Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…
ISPCS Morning Session: Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX

ispcs_logoThe International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) got started formally this morning in Las Cruces, NM, with its first four speakers. The conference runs through Thursday evening.

Although I couldn’t be there, several people are Tweeting the event live. Below is a compilation of Tweets from Jeff Fust and others on the talk by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell on Wednesday morning.

I will try to keep up with the conference from Mojave and provide summaries of speakers as I can.

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  • October 16, 2013
Grasshopper Takes Highest Flight To Date

Video Caption: On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap to date, rising to 744m altitude. The view above is taken from a single camera hexacopter, getting closer to the stage than in any previous flight. Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere […]

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  • October 12, 2013
Video: Watch SpaceX’s Grasshopper Fly Laterally

Video Caption: On August 13th, the Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) completed a divert test, flying to a 250m altitude with a 100m lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad. The test demonstrated the vehicle’s ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights. Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts […]

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  • August 14, 2013
Watch SpaceX’s Grasshopper Fly to 325 Meters

Video Caption: On June 14, SpaceX’s Grasshopper flew 325 m (1066 feet)–higher than Manhattan’s Chrysler Building–before smoothly landing back on the pad. For the first time in this test, Grasshopper made use of its full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to accomplish a precision landing. Most rockets are equipped with sensors to determine position, but these sensors are generally not accurate enough to accomplish […]

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  • July 5, 2013
SpaceX to Test Grasshopper at Spaceport America
Grasshopper on the pad in Texas. (Credit: SpaceX)

Grasshopper on the pad in Texas. (Credit: SpaceX)

Santa Fe, N.M. (NMSA PR) – Governor Susana Martinez today announced that Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, has signed a three-year agreement to lease land and facilities at Spaceport America to conduct the next phase of flight testing for its reusable rocket program. The company will be a new tenant at Spaceport America, the state-owned commercial launch site located in southern New Mexico.


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  • May 7, 2013
Video of SpaceX’s Grasshopper Reaching 250 Meters

Video Caption: SpaceX’s Grasshopper flies 820 feet, more than tripling its March 7th leap. Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle that SpaceX has designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up in the atmosphere during reentry, SpaceX’s rockets are being designed to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing.

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  • April 22, 2013
SpaceX’s Grasshopper Reaches 80 Meters in Flight

McGregor, Texas (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX’s Grasshopper doubled its highest leap to date to rise 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet) today, hovering for approximately 34 seconds and landing safely using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control.

Grasshopper touched down with its most accurate precision thus far on the centermost part of the launch pad.  At touchdown, the thrust to weight ratio of the vehicle was greater than one, proving a key landing algorithm for Falcon 9.  Today’s test was completed at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.


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  • March 9, 2013
A Look Back at Suborbital Space in 2012

Excerpted from the FAA report, “Commercial Space Transportation: 2012 Year in Review”.

FAA Suborbital Flight Summary

On October 6, at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, Armadillo Aerospace’s STIG-B suborbital reusable vehicle (SRV) made the only FAA-licensed suborbital launch of 2012. However, six other suborbital vehicles flew under experimental permits or Class 3 waivers.

The STIG-B flight was the first FAA-licensed launch from Spaceport America. The launch experienced an in-flight abort. It did not reach its planned altitude, but the vehicle was successfully recovered intact and later used to conduct launch tests in November and December. Armadillo successfully launched its STIG-A vehicle under a Class 3 Waiver in January, but the vehicle was lost during recovery.


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  • February 1, 2013
America’s Rocket Renaissance

rutan_talkBy Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

During recent public talks, Scaled Composites Founder Burt Rutan has bemoaned the lack of recent rocket development in the United States. After the initial burst of creativity in the 1950’s and 1960’s, decades went by with very few new rockets being developed. He has also pointed to Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipTwo, SpaceX’s Dragon and Stratolaunch Systems air-launch project (which he worked on for 20 years) as the only serious developments in the field at present.

My first thought was: Burt’s wrong. There’s a lot more going on than just that. Including developments just down the flight line in Mojave that he somehow fails to mention. And my second thought was: well, just how wrong is Burt, exactly?

A lot, it turns out.


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  • January 4, 2013
Awesome Video: SpaceX’s Grasshopper Flies to 40 Meters

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SPACEX PR) — SpaceX’s Grasshopper took a 12-story leap towards full and rapid rocket reusability in a test flight conducted December 17, 2012 at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Grasshopper, SpaceX’s vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (VTVL), rose 131 feet (40 meters), hovered and landed safely on the pad using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. The total test duration was 29 seconds. Grasshopper stands […]

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  • December 23, 2012