Harbor Commissioners Approve SpaceX Lease at Port of Los Angeles

Harbor commissioners for the Port of Los Angeles have approved a lease with SpaceX under which Elon Musk’s company will build a research, development, manufacturing and recovery facility at a dilapidated terminal.

The lease agreement, which the harbor board approved on Thursday, now goes to the Los Angeles City Council for a vote.

SpaceX would pay $1,699,990 during the first year, with the cost adjusted annually according to the consumer price index (CPI). Assuming SpaceX renews the lease for years 11-30, total lease payments through year 20 would total $52,888,933.

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Improving Shoes, Showers, 3D Printing: Research Launching to the Space Station

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor mixes samples for the Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS) experiment and installs them into the Multi-use Variable-g Platform. The research uses the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station to investigate the complex process of cement solidification. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A variety of science investigations, along with supplies and equipment, launch to the International Space Station on the 20th SpaceX commercial resupply services mission. The Dragon cargo spacecraft is scheduled to leave Earth March 2 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Its cargo includes research on particle foam manufacturing, water droplet formation, the human intestine and other cutting-edge investigations.

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DLR Göttingen Tests Bartolomeo Commercial Payload Platform for Space Station

Bartolomeo platform undergoing testing. (Credit: DLR)
  • DLR Göttingen has tested a payload platform for the International Space Station
  • The Bartolomeo platform was developed by Airbus
  • Commercial users will be able to conduct experiments in space more quickly and with increased cost effectiveness

Göttingen, Germany (DLR ) — The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has tested a new type of payload platform created by Airbus for the International Space Station (ISS). Researchers at DLR in Göttingen investigated the vibration behaviour of the component in order to rule out any potentially dangerous vibrations during launch or while in service.

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Space Adventures, SpaceX Announce Agreement to Launch Private Citizens on Crew Dragon

An instrumented mannequin sit in the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-1 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

VIENNA, Va., February 18, 2020 (Space Adventures PR) — Building on the success of Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station in March 2019 and the recent successful test of the spacecraft’s launch escape system, Space Adventures, Inc. has entered into an agreement with SpaceX to fly private citizens on the first Crew Dragon free-flyer mission. This will provide up to four individuals with the opportunity to break the world altitude record for private citizen spaceflight and see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program.

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SpaceX Launches Fifth Starlink Mission

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Monday, February 17 at 10:05 a.m. EST, or 15:05 UTC, SpaceX launched its fifth Starlink mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Falcon 9’s first stage previously launched the CRS-17 mission in May 2019, the CRS-18 mission in July 2019, and the JCSAT-18/Kacific1 mission in December 2019.

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SpaceX Looks to Build R&D, Manufacturing Facility at Port of Los Angeles

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX is looking to build a research, development, manufacturing and recovery facility at a dilapidated terminal in the Port of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners is set to meet on Thursday to consider approving a 10-year lease with two 10-year options for SpaceX to take over the former Southwest Marine site at Terminal Island in San Pedro.

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Front Range Biosciences to Send Hemp, Coffee Tissue Culture Samples to Space to Study Effects of Microgravity

LAFAYETTE, Colo. (FRB PR) — Front Range Biosciences®  (“FRB”), an agricultural technology company focused on breeding and nursery production of new plant varieties and seeds for the hemp and coffee industries, has announced their partnership with SpaceCells USA  Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder to send hemp and coffee tissue culture to space. The mission will transport plant cultures to space to examine zero gravity’s effects on the plants’ metabolic pathways.

The experiment, being targeted for transportation to the space station aboard the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight scheduled for March 2020, will look at how plant cells undergo gene expression changes or genetic mutations while in space.

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Your Weekend Rocket Forecast

Antares with Cygnus CRS-13 spacecraft on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)

Friday, February 14
Saturday, February 15

Launch Vehicle: Antares
Payload: Cygnus (NG-13)
Launch Time: 3:21 p.m. EST (2021 GMT) 3:43 p.m. EST (2043 GMT)
Launch Site: NASA Wallops Flight Facility (Virginia)
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

Northrop Grumman will launch a Cygnus resupply ship to the International Space Station.

Update: The launch was scrubbed on Friday due to unfavorable upper level winds.

Saturday, February 15
Sunday, February 16
Monday, February 17

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: 60 Starlink satellites
Launch Time: TBA 10:25 a.m. EST (1525 GMT) 10:46 a.m. EST (1546 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

SpaceX will launch 60 Starlink broadband satellites. The flight will add to the 242 Starlink satellites already launched.

Update: Launch postponed due to predicted poor weather in the first stage recovery area.

Update No. 2: Launch scrubbed to check on second stage valve. Now aiming for Monday.

Man Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Inspection Reports for SpaceX Parts

BUFFALO, N.Y. (US DOJ PR) –U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that James Smalley, 42, of Penn Yan, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to falsifying inspection reports for space parts. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Resnick, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was a Quality Assurance Engineer at PMI Industries, LLC, a Rochester aerospace precision machining service, specializing in high-tolerance machining for flight critical aerospace parts used to build space flight vehicles by SpaceX and other Department of Defense aerospace contractors.

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Qarman CubeSat: Falling Into a Fireball

ESA’s next CubeSat mission seen enduring the scorching heat of simulated atmospheric reentry inside the world’s largest plasma wind tunnel. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s latest mission will enter the vacuum of space, not aboard a rocket but by being released from the International Space Station. The first task of the shoebox-sized Qarman CubeSat is simply to fall. While typical space missions resist orbital decay, Qarman will drift down month by month until it reenters the atmosphere, at which point it will gather a wealth of data on the fiery physics of reentry.

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Gerstenmaier Joins SpaceX as Consultant

William Gerstenmaier (Credit: NASA)

CNBC reports that SpaceX has hired William Gerstenmaier, who formerly headed NASA’s human spaceflight program, to serve as a consultant for the company’s reliability engineering team.

The move comes as SpaceX prepares to fly its first Crew Dragon mission with astronauts later this year. The flight test is currently scheduled for the second quarter.

The crew plans to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). A successful flight would clear the way for certification of the vehicle to fly crews to ISS on a commercial basis.

Gerstenmaier was demoted from his position as NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations last July over continued delays with the Space Launch System and Orion programs. He had served in that position for 14 years.

Gerstenmaier’s reassignment as a special adviser to Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard was his first step out the door. He left NASA in December after 42 years with the space agency.

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.