SpaceX, T-Mobile to Unveil Collaboration on Connectivity on Thursday

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO and President Mike Sievert will unveil how the two companies are working to increase connectivity on Thursday night. Details are vague, but it most likely involves cooperation between SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband network and T-Mobile’s cellular phone network.

The presentation will take place at 8 p.m. EDT from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in south Texas. The event will be livestreamed on SpaceX.com.

Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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SpaceX Launches 53 Starlink Satellites in Second Flight in Two Days

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 24, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX launches a fresh batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites into orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the company’s second launch of Starlink satellites in two days after a Falcon 9 placed 46 satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

It was SpaceX’s sixth launch of July and 20th dedicated Starlink flight of 2022. Elon Musk’s company has launched a record 33 times since Jan. 1 with more than five months left in the year. The company has orbited just under 1,250 payloads.

SpaceX Launches
January – July 24, 2022

SpacecraftSatellite Type(s)Customer(s)Number of LaunchesSatellites/ Payloads/Crew
StarlinkBroadbandSpaceX201,013
Transporter-3, -4, -5Multiple RideshareMultiple3204
Crew-4, Axiom-1Human SpaceflightNASA, Axiom Space22
Crew-4, Axiom-1Human SpaceflightNASA, Axiom Space–*8
Cargo Dragon 2ISS ResupplyNASA11
BeaverCube, CapSat-1, CLICK A, D3, JAGSAT, TUMnanoSatTechnology Demonstration, EducationERAU Daytona Beach, MIT, The Weiss School, University of South Alabama, Technical University of Moldova–^6
Globalstar FM15, Nilesat-301, SES-22Commercial CommunicationsGlobalstar, Nilesat, SES33
USA-328, 329, 330, 331UnknownU.S. Department of Defense+4
NROL-87, Intruder 13A, Intruder 13BReconnaissance, Electronic IntelligenceNational Reconnaissance Office23
SARah-1ReconnaissanceBundeswehr (German Military)11
COSMO-SkyMed 2nd-generationEarth Observation (civilian/military)Italian Space Agency11
331,246
* 8 astronauts launched on Crew-4 and Ax-1 missions
^ 6 CubeSats flown on Cargo Dragon 2 to be deployed from ISS
+ Secondary payloads on Globalstar FM15 launch

SpaceX has launched 1,013 Starlink satellites this year and 2,911 spacecraft overall, with 2,620 satellites still working.

77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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SpaceX Orbits 53 Starlink Satellites, Ties Annual Launch Record

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., July 17, 2022 — On Sunday, July 17 at 10:20 a.m. ET, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

It was SpaceX’s 31st successful launch of 2022, which ties a company record set last year. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said the company is aiming to launch 60 times this year.

Jonathan’s Space Pages reports that 2,858 Starlink satellites have been launched, with 2,604 spacecraft still in orbit and 2,074 in the licensed operational shells.

This was the 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched Dragon’s first crew demonstration mission, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, SXM-7, and now 10 Starlink missions.

Q&A: Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver Talks Commercial Space, ‘Bro’ Culture and Her New Book

NASA then-Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin for the dedication of the Spaceport America runway in 2010. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by David Bullock
Staff Writer

Former Deputy Administrator of NASA Lori Garver came out with a new book in June titled, “Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age.” The book is a memoir of her time in the space sector, particularly focused on her time in the Obama Administration where she spearheaded commercialization efforts. Here, we talk about the book and other topics about the government organization and the private sector.

Q. What is the most important thing(s) you want readers to take away from your book?

I think that the value of humans first exploring space was most directly tied to looking back and seeing our home planet and recognizing we are in this together. We often envision space being about just going to somewhere else, but we have learned so much about ourselves and our planet from just going to space. I would like people to recognize that the government program can focus on those priorities and reduce the cost of accessibility to space, so even more people, satellites can go to space for valuable purposes.

How has the move toward commercial space you led helped the U.S. space program?

NASA has always had commercial industry involved in our space program very closely. What we have been starting, decades before, was recognizing the things that are routine about space could be done by the private sector in ways that reduce the cost through innovation and opening new markets. Lowering the cost of space transportation by some of the policies that I helped drive has allowed us to take better advantage of the unique vantage of space and allowed NASA to focus, or should allow even more, NASA to focus on things that are uniquely important to the government.

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SpaceX Completes Hat Trick with 3 Launches in 36 Hours

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX completed a hat trick over the weekend with three satellite launches from different coasts in 36 hours.

Elon Musk’s company wrapped up a busy weekend when a Falcon 9 booster launched the Globalstar FM15 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The rocket lifted off at 12:27 a.m. EDT.

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SpaceX Conducts Second Launch in Less Than 24 Hours, Third Scheduled for Sunday Morning

SpaceX conducted its second launch in less than 24 hours on Saturday morning when a Falcon 9 carried a German reconnaissance satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The rocket lifted off at 7:19 a.m. PDT (10:19 a.m. EDT) with the Airbus-built SARah synthetic aperture radar satellite for the German military from a fog-shrouded launch pad. SpaceX ended its webcast early prior to satellite deployment at the request of the customer.

The Falcon 9’s first stage booster, launching for the third time, touched down at Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg. It was SpaceX’s 125th recovery of an orbital class booster.

It was the second Falcon 9 flight in just over 22 hours. On Friday, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink broadband satellites from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket lifted off at 12:08 p.m. EDT (9:08 a.m. PDT).

It was a record 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, and now 10 Starlink missions. The stage landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX will wrap up a busy weekend on Sunday morning with a Falcon 9 launch of the Globalstar FM15 communications satellite at 12:27 a.m. EDT (04:27 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It will be the 26th launch of the year for SpaceX.

You can watch the live launch webcast for the launch starting about 10 minutes before liftoff.

SpaceX Fires At Least 5 Employees Over Open Letter Condemning Elon Musk’s Behavior

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Loren Grush at The Verge reports that SpaceX has fired at least five employees who were involved in circulating an open letter condemning founder Elon Musk’s behavior on Twitter, calling for the company to immediately disassociate itself from what they view as Musk’s increasingly toxic brand, and demanding equal enforcement of the company’s professed “No Assholes” and “Zero Tolerance” policies regarding sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.

Grush also reports that the open letter was signed by 404 employees in the day and half before it was removed from an internal company chat board. A separate story by The Verge raises the question of whether the firings were illegal under labor laws.

You can read Grush’s original story here.

Our story, which examines the controversy as well as allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination at another Musk company, Tesla Motors, can be read here.

The Verge also obtained a copy of an email sent to employees to SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell. It is reproduced below.

The Verge quotes two employees as saying there was no undue pressure applied on co-workers to sign the letter.

However, two of those involved with writing it, speaking on the condition of anonymity, dispute that claim. They say they simply posted the letter to the Teams channels, pointing people to it and asking for support.

“There was no pressure applied to anyone to collect signatures,” one employee who helped craft the letter said, who also wanted to remain anonymous. “The open letter either stands on its own or it doesn’t.”

SpaceX Plans 3 Launches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday From Opposite Coasts

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on May 14, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has launches planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday from the East and West coasts.

A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch 53 Starlink broadband satellites from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:08 p.m. EDT (16:08 UTC). The launch window is instantaneous. A backup launch window is Saturday at 11:47 a.m. EDT (15:47 UTC).

The first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, and nine Starlink missions. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth and land on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

On Saturday, a Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the Airbus-built SARah synthetic aperture radar satellite for the German military from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The launch window opens at approximately 7:00 a.m. PDT (10 a.m. EDT, 14:00 UTC). The Falcon 9’s first stage booster will return to Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg.

On Sunday, a Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the Globalstar FM15 communications satellite at 12:27 a.m. EDT (04:27 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

You can watch the live launch webcast for each launch starting about 10 minutes before liftoff.

Musk Says Starship Ready to Fly From Boca Chica in July

Elon has always been optimistic on timetables, so we’ll see how long it takes.

The range is anywhere from 17 to 47 days from Musk’s June 14 tweet. You get a range of two to five months when you put those numbers into the Elon Time Converter. That means anywhere from mid-August to mid-November.

My guess is Aug. 15. Feel free to provide your best guess in the comments below. All dates must be for Central Time in Boca Chica. The actual date of the flight may vary depending upon where you live in the world. And, as always, no wagering!

Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla Hit with $285 Billion Lawsuit Alleging Pump and Dump Dogecoin Cryptocurrency Scheme

Lt Gen Ellen Pawlikowski, Space and Missile Systems Center commander, signed agreements with Space-X CEO Elon Musk, Jun 7, 2013 at the Space-X facility in Hawthorne, Calif.U.S. Air Force photoby Joe Juarez

With the federal government investigating Tesla’s full-self driving program over crashes, a muck racking website claiming to have evidence the car company has padded sales numbers, and SpaceX employees asking management to condemn Elon Musk’s behavior, the wealthiest man in the world is certainly seeing his problems stack up.

And now the billionaire has got another one. Decrypt reports on a lawsuit filed against Musk, SpaceX and Tesla seeking $285 billion in damages:

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SpaceX Employees Say They’re Fed Up with Elon Musk’s Behavior, Call for Company to Equally Enforce “Zero Tolerance” Policy on Sexual Harassment

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Loren Grush at The Verge reports on an open letter being circulated within SpaceX that calls upon the company to “publicly address and condemn” CEO and Founder Elon Musk’s “harmful Twitter behavior. SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.”

“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks. As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX—every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission, or our values,” the letter said.

The letter calls for equal enforcement of SpaceX’s “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment. The call comes amid claims made by a former employee that sexual harassment is rife within the company, and a published report by Insider that alleged SpaceX paid a $250,000 severance to a company flight attendant after a naked Musk exposed his erect penis to her during a flight on a corporate jet. Musk and SpaceX officials denied the billionaire exposed himself.

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Roscosmos Boss Dmitry Rogozin Calls for Wiping Out Ukraine

Twitter’s content moderation efforts seemed to have spiraled downward. Major Russian government officials somehow keep their accounts while advocating the genocide of a nation of 44 million people.

Rogozin has been rabid, foaming at the mouth for months. Ukraine did not, and does not now, pose an existential threat to Russia. The biggest threat is that it becomes a stable, parliamentary democracy and joins the European Union. It would be another example of a different path Russia could take other than the authoritarian one that Vladimir Putin, Rogozin and others have imposed on the country.

Twitter really needs to answer for this. It needs to decide whether letting people call for the genocide of an entire nation is something they want to allow.

Elon Musk, who signed an agreement to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, is an avowed free speech absolutist. He called Twitter’s decision to ban Donald Trump after the attack on the Capitol last year immoral. Is this something that he would allow? What is his view of the morality of this? How absolute is absolutism?

Here’s the one thing we can be very sure about. If Rogozin was calling for the deaths of the current Twitter CEO and his family, or Elon and his children, this tweet would not stay up for a minute. It would be taken down immediately, and Rogozin would be banned.

The time is coming, barring a significant change in the Russian government, when NASA has to decide whether it come continue to work with the Russians on the International Space Station. That day may come sooner than the 2024 date Rogozin has said Russia would likely pull out of the program.

FAA Finds No Significant Impact From SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launches From Boca Chica, Order Mitigation Steps

Jets fly by SpaceX’s Super Heavy/Starship launch system. (Credit: Jared Isaacman)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The FAA issued a mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) decision on Monday that will SpaceX to launch its massive Starship/Super Heavy booster combination from its Starbase facility at Boca Chica, Texas. In order to launch, however, SpaceX must take a series of more than 75 actions to mitigate the impact on a sensitive wildlife areas that adjoin the launch base and the endangered and threatened species that live there.

FAA’s decision is a major step forward for SpaceX’s plans for a maiden flight of the booster combination from the Gulf Coast facility located just north of the Mexican border. It might also lead to litigation by a coalition of the environmental groups who believe the launch base is incompatible with the surrounding area.

FAA still needs to issue a launch license to SpaceX. The company plans to conduct a suborbital flight of the boosters that would see Starship crash into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.

FAA’s decision is also good news for NASA. The space agency awarded a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX to develop the Human Landing System (HLS) that will return U.S. astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in more than half a century. The company is adapting Starship to be the lander; Super Heavy would launch it into space.

Starship/Super Heavy is the foundation of Elon Musk’s plan to colonize Mars. It is designed to launch 100 to 150 metric tons into Earth orbit.