SpaceX to Cap Crew Dragon Production at 4 Capsules

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. (Credit: NASA TV)

Reuters reports that SpaceX will build only four Crew Dragon capsules as it shifts resources to its Super Heavy/Starship program.

Capping the fleet at four Crew Dragons adds more urgency to the development of the astronaut capsule’s eventual successor, Starship, SpaceX’s moon and Mars rocket. Starship’s debut launch has been delayed for months by engine development hurdles and regulatory reviews.

It also poses new challenges as the company learns how to maintain a fleet and quickly fix unexpected problems without holding up a busy schedule of astronaut missions.

“We are finishing our final (capsule), but we still are manufacturing components, because we’ll be refurbishing,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters, confirming the plan to end Crew Dragon manufacturing.

She added that SpaceX would retain the capability to build more capsules if a need arises in the future, but contended that “fleet management is key.”

Crew Dragon is designed to be flown 10 times with refurbishment between each flight. SpaceX launches astronauts to the International Space Station under a NASA contract. The company is also sending private missions to the space station and on short trips to orbit.

Super Heavy and Starship vehicles are being designed for rapid reuse and airplane like operations.

“Misogyny is rampant”: Former Engineer Attacks SpaceX Culture While Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Pile Up Against Tesla

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak has published an essay alleging rampant sexual harassment at Elon Musk’s space company, portraying a dysfunctional company where management is unwilling to respond to complaints or to discipline offenders.

The essay was published as seven women filed sexual harassment lawsuits against Tesla Motors, which is another company where Musk serves as CEO. The suits have accused the automaker of “fostering a culture of sexual harassment” against women. In October, Tesla was ordered to pay $137 million in damages to a former African American worker who alleged in a lawsuit he was subjected to racial discriminator and slurs “straight from the Jim Crow era.” Tesla has disputed the claims and is appealing the judgment.

In her essay published by Lioness, Kosak said she incidents of sexual harassment started when she was an intern at SpaceX and continued after she became a full-time mission integration engineer.

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Inspiration4 Mission Launches into Orbit

Falcon 9 launches the privately-funded Inspiration4 mission into orbit. (Credit: Inspiration4)

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL, September 15, 2021 (Inspiration4 PR) – On September 15 the crew of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit, officially ushered in a new era of space exploration at 8:02:56 PM EDT as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifted off from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. 

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NSS Presents Gwynne Shotwell Top Award at the Online 2021 International Space Development Conference

Gwynne Shotwell

This Year’s Virtual Conference Streams Free to All Starting Today

WASHINGTON, DC (NSS PR) — The National Space Society is proud to announce the presentation of the prestigious Wernher von Braun Memorial Award to SpaceX President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell at its annual International Space Development Conference®, which will be held virtually this year from June 24 through the 27th. Ms. Shotwell will speak on the future of SpaceX’s endeavors and on the development and exploration of cislunar space.

Shotwell joined SpaceX in 2002 when the company was in its earliest stages. She was promoted to president of the company in 2008 following her successful negotiation with NASA for the Commercial Resupply Services contract. Her responsibilities have included building the launch manifest of the company’s revolutionary Falcon 9 rocket, which has captured a large portion of global launch contracts. Shotwell was also integral to SpaceX’s successful bid to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station, which the company accomplished in 2020.

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Axiom Space Signs Blockbuster Deal with SpaceX Through 2023 to Fly 3 Additional Axiom Private Crew Missions to ISS

  • A landmark agreement between Axiom Space and SpaceX confirms Axiom’s next three planned missions to the International Space Station will fly on SpaceX’s Dragon, in addition to Ax-1.
     
  • The growing partnership between Axiom and SpaceX – the industry leaders in human spaceflight and in orbital services and launch, respectively – solidifies the nascent commercial human spaceflight market.
     
  • The missions, both managed and launched by private companies, are a validation of NASA’s Commercial Crew strategy to enable a commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit.

HOUSTON (Axiom Space PR) — Axiom Space revealed Wednesday that it has finalized a deal with SpaceX for three additional Dragon flights, on which Axiom would fly its proposed private crews on its next three fully commercial missions to the International Space Station. The landmark agreement between the industry leaders in human spaceflight as well as launch and orbital services, respectively, ensures the nascent commercial human spaceflight market’s growth will subsist.

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Shotwell, Koch and Meir Make Time’s 100 Most Influential People List

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell and NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir have made Time magazine’s list of The 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Shotwell is listed in the Titans category and credited with guiding SpaceX to success.

“She is not only a quintessential engineer with a passion to build things, but also a “people engineer” who thrives on working with colleagues and customers. Gwynne Shotwell is helping to launch our future, and I can’t wait to see what she does next,” former NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan wrote.

Koch and Meir were listed together in the Pioneers category for conducting the first all-female spacewalk from the International Space Station in October 2019.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are inside the Quest airlock preparing the U.S. spacesuits and tools they will use on their first spacewalk together. (Credit: NASA)

“I believe that Koch and Meir, by their sheer skill and execution, shift us closer to a template based on intelligence, agility, capability, integrity, courage and excellence,” wrote former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison.

Read Jemison’s tribute to Koch and Meir here.

NASA to Preview First Crewed Dragon Mission on May 1

On Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20, SpaceX teams in Firing Room 4 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the company’s Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, along with NASA flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, executed a full simulation of launch and docking of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley (front) participating in SpaceX’s flight simulator. (Credits: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — With the first mission to return human spaceflight launches to American soil now targeted to lift off May 27, NASA will highlight the historic flight with a series of news conferences Friday, May 1, that will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s  website. In addition, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, who will serve as crew for the mission, will be available for remote interviews.

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Intelsat Selects SpaceX to Launch Intelsat 40e Satellite

MCLEAN, Va. (Intelsat PR)–Intelsat (NYSE: I) has selected SpaceX as its launch partner for Intelsat 40e (IS-40e). The launch is planned for 2022 on SpaceX’s American-built Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

“We look forward to working with SpaceX to launch Intelsat 40e in 2022,” said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco. “IS-40e will join the Intelsat Epic high-throughput satellite fleet and integrated IntelsatOne ground network to provide our customers with the managed hybrid-connectivity they need in today’s ever-changing world.”

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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.

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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SpaceX Statement on U.S. Air Force Launch Competition

Gwynne Shotwell

The following statement can be attributed to Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX:

“SpaceX means to serve as the Air Force’s long-term provider for space launch, offering existing, certified and proven launch systems capable of carrying out the full spectrum of national security space launch missions and requirements.”

Overall, SpaceX’s mature, operationally proven Falcon launch system delivers significant flight heritage and is fully capable of reliably supporting Phase 2 National Security Space Launch missions.

Phase 2 presents an opportunity to utilize and expand this certified operational capability to support the full spectrum of national security space launch requirements, leveraging the years-long, close technical relationship between SpaceX and the USG Team. This collaboration has delivered mission success for critical national security payloads, including National Reconnaissance Office Launch 76 (NROL-76), Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5), Global Positioning System III-2 (GPS III-2), and STP-2.

SpaceX’s Falcon launch system is the only system offered for Phase 2 NSSL that is flying today and has already achieved national security space certification—SpaceX is clearly the lowest-risk solution for the Government to provide assured access to space on time and on budget.

SpaceX Update on Status of 60 Starlink Satellites

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

SpaceX Statement
May 31, 2019

We continue to track the progress of the Starlink satellites during early orbit operations. At this point, all 60 satellites have deployed their solar arrays successfully, generated positive power and communicated with our ground stations.

Most are already using their onboard propulsion system to reach their operational altitude and have made initial contact using broadband phased array antennas.

SpaceX continues to monitor the constellation for any satellites that may need to be safely deorbited. All the satellites have maneuvering ability and are programmed to avoid each other and other objects in orbit by a wide margin.

Also, please note that the observability of Starlink satellites is dramatically reduced as they raise orbit to greater distance and orient themselves with their phase array antennas toward Earth and their solar arrays behind the body of the satellite.

Editor’s Note: During a talk at MIT earlier this week, President Gwynne Shotwell said 56 satellites were performing as expected and that four had problems. She did not elaborate on the nature of the problems.











SpaceX Receives FCC Approval to Launch 1,500 Starlink Satellites

Gwynne Shotwell

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX’s request to fly more than 1,500 of its Starlink satellites at an altitude of 550 kilometers. Additional information on the approval can be found here, and the following statement can be attributed to Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX:

“This approval underscores the FCC’s confidence in SpaceX’s plans to deploy its next-generation satellite constellation and connect people around the world with reliable and affordable broadband service. Starlink production is well underway, and the first group of satellites have already arrived at the launch site for processing.”

SpaceX is targeting no earlier than May for launch of a Starlink mission.

Last year, SpaceX became the first U.S.-based company to be licensed by the FCC to operate a NGSO constellation of more than 11,000 satellites.

Earlier this year, SpaceX submitted an application to operate 1 million user terminals as well as its first six gateways to provide the necessary communications links back from the satellites to the global Internet. SpaceX intends to install sufficient gateway sites in the U.S. and around the world to ensure that the Starlink satellites have a visible gateway earth station with which they can communicate from all parts of their orbits.











SpaceX Embarks on Another Funding Round to Raise $400 Million

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX is seeking to raise $400 million in its latest round of fundraising. According to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SpaceX has raised 11 percent of the total:

Total Amount Offered: $399,999,936
Total Amount Sold: $43,999,332
Total Remaining to be Sold: $356,000,604

Five investors have participated in the funding round thus far.

Elon Musk’s company is preparing to launch its Starlink constellation of satellites, which could eventually include nearly 12,000 spacecraft that would provide high-speed Internet and other communications services. The launch of the first satellites is scheduled for no earlier than May.

SpaceX has also begun testing its Raptor engine, which will power its Starship vehicle and super heavy booster.