canaveral next month. The final launch date will depend on range scheduling, weather conditions and time required to make adjustments for any vehicle-to-ground equipment interactions. For its first flight, Falcon 9 will launch a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit into orbit to provide SpaceX with valuable aerodynamic and performance information.

    The second flight of the Falcon 9/Dragon system is the first flight under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, a new commercial-government partnership under which SpaceX will demonstrate the ability to dock with the International Space Station, transfer cargo, and return cargo safely to Earth.


    SPACEX ANNOUNCES SECOND DRAGONLAB USER CONFERENCE OCTOBER 29TH IN HAARLEM, NETHERLANDS

    Expressions of Interest Being Accepted at www.DragonLabUserConference.com

    fancy dragon 3 by SpaceX
    SpaceX DragonLab™ - a free-flying, fully-recoverable, reusable spacecraft capable of hosting pressurized and unpressurized payloads.
    Hawthorne, CA (October 1, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has announced a second user conference for its commercial product DragonLab™, a free-flying, reusable spacecraft capable of hosting pressurized and unpressurized payloads to and from orbit. The event will focus on the needs of European users and take place on October 29th, 2009, in Haarlem, Netherlands. 

    DragonLab provides a platform for in-space experimentation, including recovery of pressurized and some unpressurized payloads, as well as deployment of small spacecraft. As a complete system, DragonLab provides a highly capable spacecraft platform that includes propulsion, power, thermal control, environmental control, avionics, communications, thermal protection, flight software, guidance, navigation and control, entry, descent and landing, and recovery.

    The user conference is an opportunity for potential customers to fully explore DragonLab's capabilities, as well as present customer-specific interests and requirements. The agenda includes an overview of the Dragon spacecraft, concept of operations, payload accommodations and cost parameters. 

    DragonLab is an alternate configuration of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft which, along with the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, has been contracted by NASA to provide cargo resupply services to the International Space Station as early as 2010. 

    To express interest in attending the user conference, visit www.DragonLabUserConference.com.  

    Space is limited and all participants must receive confirmation from SpaceX in order to attend this workshop. For more information or questions regarding the user conference, please email DragonLab@spacex.com.


    SPACEX'S DRAGONEYE NAVIGATION SENSOR SUCCESSFULLY DEMONSTRATED ON SPACE SHUTTLE

    DragonEye LIDAR system images
    Images on right captured by the DragonEye LIDAR system during its recent flight aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour (ISS image courtesy NASA).
    http://www.spacex.com/assets/img/20090922_lidar.jpg
    Hawthorne, CA (September 25, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the successful demonstration of a proximity sensor, called DragonEye, on NASA's STS-127 shuttle mission. DragonEye launched aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on July 15th, 2009, and was tested in proximity of the International Space Station (ISS) in preparation for future visits by SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.

    With the help of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office, DragonEye, a Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor, has undergone flight system trials aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour in preparation for guiding the Dragon spacecraft as it approaches the ISS. The DragonEye LIDAR system provides three-dimensional images based on the amount of time it takes for a single laser pulse from the sensor to the reach a target and bounce back, providing range and bearing information from the Dragon spacecraft to the ISS.

    DragonEye will make its operational debut on the final flight of the Dragon spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, where the spacecraft will demonstrate the ability to berth with the ISS.

    Developed in just 10 months from concept to final hardware, DragonEye was delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center on February 16th, 2009, for integration with the Space Shuttle Endeavour, successfully completing all of NASA's payload safety milestones.

    Using flight data gathered onboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, DragonEye was able to detect the ISS and track it through various approach and departure maneuvers. Upon Endeavour's return, the DragonEye system was returned to SpaceX, where flight data from the sensor was retrieved and is currently under evaluation.

    "The verification and functionality of SpaceX's DragonEye are a testament to the unique government-commercial partnership created by NASA's COTS program," said Gwynne Shotwell, President, SpaceX. "SpaceX appreciates NASA's support with DragonEye and is proud to be a part of a program that is shaping the future of American spaceflight."

    Together with SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the Dragon spacecraft is under contract with NASA to provide cargo resupply to the ISS when the Space Shuttle retires. This contract includes 12 flights between 2010 and 2015, with a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to be carried to the ISS. SpaceX is the only COTS contender that has the capability to return cargo to Earth.

    Other photos: www.spacex.com/assets/img/20090922_shuttle.jpg & www.spacex.com/assets/img/20090922_thermal2.jpg


    SPACEX AND ASTRIUM ANNOUNCE GROUNDBREAKING DEAL

    Hawthorne, CA, September 8, 2009 – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Astrium announce a contract for a SpaceX Falcon 1e to launch an Earth observation satellite designed by Astrium or its recently acquired subsidiary Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL).

    The Falcon 1e is an 'enhanced' version of SpaceX's successful Falcon 1 launch vehicle. Designed from the ground up by SpaceX, the Falcon 1e has upgraded propulsion, structures and avionics systems in order to further improve reliability and bring to market increased mass-to-orbit capability to better serve the needs of the small satellite community. 

    Astrium and SSTL provide a range of innovative, cutting edge Earth Observation satellite products and through this agreement will be able to offer customers a turnkey solution, with in-orbit delivery of a low Earth orbit satellite system.

    The partnership between SpaceX and Astrium paves the way for potential future cooperation. "SpaceX's Falcon 1e launch vehicle was designed to provide the highest level of reliability as well as the lowest dedicated mission price of any orbital launch system," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "SpaceX is pleased to be the launch services provider for this mission."

    "This Falcon 1e contract allows Astrium to provide a competitive solution for in-orbit delivery of an Earth observation satellite in low Earth orbit," said Evert Dudok CEO of Astrium Satellites. "This deal will ultimately benefit customers seeking innovative and low-cost solutions for valuable Earth observation programs".


    SPACEX DELIVERS HARDWARE TO CAPE CANAVERAL IN PREPARATION FOR FLIGHT ABOARD STS-129 AND INTEGRATION WITH THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

     
    Space X UH FCommunication Unit
    Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Communication Unit delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in preparation for launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis.
    Hawthorne, CA (September 1, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces delivery of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Communication Unit to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in preparation for launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-129. The unit will be delivered by Atlantis to the International Space Station (ISS) and integrated in preparation for SpaceX's future flights to the orbiting laboratory. 

    Developed by SpaceX, in collaboration with NASA, the unit allows for communication between the ISS, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, and ground-based mission control. The system also allows the ISS crew to monitor an approaching or departing capsule. As part of NASA's COTS competition, SpaceX will conduct flights of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, culminating in Dragon berthing with the ISS and then returning to Earth.

    The unique public-private partnership created through the COTS program will allow SpaceX's Dragon to serve as a replacement for cargo transport to the ISS when the Space Shuttle retires. Upon completion of the COTS requirements, SpaceX will begin to fulfill the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, awarded by NASA in late 2008. The contract includes 12 cargo flights between 2010 and 2015 and represents a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS. Dragon will deliver pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the ISS and return pressurized cargo back to Earth.

    "SpaceX is pleased to have delivered the two-way communication system to the Cape in preparation for flight to the ISS," said Gwynne Shotwell, President, SpaceX. "The unit had to pass NASA's strict ISS safety standards and reviews, demonstrating our progress under the COTS program and laying the groundwork for future F9/Dragon flights to resupply cargo and possibly crew to the ISS when Shuttle retires."

    Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for launch no earlier than November 12, 2009, from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A.

    For more information about the Falcon family of vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft, please visit www.spacex.com.


    Marv Vander Weg
    Marv Vander Weg named SpaceX Vice President of EELV Acquisition

    VETERAN AEROSPACE LEADER VANDER WEG JOINS SPACEX AS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE EELV CUSTOMER OFFICE

    Hawthorne, CA (August 5, 2009) –Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the addition of Marv Vander Weg in the role of Vice President of the EELV Customer Office, where he will be responsible for acquiring and managing EELV missions for SpaceX's US Government customers. He will be located at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

    Vander Weg joins SpaceX from United Launch Alliance (ULA) where he was the Vice President for the Customer Program Office. In that role, Vander Weg was responsible for developing customer interfaces and enhancing customer satisfaction during the acquisition and execution of the contractual obligations for the Atlas and Delta launch vehicle programs.

    Prior to his time at ULA, Vander Weg served as the Director of the Atlas Government Program Office for Lockheed Martin's (LM) Atlas Program. Through this role, and various other assignments in acquisition and program management at LM, he gained extensive experience with the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, the NRO's Office of Space Launch, and the NASA-Kennedy launch programs.

     "Marv Vander Weg brings unique experience in managing the most complex US Government missions to the SpaceX team," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "That experience is critical in order to address the full range of Air Force, NASA and NRO launch needs, up to and including the world's largest satellites. Marv joining SpaceX is an endorsement of that vision."


    PACEX COMPLETES QUALIFICATION OF FALCON 9 FIRST STAGE TANK AND INTERSTAGE

    Falcon 9 first & interstage tests.
    A Falcon 9 first stage (green) and interstage (black) during structural qualification testing at SpaceX's Texas Test Site.
    McGregor, TX (July 29, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the successful completion of qualification testing for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle first stage tank and interstage. Testing took place at SpaceX's Texas Test Site, a 300 acre structural and propulsion testing facility, located just outside of Waco, Texas. 

      The first stage tank and interstage hardware were subjected to a proof test of 1.1 times the maximum expected operating pressure (MEOP), and a burst pressure proof test of 1.4 MEOP; qualifying both articles with a 1.4 factor of safety. The 1.4 factor of safety designation means that the first stage tank and the interstage can withstand 140 percent the maximum internal pressure expected during flight, and qualifies both pieces of hardware to meet human rating safety requirements, as defined by NASA. The first stage also passed this human rating milestone when subjected to structural bending tests.

    The testing regimen included over 150 pressurization cycles, exceeding the number of required life cycles by more than 100. In addition, the first stage and interstage were subjected to stiffness tests, maximum dynamic pressure loading and main engine cutoff conditions; all at expected values, as well as ultimate loads.

    "Falcon 9 continues to pass qualification testing in preparation for its first flight, scheduled for 2009," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "All hardware was designed to be man-rated, and these tests confirm that SpaceX is one step closer to flying humans on the Falcon 9/Dragon system."

    Falcon 9's first stage and interstage also passed ground wind qualification tests, critical for when the vehicle is vertical on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Both components were designed, built and tested by SpaceX. 

    For more information about the Falcon family of vehicles, and to watch a video tour of SpaceX's Texas Test Site, please visit www.spacex.com.


    SPACEX'S FALCON 1 SUCCESSFULLY DELIVERS RAZAKSAT SATELLITE TO ORBIT

    Falcon 1 liftoff delivering a satellite to orbit.
    Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 4 vehicle from Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll, at 4:15 p.m. (PDT) / 23:15 (UTC). It achieved an elliptical orbit of 621x643 km, 9.3 degrees inclination, and carried into orbit a payload mass simulator of approximately 165 kg (364 lbs), designed and built by SpaceX specifically for this mission. Photo credit: SpaceX.
    Hawthorne, CA (July 15, 2009) - Space Exploration Technologies (www.SpaceX.com) announces the successful launch of Falcon 1 spacex.com/falcon1.php#falcon1_overview and delivery of Malaysia's RazakSAT into the correct orbit.

    "This marks another successful launch by the SpaceX team," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "We are pleased to announce that Malaysia's RazakSAT, aboard Falcon 1, has achieved the intended orbit."

    Falcon 1, a two-stage, liquid oxygen/rocket-grade kerosene vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX, lifted off Monday, July 13, at 8:35 pm (PDT). Lift off occurred from the Reagan Test Site (RTS) on Omelek Island at the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii.

    RazakSAT was designed and built by Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd (ATSB), a pioneer and leader in the design and manufacture of satellites in Malaysia.

    "Our ground systems were able to pick up communication from RazakSAT on its first pass," said Norhizam Hamzah, Senior Vice President / Chief Technical Officer, Space Systems Division, ATSB. "The satellite is communicating as expected and our team will continue to monitor the data closely."

    Preliminary data indicates that the RazakSAT, equipped with a high resolution Medium-Sized Aperture Camera (MAC), achieved the intended Near-Equatorial Low Earth Orbit (NEqO) at 685 km altitude and a 9 degree inclination. The payload is expected to provide high resolution images of Malaysia that can be applied to land management, resource development and conservation, forestry and fish migration.

    For more information about the Falcon family of vehicles, and to watch the Falcon 1 Flight 5 video, visit the SpaceX website at www.SpaceX.com.


    Ken Bowersox
    Ken Bowersox named Vice President of Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance

    FORMER ASTRONAUT BOWERSOX JOINS SPACEX AS VICE PRESIDENT OF ASTRONAUT SAFETY AND MISSION ASSURANCE

    Hawthorne, CA (June 16, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces Ken Bowersox as vice president of the newly formed Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance Department. He will be co-located in Houston, Texas, and SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

    Bowersox joins SpaceX with over 19 years of experience at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Selected to the astronaut corps in 1987, he has flown five times on NASA's Space Shuttle, serving as pilot, commander and mission specialist, and once on a Russian Soyuz, where he served as the flight engineer during descent. During his five orbital missions, Bowersox has logged over 211 days in space, including five and a half months aboard the International Space Station (ISS), where he was the mission commander of the 6th expedition. He was also a crew member for the first two Hubble Space Telescope repair flights and two United States Microgravity Laboratory flights.

    Subsequent to his mission aboard the ISS, Bowersox served as the director of the Johnson Space Center's Flight Crew Operations Directorate, where he was responsible for the NASA Astronaut Office and all aircraft operations at the Johnson Space Center. Most recently, Bowersox has been working as an independent aerospace consultant, serving on the NASA standing review boards for Space Shuttle, ISS, Constellation, Orion and the Constellation Suit System.

    "Ken Bowersox is a critical asset to the SpaceX team, as we prepare for crewed missions aboard our Dragon spacecraft," said Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX. "His experience in the U.S. astronaut corps, and aboard the International Space Station, will be invaluable in shaping the future of commercial manned spaceflight." 


    SPACEX AND ATSB ANNOUNCE NEW LAUNCH DATE FOR RAZAKSAT SATELLITE

    Hawthorne, CA (June 1, 2009) - Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd (ATSB) of Malaysia announce a new launch window has been set for Falcon 1 Flight 5, carrying the RazakSAT satellite to orbit. The launch window opens Monday, July 13th and extends through Tuesday, July 14th, with a daily window to open at 4:00 p.m. (PDT) / 7:00 p.m. (EDT).

    The launch was delayed last month after SpaceX identified the potential for an unfavorable interaction between the satellite and the launch vehicle. After further analysis, SpaceX determined the implementation of a simple vibration isolation system would address this concern. SpaceX selected the SoftRide isolation system from CSA Engineering for this purpose, citing the system's strong flight heritage and established success in addressing vibration concerns.

    Falcon 1, a two-stage, liquid oxygen/rocket-grade kerosene vehicle designed from the ground up by SpaceX, will place the RazakSAT satellite, equipped with a high resolution Medium-Sized Aperture Camera (MAC), into a near equatorial orbit.

    RazakSAT was designed and built by ATSB, a pioneer and leader in the design and manufacture of satellites in Malaysia. The satellite is expected to provide high resolution images of Malaysia that can be applied to land management, resource development and conservation, forestry and fish migration.

    SpaceX's Falcon 1 launch site is located approximately 2500 miles southwest of Hawaii on Omelek Island, part of the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at United States Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific. Due to the location of the launch site, the Kwajalein local date at the opening of the launch window will be Tuesday, July 14th.

    SpaceX will provide live coverage of the Falcon 1 Flight 5/RazakSAT mission via webcast at www.SpaceX.com. The webcast will begin 20 minutes prior to launch and will include mission briefings, live feeds and launch coverage from the launch site. Post-launch, video footage and photos will be available for download on the Web site.


    SPACEX DRACO THRUSTER SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES QUALIFICATION TESTING

    Precision rocket engine to control Dragon spacecraft on approach to International Space Station

      McGregor, Texas (April 23, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully completed a rigorous qualification of its new Draco spacecraft thruster and Draco propulsion tank at the SpaceX Test Facility in McGregor, Texas.

    SpaceX Draco thruster engine firing
    The new SpaceX Draco thruster engine undergoing qualification test firing at the SpaceX Test Facility in McGregor, Texas. The Dragon spacecraft uses a total of 18 Draco thrusters for maneuvering, attitude control, and to initiate the capsule's return to Earth. First flight of the Dragon is scheduled for this year. Credit: SpaceX.  
    The Draco thruster test series included 42 firings with over 4,600 pulses of varying lengths and was performed in a vacuum test chamber to simulate the space environment. The series resulted in a total firing time of over 50 minutes on a single thruster.

    SpaceX Draco thruster engines firing to separate
    Graphic showing SpaceX Draco thruster engines firing to separate the Dragon spacecraft from the Falcon 9 second stage. Dragon uses a total of 18 Draco thrusters for maneuvering, attitude control, and to initiate the capsule's return to Earth. First flight of the Dragon is scheduled for this year. Credit: SpaceX.  
    SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, recently selected by NASA as part of their Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract to carry cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and return cargo to Earth, utilizes 18 Draco thrusters to provide precision control in orbit and while approaching the ISS.

    "The Draco thrusters allow Dragon to maneuver in close proximity to the ISS in preparation for berthing or docking," said Tom Mueller VP Propulsion, SpaceX. "Maximum control during these procedures is critical for the safety of the station and its inhabitants."

    Draco thrusters generate approximately 90 pounds of thrust using storable propellants with long on-orbit lifetimes. The use of these propellants provides the option for a crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft to remain berthed at the ISS for up to a year.

    SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to make its first flight in 2009 as part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Under COTS, SpaceX will demonstrate the Falcon 9 / Dragon system's ability to approach, berth, and transport cargo to and from the ISS. Following the demonstration of these capabilities, SpaceX will fly twelve cargo flights to the ISS for NASA's CRS contract.

    Falcon 9, SpaceX's medium lift rocket, is scheduled for its inaugural flight later this year from SpaceX's launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida.


    RAZAKSAT LAUNCH POSTPONED

    Hawthorne, CA (April 20, 2009) – Due to a potential compatibility issue between the RazakSAT spacecraft and Falcon 1 launch vehicle, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd (ATSB) have agreed to postpone the launch of ATSB's RazakSAT satellite.

    While both the Falcon 1 vehicle and satellite passed all preliminary checkouts and are cleared for launch, a concern has been identified regarding the potential impact of predicted vehicle environments on the satellite. Based on these concerns, the SpaceX team is evaluating options to minimize this impact and ensure mission success.

    "SpaceX is committed to the safety and success of our customer's payloads," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "Our engineers are addressing this issue and we look forward to launching RazakSAT once the issue is fully understood and resolved."

    "Both teams are confident the issue will be resolved," said Dr. Ahmad Sabirin, CEO of ATSB. "We are all looking forward to a successful launch."

    Updates and information regarding a new launch date will be available on www.SpaceX.com.


    SPACEX SIGNS ARGENTINA'S SPACE AGENCY FOR TWO FALCON 9 LAUNCHES

    Pair of SAOCOM Earth Observation Satellites to Launch between 2012 & 2013

    Hawthorne, California (April 16, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has signed an agreement with CONAE, Argentina's National Commission on Space Activity, for two launches aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 medium-to-heavy lift vehicle. The flights will send the SAOCOM 1A and 1B Earth observation satellites into sun-synchronous orbits, where they will provide imagery for natural resources monitoring, as well as emergency and disaster management.

    The identical SAOCOM satellites each carry an L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument. Among other civil applications, the main purpose of the constellation is the measurement of the soil moisture over the Pampa Húmeda in Argentina. The two SAOCOM satellites will join four X-band SAR COSMO-SkyMed satellites from the Italian Space Agency (ASI), creating the Italian-Argentine System of Satellites for Emergency Management (SIASGE) constellation. The first three of the ASI satellites were launched in 2007 and 2008 with the fourth expected to fly in 2010.

    "SpaceX is excited to be CONAE's launch service provider for the SAOCOM 1A and 1B missions," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "The Falcon 9 launch vehicle has been designed to the highest level of reliability and performance; we look forward to helping ensure the success of the SAOCOM satellites."

    The inaugural flight of Falcon 9 is scheduled for this year, with the first Dragon spacecraft scheduled to fly on a subsequent launch, both from SpaceX's launch facility at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

    About CONAE

    CONAE (Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, or in English, National Space Activities Commission) is Argentina's civilian agency in charge of national space activities. They have launched three satellites to date, and have numerous joint space efforts with Argentine industry and academia, as well as governmental space agencies around the world, including NASA, CSA, AEB/INPE (Brazil), ASI, CNES, ESA and agencies of several other nations.


    March 30, 2009

    SPACEX TO LAUNCH ATSB'S RAZAKSAT

    Hawthorne, CA (March 12, 2009) - Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces that the launch window for ATSB's RazakSAT on Falcon 1 Flight 5, is currently scheduled to open Monday, April 20th at 4:00 p.m. (PDT) / 7:00 p.m. (EDT).

    SpaceX's Falcon 1 launch site is located approximately 2500 miles southwest of Hawaii on Omelek Island, part of the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at United States Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific. Due to the location of the launch site, the Kwajalein local date at the opening of the launch window will be April 21st.

    RazakSAT was designed and built by Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd (ATSB), a pioneer and leader in the design and manufacture of satellites in Malaysia. The satellite will be launched aboard the Falcon 1, a two-stage, liquid oxygen/rocket-grade kerosene vehicle, designed from the ground up by SpaceX.

    Falcon 1 will place RazakSAT, equipped with a high resolution Medium-Sized Aperture Camera (MAC), into a near equatorial orbit. The payload is expected to provide high resolution images of Malaysia that can be applied to land management, resource development and conservation, forestry and fish migration.

    SpaceX will provide live coverage of the Falcon 1 Flight 5/RazakSAT mission via webcast at: www.SpaceX.com. The webcast will begin 20 minutes prior to launch and will include mission briefings, live feeds and launch coverage from the launch site. Post-launch, video footage and photos will be available for download on the Web site.


    March 10, 2009

    SPACEX FALCON 9 UPPER STAGE ENGINE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES FULL MISSION DURATION FIRING

    New Merlin Vacuum engine demonstrates highest efficiency for an American hydrocarbon rocket engine

    McGregor, Texas (March 09, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) successfully conducted a full mission duration firing of its new Merlin Vacuum engine on March 7, at SpaceX's Test Facility in McGregor, Texas. The engine fired for a full six minutes, consuming 100,000 pounds of liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene propellant.

    The new engine, which powers the upper stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle, demonstrated a vacuum specific impulse of 342 seconds – the highest efficiency ever for an American hydrocarbon rocket engine. Thrust was measured at approximately 92,500 lb of force in vacuum conditions and the engine remained thermally stable over the entire run.

    "Specific impulse, or Isp, indicates how efficiently a rocket engine converts propellant into thrust," said Tom Mueller, Vice President of Propulsion for SpaceX. "With a vacuum Isp of 342 seconds, the new Merlin Vacuum engine has exceeded our requirements, setting a new standard for American hydrocarbon engine performance in space."

    Based on the Merlin 1C engine that boosted the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket to orbit in 2008, the Merlin Vacuum engine uses a regeneratively cooled combustion chamber. However, the vacuum engine features a larger exhaust section than the Merlin 1C and a much larger radiatively cooled expansion nozzle, in order to maximize performance in the vacuum of space.

    The Merlin Vacuum engine provides the final push that delivers customer spacecraft into their desired orbits. A redundant ignition system ensures the engine can shut down and restart multiple times. The engine can also operate at a reduced thrust to achieve optimum performance. During recent tests, the engine was successfully throttled down to 75 percent of maximum thrust, and upcoming tests will demonstrate throttling to approximately 60 percent of maximum thrust.

    "Falcon 9 was designed from the ground up to provide our customers with breakthrough advances in reliability," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "In successfully adapting our flight tested first stage engine for use on the second stage, this recent test further validates the architecture of Falcon 9, designed to provide customers with high reliability at a fraction of traditional costs."

    SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft were recently selected by NASA to resupply cargo to the International Space Station after the shuttle retires in 2010. The inaugural flight of Falcon 9 is scheduled for later this year from SpaceX's launch pad SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

    SpaceX Merlin Vacuum second stage engine undergoing a mission-length test firing. SpaceX Merlin Vacuum second stage engine in action.
    The new SpaceX Merlin Vacuum second stage engine undergoing a mission-length test firing at the SpaceX Test Facility in McGregor, Texas. The engine will power the upper stage on the inaugural flight of the new Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, scheduled for later this year. Credit: SpaceX. Illustration of the new SpaceX Merlin Vacuum second stage engine in action. The large expansion nozzle increases the engine's performance in the vacuum of space. Credit: SpaceX.


    March 4, 2009

    Rob Peckham Joins SpaceX as New VP of Business Development

      Hawthorne, CA (March 04, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announces Rob Peckham has joined the company as Vice President of Business Development. In this role, Peckham's primary responsibilities include the development and expansion of SpaceX's customer base across its family of launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft, as well as leading the sales, marketing and mission management teams.

    Rob Peckham of SpaceX
    Rob Peckham, Vice President of Business Development, SpaceX.
    Most recently, Rob served as President and General Manager of Sea Launch, the international launch services consortium formed by four companies: Boeing Commercial Space, Energia of Russia, SDO Yuzhnoye / PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine, and Aker Solutions of Norway. During his nine years with Sea Launch, Peckham oversaw commercial sales in excess of one billion dollars and substantial growth of the company during its transition to a fully operational launch system.

    Prior to Sea Launch, Peckham worked for Hughes Space and Communications, where he managed the company's strategic long term launch agreements, and McDonnell Douglas where he was responsible for establishing business relationships with domestic and international customers for commercial Delta launch services.

    Rob has extensive experience working with global customers, partners, and manufacturers, and leading multi-cultural teams. He earned an MBA degree from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and a BA degree from California State University in Chico.

    Rob will report to President Gwynne Shotwell, who previously held the VP of Business Development position.

    "Rob's global space business and leadership experience will be invaluable as we expand our roster of commercial launches," said Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. "We are pleased that Rob has chosen to join the SpaceX team."

    The SpaceX launch manifest currently lists two dozen launches for domestic and international customers, including a dozen flights for NASA to resupply the International Space Station beginning in 2010.


    January 23, 2009

    SpaceX Donates Launch To Heinlein Prize Trust Microgravity Competition

    Hawthorne, CA (January 23, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announced the donation of experimental payload space aboard an upcoming flight of their Dragon spacecraft to support the Heinlein Trust Microgravity Research Competition.

    The winner's experimental payload will remain in the microgravity environment for an extended period of time before returning to Earth. Historically, these opportunities have been limited by availability on Shuttle, often involving a waiting period of many years.

    "SpaceX is excited to offer our Dragon spacecraft as a platform for in-space experimentation services to mainstream researchers," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and CTO. "We plan to fly 'DragonLab' missions starting in 2010 for this express purpose," Musk said.

    SpaceX has partnered with the Heinlein Prize Trust and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University in order to promote innovation in the field of microgravity research.

    Details on the competition can be found at: http://www.heinleinprize.com/news/microgravity.html

    For applications and rules please visit: http://www.labflight.com.


    SpaceX logo

    SpaceX Dragon spacecraft - a free-flying, recoverable, reusable vehicle capable of hosting pressurized and unpressurized payloads. It will carry a microgravity experiment to Earth orbit for the winning entrant to the Heinlein Prize Trust Microgravity Competition.


    January 12, 2009

    SPACEX'S FALCON 9 ON LAUNCH PAD AT CAPE CANAVERAL

    Launch vehicle selected by NASA to replace the cargo transportation function of the Space Shuttle conducts launch pad system checks in preparation for test flight later this year

    Blue Arrow

    Arclights illuminate the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as it stands vertical on its pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

    HAWTHORNE, CA – January 12, 2009 – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announced its Falcon 9 launch vehicle was successfully raised to vertical on Saturday, January 10, 2009, at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, Florida — two days ahead of schedule. This operation was a critical step in validating a variety of system interfaces and launch processes in preparation for the maiden flight of Falcon 9 later this year.

    "Any engineered system has requirements that can only be recognized through actual assembly of real hardware," stated Brian Mosdell, Director of Florida Launch Operations for SpaceX. "This rapid integration and stand-up provided our engineers and technicians with invaluable insights that will greatly streamline our effort towards the first Falcon 9 launch in 2009."

    SpaceX completed the Falcon 9 vehicle integration in a horizontal position on December 30, 2008. After integration, Falcon 9 was lifted and mated to a transporter erector system, designed and built by SpaceX, which carried the 17 foot diameter, 180 foot long rocket to the launch pad. On January 10, 2009 at 12:45 PM EST, SpaceX began the process of raising Falcon 9 and approximately 30 minutes later, Falcon 9 stood vertical at the Cape.

    "This entire process has helped us validate key interfaces and operations prior to executing our launch campaign with the vehicle in its final flight configuration," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "We encountered no show-stoppers or significant delays. I am highly confident that we will achieve our goal of being able to go from hangar to liftoff in under 60 minutes, which would be a big leap forward in capability compared with the days to weeks required of other launch vehicles."

    This latest accomplishment follows closely on a series of recent successes for SpaceX. In November 2008, SpaceX successfully conducted a full mission duration firing of Falcon 9, validating SpaceX's use of nine engines on the first stage, as well as the ability to shut down engines without affecting the remaining engines. In December 2008, NASA selected the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft as the primary means of transporting cargo to and from the International Space Station after the Space Shuttle retires in 2010.

    Photos and video of the Falcon 9 vertical operations can be found on our website at www.SpaceX.com.

    info



    About ATSB®

      Astronautic Technology Sdn. Bhd. (ATSB) was established to thrust Malaysia into the orbit of nations with space satellite technology. ATSB focuses on research and development in the area of design and development of space qualified systems employing advanced and innovative technologies.

    As the pioneer and leader in the small satellite business in Malaysia, ATSB has recorded numerous achievements within a short span of time. These include the design, development, launch and operation of Malaysia's first micro-satellite, the TiungSAT-1. This hereditary knowledge leads to the design and development of the second micro-satellite, the RazakSAT and also the undertaking of Malaysia's high-technology intensive programmes. For more information, please visit the company's web site at www.atsb.my .


    About CSA Engineering

    CSA Engineering delivers products and services in vibration suppression, precision motion and noise control. CSA has a 27-year history of meeting customer needs in government programs and commercial products, specializing in aerospace vehicles, structures and components.

    A three-time winner of U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) awards, CSA was named the National Small Business Government Contractor for the year 2002. CSA was also acknowledged with the SBIR Tibbetts Award, and has received commendations from Boeing, Lockheed, NASA, Orbital Sciences, TRW and others.

    CSA Engineering is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Moog Inc. and is part of Moog's Space and Defense Group. For more information, please visit the company's web site at www.csaengineering.com .


    ^ TOP ^
     


    Titusville is a wonderfully varied community.
     
    HOME

    Titusville Area     Businesses

    Calendar/Events
        Festivals
    Places to Go
        Things to Do
        Ecotourism
    About the NBBD

    Community
    Organizations

    Government

    Maps
    Get out and go!

    Keeping you up to date with what's going on.

    Keeping you up-to-date with what is available and what is going on in the Titusville, FL area. Contact the webmaster for most anything by
    CLICKING HERE

    the North Brevard Area
    Produced by Peak Performance Co.
    nbbdcom@gmail.com
    Last updated: 5/30/14 — © 1996 - 2014
    Your Titusville area business web site, web page, or web card on this Community Directory. We can register, produce, host and market your Internet presence.
    Click to uncover many Soft Adventures in North Brevard.
    LOTS TO DO in North Brevard.
    We challenge you to discover them!

    2/20/09