Big Texas Will Be Production Site For SpaceX’s Biggest Rocket

SpaceX said it will develop and build its biggest spacecraft to date — Starship/Super Heavy – at its facility in South Texas instead of at the Port of Los …

SpaceX said it will develop and build its biggest spacecraft to date — Starship/Super Heavy – at its facility in South Texas instead of at the Port of Los Angeles as announced in April 2018.

Starship/Super Heavy was previously known as the BFR (for Big Falcon Rocket).

Development and manufacturing of the company’s Falcon 9/Heavy, Merlin and Raptor will continue at the company’s Hawthorne, California headquarters. The announcement of the move to South Texas, however, did not eliminate the possibility SpaceX still plans to develop an oceanside factory in the near future for Starship/Super Heavy.

What is clear is that SpaceX will assemble and test its Starship prototype in Texas instead of California.

To streamline operations, SpaceX is developing and will test the Starship test vehicle at its site in south Texas, said a SpaceX statement. The company said this decision does not impact its current manufacture, design, and launch operations in Hawthorne and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. SpaceX will, however, continue recovery operations of its reusable Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft at the Port of Los Angeles.

SpaceX is making a lot of noise about the development of the Starship “hopper,” a prototype of Starship/Super Heavy. The first short test flights for the hopper are to begin this year.

Hopper will also be built in Texas (where SpaceX has a launch site) because the massive size of these launch vehicles makes them very difficult to transport by sea or land.

In 2018, SpaceX COO and President Gwynne Shotwell revealed that the estimated cost of moving a BFR-sized rocket from the company’s main Hawthorne factory to the Port of Los Angeles would average $5 million for a one-way trip.

She said this amount is almost 10% of the list price of an entirely new Falcon 9 rocket ($62 million). A BFR is nine meters tall.

As a result, SpaceX decided to build a permanent factory at a Port of Los Angeles dock known as Berth 240. Locating at the Port of Los Angeles would have allowed SpaceX to build a manufacturing facility on a 19-acre plot on Terminal Island.

The initial plan was for the huge BFRs to be then transported via barge and the Panama Canal to Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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Unmanned Launch Of US SpaceX Dragon 2 To Int’l Space Station Delayed Until Feb 16 – Source

The unmanned launch of a Dragon 2 spacecraft, developed by US aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, to the International Space Station (ISS) has been …

The unmanned launch of a Dragon 2 spacecraft, developed by US aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed until February 16 and may be postponed further, a Russian space industry source told Sputnik on Monday

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 21st January, 2019) The unmanned launch of a Dragon 2 spacecraft, developed by US aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed until February 16 and may be postponed further, a Russian space industry source told Sputnik on Monday.

Earlier, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) stated that the first unmanned launch of the Dragon-2 was slated for February. A Sputnik source, meanwhile, reported that the launch was scheduled for February 9.

“The launch of Dragon 2 was postponed until February 16. Further postponement of the launch is not excluded. At least, this is what the US side says,” the source said.

Earlier in January, a source told Sputnik that the manned launch of the Dragon 2 with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board had been postponed fromJune to July.

Both launches will be test flights, after which Dragon 2 � which has two configurations: Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon � will get certified by NASA for regular flights to the ISS.

Another US spacecraft, Starliner, is being constructed by Boeing. According to a Sputnik source, its unmanned launch to the ISS is scheduled for March 28, while the manned flight is slated for August 27.

Both launches will be test flights, after which the Starliner will be certified by NASA for regular flights to the ISS.

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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon settles on Feb 9 launch debut as Falcon 9 nears static fire

In the midst of several confusing delays, schedule updates, and official statements, the orbital debut of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft has made its …

In the midst of several confusing delays, schedule updates, and official statements, the orbital debut of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft has made its way onto the Eastern range’s planning schedule for the first time, placing Falcon 9 B1051’s static fire and Crew Dragons launch no earlier than (NET) January 23rd and February 9th, respectively.

As the brand new spacecraft’s first attempted trip to orbit, the demonstration mission (Demo-1/DM-1) will be performed without crew aboard, allowing SpaceX and NASA an opportunity to fully verify performance and explore Crew Dragon’s capabilities without risking the lives of the astronauts that will step inside a nearly identical vehicle as early as June or July.

Obviously preliminary, but the Eastern Range is now showing the Static Fire for the DM-1 mission’s Falcon 9 (B1051.1) as NET January 23, (and still showing NET February 9 as the launch date). As always, but especially this one, all very much subject to change. pic.twitter.com/EWOEpbpI9o

— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) January 17, 2019

The US government has been shut down for more than four weeks as a consequence of the inability of elected representatives to pass and sign a funding bill, now the longest shutdown in the country’s history. As a result, more than 95% of NASA’s workforce has been furloughed, leaving around 800 people left working (without pay) across the agency in positions or groups deemed absolutely essential to avoid loss of life or property damage.

How NASA defines “essential” is unknown but it seemed improbable that the Commercial Crew Program – around six months away from actually launching astronauts and presently marked by NASA’s attempts to complete reams of approval and certification paperwork – would fall under that extremely narrow umbrella. Delays to Crew launches are unlikely to harm hardware or directly risk harm to astronauts, although a very tenuous case could be made that delays to the program now would snowball and cause the debut of operational crewed launches to slip so far into 2019 (or even 2020) that NASA could lose assured access to the International Space Station (ISS) for several months. Again, there is no obvious way that a slip like that would actually increase the risk to life or limb for astronauts and hardware/infrastructure.

Apparently, Demo-1 and 2 don’t need FAA launch licenses (under auspices of NASA, like TESS launch. Post-certification missions will require FAA license, like CRS flights today

— Irene Klotz (@Free_Space) January 16, 2019

Despite the logical improbability that NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) would – at this point in time – remain operating at full capacity during an extended government shutdown, NASA provided a statement to The Atlantic earlier this week more or less implying that CCP was deemed essential and has continued to operate for the last several weeks. There is certainly some wiggle room in NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs’ comments, enough to make it ambiguous if they are primarily PR spin, frank honesty, or something in between.

A SpaceX spokesperson added [paraphrased by The Atlantic] that “if NASA made the call, the company would carry out the uncrewed [DM-1] launch”, a tactical nonanswer that redirects the impetus to NASA. It’s not clear if the people at NASA that would ‘make the call’ to launch are furloughed or not – they certainly would not be essential in the sense described by NASA’s own overview of the current shutdown’s impact. Originally targeting a launch sometime in mid to late January, an official NASA update posted on January 10th showed that Crew Dragon’s first launch had slipped into February (on the launch range for February 9th).

DM-1 and Falcon 9 were greeted by an extraordinary – albeit mildly bittersweet – dawn during their first-ever trip out to Pad 39A. (SpaceX)

The integrated DM-1 Crew Dragon ‘stack’ rolled out to Pad 39A for the first time in the first few days of 2019. (SpaceX)

Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon vertical at Pad 39A. (SpaceX)

Crew Dragon shows off its conformal (i.e. curved) solar array while connected to SpaceX’s sleek Crew Access Arm (CAA). (SpaceX)

DM-2 astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley train for their first flight in Crew Dragon. (NASA)

“NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews.” – NASA, 01/10/2019

“Hardware testing” likely refers to the need for Falcon 9 to complete a static fire at Pad 39A, a test now scheduled for January 23rd. It’s ambiguous whether SpaceX can actually perform a static fire test – a complete launch rehearsal involving full propellant loads and the ignition of all nine Merlin 1D engines – at Kennedy Space Center, a NASA operated with federal funding that does not currently exist. Although the Air Force-helmed range is operating at a normal capacity, KSC must still perform a number of basic tasks ranging from infrastructure maintenance to roadblock setup to allow a static fire test – let alone a launch – to occur. I

f SpaceX completes its NET January 23rd static fire with no problems, then it would appear to be the case that some sort of SpaceX-side delay – perhaps augmented or slowed down by NASA operating at 5% capacity – caused the slip from mid-January to mid-February. Stay tuned to find out!


Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes!

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Space Notebook: Lunar lander arrives in Florida ahead of SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

A unique spacecraft slated to launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket next month completed the first leg of its quarter-million-mile …
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A unique spacecraft slated to launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket next month completed the first leg of its quarter-million-mile journey this week when it traveled from Israel to Florida.

The final destination for the SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries spacecraft: the lunar surface.

Shipped in a temperature-controlled container, the 400-pound lander (1,300 pounds fully fueled) was flown Friday from Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv to Orlando International Airport. It will be driven to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for testing and final integration before the mid-February liftoff from Launch Complex 40.

The spacecraft, named “Beresheet” which means “in the beginning” in Hebrew, will fly as a secondary payload to the Nusantara Satu mission, a larger communications spacecraft that SpaceX will deliver to a geostationary orbit. Indonesian operator Pasifik Satelit Nusantara calls it the country’s “first high-throughput satellite.”

Built by SSL in California, the primary payload is expected to operate on orbit for 15 years and weighs 10,400 pounds.

As Nusantara Satu finesses its orbit around Earth, Beresheet will kick off a two-month journey to the moon that should result in an autonomous mid-April landing. Once there, it will capture photos of the landing site and take magnetic measurements for a joint Weizmann Institute – NASA experiment.

If successful, it will mark the first interplanetary mission for a Falcon 9 rocket as well as Israel’s first landing on the lunar surface.

Additional details about the mission – Falcon 9 booster number, whether or not there will be a landing attempt, and exact launch time – have not yet been released by SpaceX. The company is still prioritizing its first uncrewed demonstration flight of Crew Dragon from Kennedy Space Center, which is tentatively on the Eastern Range’s schedule for early February.

Delta IV Heavy launches national security mission from California

Powered by 2.1 million pounds of thrust, a three-core United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket blasted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base Saturday and successfully delivered a secretive national defense spacecraft to orbit.

Space Launch Complex 6 hosted the 11:10 a.m. Pacific time launch for the National Reconnaissance Office, which typically does not release specifics about its payloads. Labeled NROL-71, it marked the first launch of the year for ULA, though it was originally delayed from December.

The Colorado-headquartered company now turns its attention to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it is expected to launch an Air Force communications satellite on a single-core Delta IV rocket no earlier than March 13. It will be the 10th launch of a Wideband Global SATCOM satellite, also known as WGS-10.

Contact Emre Kelly at aekelly@floridatoday.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.

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Pentagon Launches Spy Satellite as Concerns Mount Over Shutdown’s Impact

Other experts said the long-awaited initial launch of a commercial crew capsule by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. could slip from …

A large U.S. spy satellite was successfully launched into orbit Saturday from central California as concerns mounted that the continued government shutdown threatens to disrupt launch plans for future commercial, civilian and potentially even military payloads.

The Delta IV rocket carrying a classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:10 a.m. local time, with the 1.6-million-pound rocket’s main engines performing as expected and the upper stage igniting about six minutes…

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