GAO Upholds Blue Origin’s Protest Over USAF Launch Solicitation

Jeff Bezos

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has upheld a pre-award protest by Blue Origin over the selection process the U.S. Air Force is using to award contracts for military launches for the years 2022 to 2027.

GAO recommended the Air Force modify the solicitation under which it planned to select two companies that would compete for launches during that period. The decision would have been based on which combination of two independently developed proposals provided the best value to the government.

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Nanoracks Books CubeSat Rideshare, Habitat Building Demonstration in Single SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2019 (Nanoracks PR) – Nanoracks, the world’s leading commercial space station company, has booked a launch mission like no other, leveraging the recently announced SpaceX rideshare program. Onboard a Falcon 9, targeting launch in late 2020, Nanoracks has booked deployment of eight small satellites as well as the Company’s first in-space Outpost-demonstration mission.

Recently, Nanoracks announced the Company’s first in-space Outpost demonstration mission in a letter from CEO Jeffrey Manber. Nanoracks, in collaboration with Maxar, will be building and operating a self-contained hosted payload platform that will demonstrate the robotic cutting of second stage representative tank material on-orbit. This test will be the first of its kind to demonstrate the future ability to convert spent upper stages in orbit into commercial habitats – a long-term goal of Nanoracks.

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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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SpaceX Starlink Launch Details

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

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Monday, November 11 at 9:56 a.m. EST, 14:56 UTC, for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. A backup launch opportunity is available at 9:34 a.m. EST, 14:34 UTC, on Tuesday, November 12.

The launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast. High-resolution photos will be posted at flickr.com/spacex.

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SpaceX Files Applications for 30,000 More Starlink Satellites

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

SpaceNews reports that SpaceX has filed spectrum allocation paperwork with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for up to 30,000 additional Starlink broadband satellites.

The FCC, on SpaceX’s behalf, submitted 20 filings to the ITU for 1,500 satellites apiece in various low Earth orbits, an ITU official confirmed Oct. 15 to SpaceNews. 

SpaceX deployed its first 60 Starlink satellites in May and plans to launch hundreds — potentially over a thousand — more in the year ahead. 

The ITU, a United Nations entity, coordinates spectrum at the international level for satellite operators to prevent signal interference and spectrum hogging. National regulators submit filing on behalf of their country’s satellite operators.

The 30,000 satellites are in addition to 12,000 medium-orbit Starlink satellites already approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Elon Musk’s company is planning up to four additional Falcon 9 launches of Starlink satellites by the end of the year. Dates for those flights have not been publicly announced. Additional launches would follow in 2020.

Proton M Launches Mission Extension Vehicle, Comsat

Proton launch (Credit: Roscosomos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On October 9, 2019, at 10:17:56 the Proton-M carrier rocket with Briz-M booster together with Eutelsat 5 West B and Mission Extension Vehicle-1 satellites successfully launched from launchpad No.39 pad No.200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The start and the flight of the launch vehicle went as expected with no remarks.

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China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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Upcoming Launches Include Mission Extension Vehicle, ICON and Starlink Satellites

Mission Extension Vehicle refuels satellite. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Four upcoming launches in the United States, Russia and New Zealand feature payloads to refuel a communications satellite, study space weather, expand SpaceX’s Starlink network, and test out new technology.

October 9

Proton
Payloads: Eutelsat 5 West B communications satellite, Mission Extension Vehicle 1 (MEV 1)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Time: 6:17 a.m. EDT (1017 GMT )

This is the first flight of the MEV, which will refuel the Intelsat 901 communications satellite. Both satellites on this launch were built by Northrop Grumman.

October 9/10

Pegasus XL
Payload: Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite
Launch Platform: Stargazer L-1011 aircraft
Departure Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Window: 9:25-10:55 p.m. EDT on Oct. 9 (0125-0255 GMT on Oct. 10)

NASA’s ICON mission will study disturbances in the ionosphere caused by terrestrial weather and solar storms that disrupt radio transmissions and GPS navigation. ICON has suffered repeated delays due to technical problems. The original launch date was in June 2017. The launch is being conducted by Northrop Grumman.

October 14/15

Electron
Payloads: Palisade CubeSat
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Launch Window: 7:00-11:00 p.m. EDT on Oct. 14 (2300-0300 GMT on Oct. 14/15)

Rocket Lab’s “As The Crow Flies” mission is the ninth launch of the Electron rocket Astro Digital’s Palisade technology demonstration satellite is a 16U CubeSat with a next-generation communications system and an an on-board propulsion system.

NET October 17

Falcon 9
Payloads: ~ 60 Starlink 1 communications satellites
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Time: TBD

SpaceX will launch the second group of Starlink 1 broadband satellites no earlier than Oct. 17.

Intuitive Machines Selects SpaceX Falcon 9 to Launch Lunar Lander

Intuitive Machines of Houston has proposed to fly as many as five payloads to a scientifically intriguing dark spot on the Moon. (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

HOUSTON, October 2, 2019 (Intuitive Machines PR) — Houston-based Intuitive Machines selected SpaceX to launch its lunar lander, Nova-C, to the Moon in 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket.

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NASA, SpaceX Test Pad Emergency Egress System

NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, in front, and Bob Behnken participated in the exercise to verify the crew can safely and quickly evacuate from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency before liftoff of SpaceX’s first crewed flight test, called Demo-2. During the escape verification, Walker and Behnken pass through the water deluge system on the 265-foot level of the crew access tower. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX conducted a formal verification of the company’s emergency escape, or egress, system at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Sept. 18, 2019. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Shannon Walker participated in the exercise to verify the crew can safely and swiftly evacuate from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency before liftoff of SpaceX’s first crewed flight test, called Demo-2.

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NASA Wins Two Emmy Awards for Interactive Mission Coverage

Crowd gathers to watch as NASA and SpaceX make history by launching the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA)

LOS ANGELES (NASA PR) — NASA’s efforts to engage a broader audience in exploration through the use of social media and online features was recognized with two Emmy Awards for interactive programming this weekend. During ceremonies held Sept. 14-15 at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences recognized NASA for its coverage of a Mars mission and the agency’s first test of a spacecraft that will help bring crewed launches to the International Space Station back to U.S. soil.

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NASA Prepares to Launch ICON — Again

ICON spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA and Northrop Grumman currently are preparing the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft and the Pegasus XL rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for ferry to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft on Oct. 1, 2019.

The launch has been rescheduled to Oct. 10, 2019, following the completion of a joint NASA/Northrop Grumman investigation into a Pegasus sensor reading that was not within normal limits during previous ferry and launch attempt flights. The cause of the issue is understood, and the flight hardware has been modified to address the issue.

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SES Selects SpaceX to Launch Groundbreaking O3b mPOWER MEO Communications System

Long-term innovation partners team up to launch seven Medium Earth Orbit satellites onboard Falcon 9, dramatically scaling proven O3b low-latency, high-performance connectivity services

LUXEMBOURG, 9 September 2019 (SES PR) – SES announced today that it has selected SpaceX as a launch partner to deliver its next-generation Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite constellation into space on board Falcon 9 rockets from Cape Canaveral.

The two companies have disrupted the industry in the past when SES became the first to launch a commercial GEO satellite with SpaceX, and later as the first ever payload on a SpaceX reusable rocket. Their next launch, in 2021, will be another one for the records as the revolutionary terabit-scale capabilities of SES’s O3b mPOWER communications system disrupt the industry again.

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EDEN ISS Project Presents Results of New Greenhouse Concept for Future Space Missions

The EDEN ISS greenhouse concept is designed to be launched on a Falcon 9 booster. It would have 30 square meters of cultivate space to provide food for astronauts on the moon or Mars. (Credit: LIQUIFER Systems Group)
  • 268 kilograms of food produced in an area of only 12.5 square metres over 9.5 months.
  • Power consumption less than half as much as previously assumed for greenhouses in space.
  • Concept – a deployable greenhouse suitable for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket.
  • Project in Antarctica continues.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Future food production in deserts and cold regions, as well as under the inhospitable conditions of future space missions to the Moon and Mars, is providing the stimulus for research in the Antarctic greenhouse project EDEN ISS, which is led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).

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SHOGAKUKAN Becomes Media Partner of ispace’s HAKUTO-R Lunar Program

Latest HAKUTO-R Lander and Rover design. (Credit: ispace)

TOKYO, August 22, 2019 (ispace PR) – SHOGAKUKAN Inc. (“SHOGAKUKAN”), a leading Japanese publisher of manga, picture books, dictionaries, educational guides and other “edu-tainment” material, and ispace, inc. (“ispace”), a lunar exploration company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, are pleased to jointly announce that SHOGAKUKAN has become a Media Partner of HAKUTO-R, the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program.

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