SpaceX launched 60 Starlink broadband satellites into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 on Saturday, completing the company’s 100th successful launch since the first successful Falcon 1 launch in September 2008.
The 15th dedicated Starlink flight brought to the number of constellation satellites launched to 895. A number of satellites have been deorbited or failed.
Falcon 9 lifted off at 11:31 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Launching for the third time, Falcon 9’s first stage touched down on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. The stage previously flew for the GPS III 03 mission in June 2020 and a Starlink mission in September 2020.
Starlink is designed to provide fast broadband service across the globe. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given Elon Musk’s company permission to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites. SpaceX has applied to raise that number by 30,000 to 42,000.
The company has been conducting a private beta test of the Starlink constellation. Musk has said SpaceX will begin a public beta test soon.
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will soon be heading into orbit to monitor the height of the ocean for nearly the entire globe.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Preparations are ramping up for the Nov. 10 launch of the world’s latest sea level satellite. Since arriving in a giant cargo plane at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last month, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has been undergoing final checks, including visual inspections, to make sure it’s fit to head into orbit.
Update: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted the Falcon 9 launch was aborted due to an “nexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator. No word on when they will try launching again.
A Cygnus resupply ship carrying nearly 8,000 lb of cargo for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) was blasted into orbit by an Antares rocket on Friday night.
The Northrop Grumman booster lifted off on time at 9:16 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia. The flight followed a scrubbed launch on Thursday due to a software problem with ground equipment.
Cygnus, which is also a Northrop Grumman vehicle, is scheduled to arrive at the ISS early Monday morning.
Results were not as good on Friday night for SpaceX, which suffered its second Falcon 9 abort of the week in Florida. The countdown from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was halted two seconds prior to a planned 9:43 p.m. EDT liftoff for an unknown reason.
The rocket is carrying the GPS IIII SV-04 navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System.
On Thursday morning, the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink broadband satellites from nearby Kennedy Space Center was halted with 18 seconds left in the count due to an out family reading from a ground sensor.
LOS ANGELES (Space and Missile Systems Center Public PR) — The United States Space Force (USSF) and the Space and the Missile Systems Center achieved another major Global Positioning System (GPS) milestone on July 27 when the GPS III Space Vehicle (SV) 03 received USSF’s Operational Acceptance approval.
WASHINGTON, (AFNS) — The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), competitively awarded two Firm-Fixed-Price, Indefinite Delivery Requirement contracts for National Security Space launch services today to ULA and SpaceX.
“This is a groundbreaking day, culminating years of strategic planning and effort by the Department of the Air Force, NRO, and our launch service industry partners,” said Dr. William Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “Maintaining a competitive launch market, servicing both government and commercial customers, is how we encourage continued innovation on assured access to space. Today’s awards mark a new epoch of space launch that will finally transition the Department off Russian RD-180 engines.”
President Donald Trump has withdrawn the nomination of Michael P. O’Rielly for another five-year term on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
SpaceNewsreports the White House withdrew the nomination because O’Rielly opposed a petition by the Trump Administration asking the FCC to re-examine section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Section 230 provides free speech protections to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Conservatives have accused the companies of censoring their views and want the immunity removed.
O’Rielly’s nomination was already on hold in the Senate at the time it was withdrawn. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced on July 28 that he had put a hold on the nomination until O’Rielly publicly committed to overturning the FCC’s Ligado order.
In April, FCC commissioners approved a modification to Ligado’s license to operate L-band communications services. The approval was opposed by the Trump Administration, the Defense Department, and other agencies that believe it will interfere with Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation signals.
“I understand that O’Rielly has stated that he would give ‘due consideration to a stay’ ‘based on new data or evidence’ – but that isn’t enough,” Inhofe said in a statement. “This isn’t just about our military, but all users of GPS are united in opposition. All of America can’t be wrong, and he understands that. I need his commitment in plain English to vote to overturn the order, not just consider it, before I will allow his nomination to proceed.”
WASHINGTON (Jim Inhofe PR) — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced that he has placed a hold on the nomination of Mike O’Rielly to be FCC Commissioner until O’Rielly publicly commits to vote to overturn the current Ligado Order.
“Over the past few months, I have sent letters, held hearings and called countless officials to highlight what we all know to be true: the FCC’s Ligado Order is flawed and will lead to significant harm to our military and the thousands of individuals and businesses that rely on GPS. The Trump administration understands this and has urged the FCC to reconsider the Ligado Order.
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Tuesday, June 30th at 4:10 p.m. ET, 20:10 UTC, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully lifted off, carrying the Space Force’s GPS III Space Vehicle 03 mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft deployed approximately 1 hour and 29 minutes after liftoff.
HARWELL, UK (Satellite Applications Catapult PR) — According to press reports, the UK government is a partner in a bid for OneWeb, the UK- headquartered satellite communications company which, following the well-publicised financial difficulties of a major investor, entered Chapter 11 in March. If these reports are true, and the bid is successful, then it is great news for the UK space sector and UK citizens.
China completed its Beidou satellite navigation system with a launch last week, fully standing up a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS), Europe’s Galileo constellation, and Russia’s GLONASS system and strengthening the nation as a space power.
Coalition’s first action is to endorse Inhofe-Reed legislation forcing Ligado to provide financial relief to consumers, industries and other end users
WASHINGTON (June 23)—Five organizations representing thousands of companies and millions of Americans have launched a new coalition to protect end users of GPS following the Federal Communications Commission’s April 22 decision to permit Ligado Networks to operate a terrestrial wireless network using its satellite spectrum.
Ligado’s planned use of its so called “L-Band”spectrum, which is closely adjacent to bands used by GPS, would threaten the reception capability of hundreds of millions of GPS devices.
CANBERRA (Karen Andrews PR) — The Morrison Government is backing a series of projects designed to grow Australia’s space sector and create local jobs, including improving GPS technology and the design of innovative spacesuits that will make spacewalking easier.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the 10 projects sharing in $11 million [USD $7.6 million] would boost jobs and skills in the space sector, and contribute to the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — For centuries, lighthouses helped sailors navigate safely into harbor. Their lights swept across the water, cutting through fog and darkness, guiding mariners around dangerous obstacles and keeping them on the right path. In the future, space explorers may receive similar guidance from the steady signals created by pulsars.
Scientists and engineers are using the International Space Station to develop pulsar-based navigation using these cosmic lighthouses to assist with wayfinding on trips to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program and on future human missions to Mars.