Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches first recycled rocket and spaceship

For the first time, SpaceX last Friday blasted off both a rocket and a cargo ship that have flown before, a step forward in the company’s goal to lower the cost of spaceflight. After the launch, the California-based company headed by Internet tycoon Elon Musk landed its rocket booster upright on solid …

For the first time, SpaceX last Friday blasted off both a rocket and a cargo ship that have flown before, a step forward in the company’s goal to lower the cost of spaceflight.

After the launch, the California-based company headed by Internet tycoon Elon Musk landed its rocket booster upright on solid ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX has now managed to return 20 of its rocket boosters after launch, whether on land or on a floating ocean platform, as part of its effort to re-use instead of jettison costly components.

The gleaming white Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket soared into the blue sky over Florida at 10:36 am (1536 GMT). Three minutes later, the booster and second stage of the rocket separated. SpaceX’s live video webcast showed the two components arcing away from each other in the sky.

The second stage continued to propel the Dragon toward the International Space Station, while the tall portion of the rocket powered its engines and maneuvered its grid fins to guide it back to Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

As live images showed the first stage glide down, steady and upright, from the air to the launchpad, cheers erupted at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters, where employees regularly gather to watch rocket launches. “That marks the second successful visit to and from space for this particular booster,” said a SpaceX commentator on the webcast.

(Related: 7 things you didn’t know about Elon Musk)

The Falcon rocket booster previously propelled a space station resupply mission in June, called CRS-11. The Dragon capsule was flown to the ISS in 2015. SpaceX confirmed that the launch sent the Dragon into a “good orbit” and it was “on its way to the International Space Station.”

“This is the beginning of rapid and reliable reusability,” said SpaceX Dragon mission manager Jessica Jensen, at a press briefing Monday. Though the early days of rocket landings saw many of them topple, miss the target or blow up, SpaceX has successfully recovered 14 of its boosters this year alone. Friday also marked the fourth time SpaceX is re-flying a used booster for one of its clients. However, it was the first such effort for NASA, SpaceX’s most important customer.

NASA’s ISS program manager Kirk Shireman said rocket experts from around the agency had reviewed safety for the mission, and that re-used components were seen as no more dangerous than new ones. “The net result is about equivalent risk,” he told reporters Monday.

The unmanned spaceship is packed with 4,800 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of food, supplies and experiments – including one to study thyroid cancer and another to grow barley in space. The mission is SpaceX’s 13th of 20 under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. The Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Sunday.

(Related: 5 reasons why Elon Musk makes the perfect technopreneur role model)

Kerry Sheridan – AFP Online News

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‘Star Wars’ Gear Soars on SpaceX Falcon Rocket As ‘The Last Jedi’ Launches

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) the same day the Millennium Falcon returned to theaters in the new Lucasfilm movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk named the real-life rocket after the fictional freighter …
Two “Falcons” took flight today (Dec. 15), each lofting “Star Wars” droids on new journeys into space.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) the same day the Millennium Falcon returned to theaters in the new Lucasfilm movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk named the real-life rocket after the fictional freighter starship.

But vehicle names are not the only thing that the SpaceX launch and the new “Star Wars” film have in common. [In Photos: SpaceX Launches Used Falcon 9 Rocket, Dragon Capsule]

Mission patches represent the science aboard the U.S. National Laboratory launched aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station on Dec. 15, 2017. The patches are the result of a partnership between Lucasfilm and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).
Mission patches represent the science aboard the U.S. National Laboratory launched aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station on Dec. 15, 2017. The patches are the result of a partnership between Lucasfilm and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

Credit: collectSPACE.com

Launching atop the Falcon 9 at 10:36 a.m. EST (1536 GMT) was a SpaceX Dragon uncrewed spacecraft packed with supplies and science experiments for the Expedition 54 crew aboard the International Space Station. The solar-powered cargo capsule is slated to arrive and berth at the orbiting outpost early Sunday morning (Dec. 17).

Also stashed aboard the Dragon are a couple hundred mission patches depicting BB-8 and two other droids from the “Star Wars” franchise. The Millennium Falcon-shaped embroidered badges represent the science for the U.S. National Laboratory that’s aboard the space station, as managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

“We are incredibly excited to link the inspiration brought by ‘Star Wars’ to our International Space Station, highlighting research that is happening right now in space,” Gregory H. Johnson, president and executive director of CASIS and a former NASA astronaut, said in a statement when the mission patch was revealed in September. “This collaboration connects the scientific promise of the International Space Station to the scientific inspiration of the iconic ‘Star Wars’ franchise.”

The patch was developed by Doug Chiang, Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars” vice president and executive creative director, who oversees concept artistry and production design for the films, including the current release, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which hits theaters across the country today.

“The patch design is meant to evoke this same spirit of wonder when Luke Skywalker looked out to the twin suns of Tatooine,” Chiang said. “The silhouetted droids and ISS set against a sunset sky with echoes of the Death Star and Millennium Falcon — two iconic ‘Star Wars’ vehicles that still captivate us — reflect this memorable scene.”

A look at the "Star Wars" CASIS mission patch design honoring the Millennium Falcon, Death Star, the International Space Station and droids from the franchise.
A look at the “Star Wars” CASIS mission patch design honoring the Millennium Falcon, Death Star, the International Space Station and droids from the franchise.

Credit: NASA TV

In addition to the ball-shaped BB-8 astromech droid that appears in “The Last Jedi,” the patch features K-2SO, a humanoid droid from the 2016 movie “Rogue One,” and Chopper, also known as C1-10P, which appears on the animated TV series “Star Wars Rebels.” The internal border of the emblem forms the outline of the Death Star from the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

Today’s Falcon 9 launch marked the first time that a resupply run for NASA employed a reused Dragon spacecraft and a “flight-proven” rocket first stage. The Dragon previously flew to the space station in 2015; the Falcon 9 stage was first launched and landed earlier this year, in June. (The stage was again recovered shortly after liftoff today, making for SpaceX’s 20th successful first-stage landing.)

The launch was also the first liftoff from SLC-40 since the launchpad was damaged by a failed Falcon 9 engine test, called a static fire, in September 2016. SpaceX spent approximately $50 million to repair and upgrade the U.S. Air Force launchpad in the year since the explosion.

In addition to the “Star Wars” patches, SpaceX’s 13th NASA-contracted space-station-bound Dragon is carrying a Made In Space payload to test manufacturing exotic optical fiber in the microgravity environment; NASA’s Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor, a new instrument that will measure the how much solar energy reaches Earth; and a Budweiser experiment that will investigate the effects of spaceflight on the germination of strains of barley used in the brewing of beer.

Robert Pearlman is a Space.com contributing writer and the editor of collectSPACE.com, a Space.com partner site and the leading space history news publication. Follow collectSPACE on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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SpaceX Lofts Supplies To Space Station On “Flight-Proven” Rocket

Founder Elon Musk said the development of the rocket was more challenging than initially thought. The heavy-lift rocket consists of three Falcon 9 cores, or booster rockets, that fire 27 rocket engines simultaneously to loft large payloads into orbit. SpaceX said it will attempt to land all three boosters after …

Nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies are on the way to the International Space Station thanks to private company SpaceX. The mission marks the first time NASA is using a recycled rocket from SpaceX to ship cargo to the station.

After Friday’s launch, this rocket has now lofted supplies to the station twice. Earlier this summer, the booster sent a cargo capsule called Dragon to the ISS. Less than ten minutes after liftoff, SpaceX landed the booster back at Cape Canaveral.

The booster was refurbished and prepped for another launch and yet again, shortly after liftoff, SpaceX landed the booster. The cargo capsule launched Friday is also what SpaceX likes to call ‘flight proven’ — it made a trip to the station back in 2015.

The launch marks the return of SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40. The pad was damaged after an explosion during a routine test back in September 2016. SpaceX spent about $50 million bringing the pad back online and upgrading it to support future Falcon 9 flights.

It’s likely the last Florida launch for SpaceX until 2018. In early January, the private company is planning to launch a secret payload code named “Zuma.” Later in the month, SpaceX plans to fly it’s heavy-lift rocket Falcon Heavy for the first time.

Falcon Heavy has long been delayed. Founder Elon Musk said the development of the rocket was more challenging than initially thought. The heavy-lift rocket consists of three Falcon 9 cores, or booster rockets, that fire 27 rocket engines simultaneously to loft large payloads into orbit. SpaceX said it will attempt to land all three boosters after liftoff.

Musk has lowered the expectations for the first launch of Falcon Heavy. “There’s a lot that could go wrong there,” he said at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference this summer. “There’s real good chance that that vehicle does not make it to orbit.”

The cargo capsule launched Friday will arrive at the space station Sunday. NASA pays private companies like SpaceX to ship supplies to the ISS. SpaceX hopes to lower the cost of access to space by reusing parts of the rocket. So far, the private company has landed 20 boosters.

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SpaceX delivery delayed for a few days

As before, SpaceX will attempt to land the first-stage booster back at Cape Canaveral after liftoff. SpaceX chief Elon Musk is pushing to lower launch costs by reusing the most expensive rocket parts. The Dragon holds nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies, including a barley experiment for Budweiser.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX has delayed its latest grocery run for the International Space Station by at least another few days.

The company now aims to launch its first recycled rocket for NASA on Friday.

The unmanned Falcon rocket originally flew in June. The Dragon capsule made a space station shipment in 2015.

This will be the first launch in more than a year from this Florida pad, the scene of a rocket explosion in 2016. Late Tuesday, SpaceX pushed back the launch for the second day in a row, saying it needs to rid the second-stage fuel system of unwanted particles. Liftoff had been scheduled for Tuesday, then Wednesday.

If the Falcon isn’t flying by Friday, SpaceX will have to wait until late December at NASA’s request, based on sunlight restrictions on the orbiting lab.

As before, SpaceX will attempt to land the first-stage booster back at Cape Canaveral after liftoff. SpaceX chief Elon Musk is pushing to lower launch costs by reusing the most expensive rocket parts.

The Dragon holds nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies, including a barley experiment for Budweiser.

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SpaceX delivery delayed few days; 1st reused rocket for NASA

SpaceX chief Elon Musk is pushing to lower launch costs by reusing the most expensive rocket parts. The Dragon holds nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies, including a barley experiment for Budweiser. Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, …

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has delayed its latest grocery run for the International Space Station by at least another few days.

The company now aims to launch its first recycled rocket for NASA on Friday.

The unmanned Falcon rocket originally flew in June. The Dragon capsule made a space station shipment in 2015.

This will be the first launch in more than a year from this Florida pad, the scene of a rocket explosion in 2016. Late Tuesday, SpaceX pushed back the launch for the second day in a row, saying it needs to rid the second-stage fuel system of unwanted particles. Liftoff had been scheduled for Tuesday, then Wednesday.

If the Falcon isn’t flying by Friday, SpaceX will have to wait until late December at NASA’s request, based on sunlight restrictions on the orbiting lab.

As before, SpaceX will attempt to land the first-stage booster back at Cape Canaveral after liftoff. SpaceX chief Elon Musk is pushing to lower launch costs by reusing the most expensive rocket parts.

The Dragon holds nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies, including a barley experiment for Budweiser.

Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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