SpaceX to Launch Majority of 4,000 Starlink Satellites From Cape Canaveral

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with a Dragon resupply ship on April 2, 2018. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The draft environmental assessment for SpaceX’s proposed expansion at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) also revealed that Elon Musk’s rocket company plans to most of more than 4,000 satellites of its planned Starlink constellation from Cape Canaveral.

That will guarantee a busy schedule for SpaceX’s Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at KSC and LC-40 at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). LC-39A can accommodate Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters while LC-40 is configured for the Falcon 9.

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U.S. Launch Providers Plan Busy Year in 2016

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

The United States has a very busy launch year ahead if all 33 flights currently on the manifest go off as planned. Given the tendency of launches to slip and rockets to occasionally go boom, that is a very big “if”.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX each have 15 launches penciled in this year, according to the latest update to Spaceflight Now’s Launch Schedule page. Orbital ATK has plans for three launches during 2016. (more…)

Space Florida Appoves Deal With Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin

Brig. Gen. Steven Garland, 14th Air Force vice commander, left, provides remarks at a Blue Origin media event held at Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Sept 15, 2015. (Credit: USAF/Matthew Jurgens)
Brig. Gen. Steven Garland, 14th Air Force vice commander, left, provides remarks at a Blue Origin media event held at Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Sept 15, 2015. (Credit: USAF/Matthew Jurgens)

The Space Florida board of directors has approved a deal with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin giving the company rights to a Cape Canaveral launch pad and land for a facility to manufacture rockets.

Blue Origin will lease Launch Complex 36 from Space Florida, which controls the pad through November 2019. The company at some point is expected to lease the facility directly from the Air Force.

Blue Origin will pay for all improvements to the launch complex and for its ongoing maintenance.

Bezos last month said the company planned to build a large processing facility there and a stand for test-firing BE-4 rocket engines — powered by liquefied natural gas and producing 550,000 pounds of thrust — to be sure they are ready for launch….

In addition, Blue Origin will sub-lease from Space Florida 139 acres of NASA property at Exploration Park for its rocket factory. That agreement initially runs through 2030, with renewal options available until 2065.

In total, Blue Origin is expected to invest between $205 million and $220 million in local infrastructure, eventually creating 330 jobs with average wages of about $89,000. The company will receive at least $18 million in state incentives, including $8 million from the North Brevard Economic Development Zone.

 

KSC Continues Transformation to Multi-User Spaceport

Orion Exploration Flight Test launch. (Credit: NASA)
Orion Exploration Flight Test launch. (Credit: NASA)

By Frank Ochoa-Gonzales
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The year 2014 proved to be of the banner variety for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Kennedy’s diverse new identity on full display as NASA prepares America for its next journey into deep space.

In the quest to transform Kennedy in to the world’s eminent multi-user spaceport, employees have helped prepare, launch and recover Orion; establish, ready and process research and cargo bound for the International Space Station and partner with Boeing and SpaceX to develop human-rated spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS by 2017.

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Draft Environmental Report Backs SpaceX Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral

Proposed SpaceX landing facility (Credit: Gator Engineering & Aquifer Restoration, Inc.)
Proposed SpaceX landing facility (Credit: Gator Engineering & Aquifer Restoration, Inc.)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A draft environmental assessment supports a plan to land SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy first stages at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), subject to efforts to mitigate adverse impacts on wildlife.

The proposed location is Launch Complex 13 (LC-13), which was used to launch Atlas rockets from 1958 to 1978. The U.S. Air Force has since demolished the blockhouse, mobile launch tower and associated infrastructure.

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MAVEN Set for Launch Monday, NASA Schedules Public Viewing Events

Atlas V with MAVEN aboard on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)
Atlas V with MAVEN aboard on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

LATEST UPDATES:

Monday Morning

The launch teams are starting the steps to load about 50,000 gallons of liquid oxygen into the first stage of the Atlas V. The lines and tanks have been chilled to accept the minus-297 degree propellant. About 26,000 gallons of refined kerosene, or RP-1, flowed into the first stage fuel tanks during the wet dress rehearsal a couple of weeks ago. Since kerosene doesn’t have to be kept cold the way the cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuel for the Centaur do, the fuel stayed inside the Atlas tank.

Weather Forecast Remains 60 Percent “Go”
November 17, 2013 – 9:45 AM EST

Forecasters from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict a 60 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft at 1:28 p.m. EST Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41. MAVEN is scheduled to liftoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V at the beginning of a two hour launch window. Teams are working no technical issues and the countdown is targeted to pick up from the T-6 hour, 20 minute mark at 6:28 a.m. Monday.

NASA Public Viewing Events

Five NASA centers in Washington, Maryland, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia will host events and activities Monday, Nov. 18, for the public to view the launch of the agency’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft and learn about its mission.

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Busy Launch Week Begins on Monday with MAVEN Flight

Launch of Atlas V NRO satellite on June 20, 2012. (Credit: ULA)
Launch of Atlas V NRO satellite on June 20, 2012. (Credit: ULA)

The numbers are impressive.

  • 6 launches
  • 6 launch vehicles
  • ~ 40 satellites
  • 5 spaceports
  • 4 nations
  • 7 days.

That is the week in rocketry that will begin on Monday. The highlights include:

  • NASA’s MAVEN orbiter will study Mars’ atmosphere and climate (Monday, Nov. 18 at 1:28 p.m. EST — Cape Canaveral, Florida );
  • Minotaur I will set a new record for the number of satellites launched into space with by sending the military’s STPSat 3 and 29 CubeSats into orbit (Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 7:30 to 9:15 pm EST — Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Virginia);
  • SpaceX will attempt to put its first communications satellite into geosynchronous orbit using its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket (Monday, Nov. 25 at 5:37 pm EST — Cape Canaveral, Florida).

Three additional launches will take place from Russia and Kazakhstan over that 7-day period. A table with all scheduled launches is below along with a map showing East Coast residents how they can view Minotaur I’s night launch on Tuesday.

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