SpaceX Starship SN3 Collapses During Cryo Test

Video Caption: Starship SN3 collapsed during a cryogenic proof test designed to validate the vehicle ahead of a planned static fire and 150-meter hop. SpaceX will now have to instead focus on future Starship builds.

Footage via Mary (@BocaChicaGal) for NSF and edited by Jack Beyer (thejackbeyer)

Video Caption: Another very disappointing end to the week with SpaceX SN3 Starship Destroyed. Looks like the Liquid Oxygen Tank Crumpled. This is quite disappointing as we had huge hopes for the SN 3 because it looked just so much more robust. The welds were looking really beautiful.

The SN 4 is already being built so we can look forward to that which is going come up rapidly much quicker than most people would realize.

A huge thank you to Boca Chica girl with NASAspaceflight and also LabPadre links to both of those incredibly awesome channels below.

Editor’s Note: It’s disconcerting that work on this project is continuing during the coronavirus pandemic. I reviewed the video above that shows the stacking of the the Starship prototype that collapsed on the test stand this morning.

Credits: BocaChicaGal, NASASpaceflight.com & Marcus House

The above screenshot taken at 4:54 into the video shows employees working closely together without observing the six feet social distancing guidelines or wearing protective masks to guard against infecting each other with the deadlly COVID-19 virus.

Any one of these workers could have the virus for a week without showing any symptoms. During that time, an infected worker could unknowingly pass COVID-19 onto his co-workers. The result of that could be severe illness or death. Even young, seemingly healthy individuals have died when their respiratory systems collapsed.

SpaceX is legally exempt from closing its doors because it is classified as an essential business. That is due to the fact that Elon Musk’s company is a government contractor that performs vital, time critical work for NASA and the Department of Defense.

Starship, however, does not appear to be either vital or time critical. It’s a long-term development project that SpaceX is funding on its own. Neither NASA nor DOD is going to use Starship at any time in the near future. Their launch needs are satisfied by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as well as the nation’s fleet of expendable boosters.

SpaceX’s goal of preserving humanity by making it a multi-planetary species is noble enough. It doesn’t need to place the humans making that possible at unnecessary risk in the midst of a deadly global pandemic.

SpaceX Get Approval for 1 Million Starlink Ground Stations in USA

60 Starlink satellites begin to separate after deployment from the Falcon 9 second stage. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted SpaceX to deploy up to one million ground stations to connect users to its Starlink satellite broadband service.

Each ground station is just under 19 inches (.48 m) across.

“It looks like a UFO on a stick,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said earlier this month. “It’s very important that you don’t need a specialist to install. The goal is for … just two instructions and they can be done in either order: Point at sky, plug in.”

SpaceX has launched 362 Starlink satellites as part of a constellation that could eventually total 42,000. The FCC has given Musk’s company approval to launch nearly 12,000 spacecraft. The company has submitted paperwork to place another 30,000 into orbit.

SpaceX plans to launch additional groups of 60 satellites roughly every two weeks aboard Falcon 9 boosters. The company hopes to begin service in the United States later this year.

Musk has said Starlink satellites will be able to deliver high-speed broadband service with latency below 20 milliseconds.

Report: OneWeb to File for Bankruptcy

The Financial Times reports that OneWeb is preparing to file for bankruptcy and lay off most of its employees after failing to obtain additional financing from investors to continue building out its satellite broadband constellation.

OneWeb collapses after SoftBank funding talks fall through

The story is behind a paywall, so I don’t have a lot of details at this point. OneWeb will apparently keep a small team in place to operate the 74 satellites the company has launched into orbit while it seeks addition funding needed to emerge from bankruptcy.

Attempts to obtain additional funding from the company’s main backer, SoftBank, fell through.

The news comes less than a week after a Russian Soyuz booster launched 34 OneWeb satellites. Two previous launches in February 2019 and February 2020 had orbited 6 and 34 spacecraft, respectively.

OneWeb, which was founded by Greg Wyler, has been planning to launch 680 satellites in order to provide broadband services to any location on Earth.

The company’s main competitor is SpaceX, which has launched 362 satellites as part of its Starlink constellation. SpaceX has received approvals to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites. Elon Musk’s company has also submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission to launch an additional 30,000 spacecraft to bring the total to 42,000.

Elon Musk Criticized for Downplaying Coronavirus Risk

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk has been downplaying the risk of the Coronavirus to his employees and millions of Twitter followers while thousands of people have become sick and died, hospitals have run short of food and medical supplies, and normal life has come to a grinding halt around the globe,

The coronavirus panic is dumb,” Musk said in a tweet last week that has been criticized as minimizing the risks of what the World Health Organization has declared to be a deadly global pandemic.

BuzzFeed News reports on a company-wide email Musk sent to SpaceX employees:

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Starship Goes Boom at Boca Chica

A cryo test went sideways in Texas on Friday night.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

SpaceX’s Starship vehicle was turned into a pile of debris on Friday evening at Boca Chica Beach in Texas.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

First, vapor appeared around the rocket at ground level.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

Then everything went boom.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

And boom.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

When the smoke and flames cleared, a pile of debris was revealed.

SpaceX Could Launch 70 Times From Florida in 2023

Mobile service tower surrounding Falcon Heavy booster. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX would be launching up to 70 times annually from Florida by 2023, including polar orbit launches that are not currently conducted from the Sunshine State.

Elon Musk’s rocket company is also planning to construct a mobile service tower (MST) to support commercial and national security launches from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

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SpaceX Looks to Raise More Money

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

CNBC reports that SpaceX is looking to raise another round of funding.

The company is seeking to bring in about $250 million at a price of $220 a share, according to people familiar with the financing. The new raise would value SpaceX at around $36 billion, up from $33.3 billion  previously.

The round is not expected to close until the second week of March, those people told CNBC, and includes an equivalent purchase offer to existing SpaceX shareholders.

SpaceX did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment. The details of the raise could change depending on market conditions between now and the second week of March.

Last year SpaceX raised $1.33 billion across three funding rounds. It’s one of the most valuable private companies in the world and, with consistently oversubscribed capital raises, SpaceX shares rank as some of the most in demand of any pre-IPO companies as well.

The steady fundraising comes as SpaceX continues development on three important programs: Crew Dragon, Starlink and Starship.

Shotwell: SpaceX Could Spinoff Starlink as IPO

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said today the company could spin off its Starlink satellite broadband business with an initial public offering (IPO) on the stock market, Bloomberg reports.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has already launched more than 240 satellites to build out Starlink, which will start delivering internet services to customers from space this summer, President Gwynne Shotwell said Thursday at a private investor event hosted by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Miami.

“Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” said Shotwell, SpaceX’s chief operating officer. “That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public.”

Investors have to this point had limited ways to own a piece of SpaceX, which has become one of the most richly valued venture-backed companies in the U.S. by dominating the commercial rocket industry. It flies satellites into orbit for customers including the U.S. military, carries cargo to the International Space Station and aims to start flying  NASA  astronauts and high-paying tourists soon.

An IPO likely would be welcomed by some SpaceX employees and investors. [SpaceX CEO Elon] Musk has been reluctant to force SpaceX to endure the scrutiny that comes with being a public company and to reveal the details of SpaceX’s financials. This has left employees sitting on valuable stock, which they’re typically only able to sell during a limited number of private transactions. An IPO for Starlink might also allow its longtime backers to register gains on their high-risk investment.

Musk has always said that he would not take SpaceX public until it was ferrying colonists to his planned settlement on Mars.

SpaceX has approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites into Earth orbit. Last year, it applied for permission to add 30,000 spacecraft to that total.

Musk’s company has also been approved to apply for a license to offer Starlink services in Australia.

SpaceX Seeks FCC Approval to Fly Starship to 20 Km

Starship on the moon. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for communications frequencies to fly its Starship vehicle to an altitude of 20 km (12.4 miles) at its Boca Chica Beach facility in Texas.

The approval would allow for communications between the vehicle and the ground. The proposed six-month time frame for the flight is from March 16 to Sept. 16, 2020.

Starship is a prototype of an orbital vehicle that Elon Musk’s company is developing for missions in Earth orbit and to the moon and Mars. SpaceX also hopes to use it for rapid point-to-point transportation between distant cities on earth.

SpaceX, Kepler and Swarm Included on Australian List of Foreign Providers

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Australian government has approved SpaceX, Swarm Technologies and Kepler Communications for inclusion on a list of foreign companies allowed to seek approvals to provide communications services in the country.

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Moonaut Maezawa Ends Cosmic Dating Show

Yusaku Maezawa at SpaceX headquarters. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

The bachelor in space reality show is officially over even before it started.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has pulled out of AbemaTV’s reality show search for a girlfriend to accompany him on a voyage around the moon aboard SpaceX’s Starship vehicle.

Reuters reports Maezawa is “extremely remorseful’ over his decision to end his participation in a program that drew almost 28,000 applicants.

SpaceX Says Destroyed Starship Wasn’t Going to Fly Anyway

SpaceX said the Starship Mk1 vehicle that exploded at its Boca Chica Beach test facility on Wednesday wasn’t going to fly, despite what company Founder Elon Musk had promised during a webcast in September.

“The decision had already been made to not fly this test article and the team is focused on the Mk3 builds, which are designed for orbit,”  the company said in a statement.

The rocket, constructed out of stainless steel, literally blew its top while it was undergoing a pressurization test.

“The purpose of today’s test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected,” SpaceX said. “There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback.”

During a webcast from Boca Chica on Sept. 28, Musk stood in front of the vehicle and said it it would fly to 65,000 (19.8 km) within a month or two. He also said he hoped an upgraded variant of Starship would make an orbital flight within six months.

The SpaceX founder also talked about rapid iteration of the vehicle. Starships are being developed at Boca Chica and a site in Florida.

SpaceX is developing Starship for missions to Earth orbit, the moon and Mars. Musk has also pitched the spacecraft as a civilian transport for rapid point to point travel between distant locations on Earth.

For space missions, Starship will be teamed with a first-stage booster known as the Super Heavy.

SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9 first stage performs an entry burn as the second stage continues to orbit. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX successfully launched 60 Starlink satellites on Monday, doubling the number of spacecraft in the broadband Internet constellation.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on time at 9:56 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellites were deployed an hour after liftoff.

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