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Thread 6: http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1258838-spacex-updates-thread-6/

Starting a new thread after 15 pages and Chris Bergin's tweet about something big coming from SpaceX going viral and making the news worldwide.

There are few details, and what few there are have to stay in L2 for now. 

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/spacex-annouce-mars-mission-094029845.html#vhtkoMf

Is SpaceX About To Annouce A Mars Mission?

A vague tweet has hinted that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has a huge announcement to make, leading to speculation that a Mars mission could soon be unveiled.

The hint was dropped on Twitter by Chris Bergin (@NASASpaceflight), the managing editor and founder of NasaSpaceflight.com, a popular space news site which is not affiliated with the American space agency.

His tweet read: 

Tease: it may takes weeks, or even months, to be announced, but what I’ve been shown is THE most exciting thing EVER. #SpaceX”.

The reason that this is so intriguing is that Musk has previously stated that the company would be revealing a new spacecraft destined to travel to Mars and that it would be unveiled before the end of the year.

As ScienceAlert.com points out, earlier in the year Musk said on an AMA on Reddit:

The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture. Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year. Good thing we didn’t do it sooner, as we have learned a huge amount from Falcon and Dragon.

The tech entrepreneur also stated that the company would be unveiling a new spacesuit design before the end of the year

SpaceX is a privately-funded aerospace firm run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and already completed several successful launches - plus a few casualty-free disasters - with its Falcon launch vehicle and unmanned Dragon spacecraft.
The company has flown six resupply missions to the International Space Station and has also been awarded the contract to build a manned spacecraft for NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme.

Bergin confirmed to curious followers on Twitter than the news isn’t related to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop transportation system, and definitely refers to space travel of some kind.

Surprised by the widespread reaction to his initial tease,  Bergin later tweeted an image of Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard looking slightly perplexed alongside the words: “That feeling when one of your vaguest tweets is the one that goes semi-viral”.

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Unobscured Vision

I'm not going to speculate either, at this point. I want it to remain where it belongs for now and when there's something to announce we'll have the big celebration with everyone else. :yes:

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Draggendrop

I'm not going to speculate either, at this point. I want it to remain where it belongs for now and when there's something to announce we'll have the big celebration with everyone else. :yes:

Quite right.....we have a RTF, a CRS, an FH demo and a mess of a backlog to get churning out which will include top notch multiple launch crews, as the cadence ramps up....gotta pay the bills....., right now, the rest is gravy....:D

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Draggendrop

Misc tweets.....

 

 

 

:)

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Draggendrop

misc bits.....

 

SpaceX raps ULA bid to get U.S. waiver for Russian engines

Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has slammed a bid by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, to get a waiver from a U.S. ban on Russian rocket engines for military use.

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Motors and chief executive of SpaceX, told Defense Secretary Ash Carter that federal law already allowed ULA to use "a substantial number" of engines.

ULA's threat to skip an upcoming Air Force competition to launch a GSP satellite unless it got a waiver was "nothing less than deceptive brinkmanship for the sole purpose of thwarting the will of Congress," he wrote in a letter dated Oct. 5. A copy was obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer, this week said the Defense Department expects to decide "fairly soon" whether to waive the law to allow ULA to continue using Russian RD-180 rocket engines on its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket.

ULA CEO Tory Bruno told reporters last week that without some relief from the ban, the company would be unable to bid in the GPS satellite competition, or for any other new national security launches until a new American-built engine was ready in 2019.

The ban still affects nine of 29 engines that ULA ordered but had not paid for before Russia annexed Crimea. Bruno said five other engines approved for ULA's use by Congress last year had already been assigned to other commercial or civil missions, and were not available for use in a bid for the new GPS launch.

A defense policy bill passed by both the House and Senate gives ULA permission to use four of the nine remaining engines, but the legislation faces a veto threat and is unlikely to be enacted before Nov. 16, when bids are due for the competition.

In his letter, Musk said Bruno's argument was irrelevant since nothing prevented ULA from ordering more RD-180 engines for commercial or civil missions.

ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye had no immediate comment on the SpaceX letter. She said ULA had not placed its typical yearly engine order from Russia's Energomash due to uncertainty about its ability to use any more of the RD-180 engines, but the company continued to ship the engines that have already been ordered on time and schedule.

Musk said both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate had put limits on use of the engines to gradually reduce U.S. reliance on Russia, at a time when tensions between Moscow and Washington are running high.

A waiver is allowed for national security reasons, but only if "the space launch services and capabilities covered by the contract could not be obtained at a fair and reasonable price without the use of rocket engines designed or manufactured in the Russian Federation."

Musk said a waiver was unnecessary since SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, and ULA's Delta rockets were also available.

ULA has said it plans to discontinue production of all except the heaviest Delta 4 rockets because they are not and cannot ever be competitive with SpaceX's lower prices.

 http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/08/us-space-ula-spacex-idUSKCN0S22Y920151008

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A nonprofit just booked a trip to the moon with SpaceX

It looks like we may have a new kind of space race.

An Israel-based nonprofit competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize now has a ride to the lunar surface and a legitimate chance to become the first private group to land a spacecraft on the moon.

SpaceIL announced Wednesday that it has a contract to fly to the moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

If SpaceIL or another team competing for the X Prize succeeds, it will effectively open up access to the moon, which was once only accessible for nations.

SpaceIL’s rocket ride is scheduled to blast off in the second half of 2017. If the mission is a success, it will be the first time an Israeli spacecraft has gone to the moon. The nonprofit bought the launch from Spaceflight Industries, which purchased the Falcon 9 that SpaceIL's lander will fly to space aboard.

“It is a great feeling of accomplishment, but we still have a long way to go," Eran Privman, SpaceIL CEO, told Mashable via email. "Although it is a private mission, we feel that the whole nation is behind us, feeling proud."

 

 SpaceIL_3.thumb.jpg.6dedb66a8b2f300523cd

This is the first time a Google Lunar X Prize team has had its launch contract verified by X Prize itself, though it isn’t the first time a team has announced a contract with a launch provider.

The teams Moon Express and Astrobotic have also announced contracts for launch, though neither team has gone through the verification process, according to Google Lunar X Prize.

Astrobotic announced its intention to fly to the moon aboard a Falcon 9, while Moon Express plans to launch its first of five moonshots aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rockets in 2017.

SpaceIL’s launch contract cost more than $10 million, which the nonprofit fundraised. It was purchased through Spaceflight Industries, Privman said.

The team still has a lot to do before launch in a couple years.

 

SpaceIL_2.thumb.jpg.8d0a3fd0e11934acb1b5
SpaceIL

“On the fundraising aspect, we still need to raise about $10 million in the next two years,” Privman said. “On the engineering side, we need to continue with the development of all the spacecraft's components, run different tests and bring all the parts to the integration lab (where our spacecraft will be assembled).”

The remaining 15 teams now have until the end of 2016 to verify (and acquire) launch contracts that would have them touching down on the lunar surface before Dec. 31, 2017 in order to be eligible to win the grand prize.

Once on the moon, teams need to show that their robotic crafts can send high-definition videos and photos to Earth and move at least 500 meters.

 

 http://mashable.com/2015/10/07/spaceil-google-lunar-xprize-spacex/#NPw_NKRdxgq_

:)

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Unobscured Vision

ULA can't do it on their terms so they're crying and whining about it -- and all the while, trying to make everyone forget that they had been handed boatloads of taxpayer money to develop a new engine for five years prior to this debacle, and couldn't produce anything (or were unwilling to do so). And now they're being called out on their B.S. as they should be because they can't compete.

Naysayers have become the punchlines of the bad jokes. What a shame, and a sheer lack of ability to innovate. Now it's come down to the Atlas and Delta lines being retired; all but the Delta Heavy which use U.S. Engines. ULA deserves whatever happens next.

Adapt or perish ... looks like ULA chose to perish.

Elon called it right down the middle, as always.

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Draggendrop

A few posts ago, ULA made mention of trying to get a waiver....this is the responce...

UPDATE 2-Pentagon denies Russian rocket engine waiver for Lockheed-Boeing venture

Oct 9 (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Friday declined to waive a U.S. law banning the use of Russian rocket engines for military and spy satellite launches, rejecting an urgent request from United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.

ULA, the monopoly provider of such launches since its creation in 2006, has said it needs the waiver to compete against privately held Space Exploration Technologies Corp, or SpaceX, in a new U.S. Air Force competition for satellite launches. Bids are due for the competition by Nov. 16.

The U.S. Defense Department said it would continue to monitor the situation, and was looking at a range of options, including possible sole-source contract awards, to keep both companies in business and ensure more than one supplier was available in the event of failures.

Prompted by Russia's annexation of Crimea last year, U.S. lawmakers banned the use of Russian RD-180 rocket engines for military and spy satellite launches after 2019.

ULA and SpaceX declined to comment on the decision.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson said the department remained committed to maintaining two sources of launch services. But she said its approach could evolve, given market conditions, a desire to move away from the Russian RD-180 rocket engine as soon as possible, and the possibility that only one competitor could survive in the U.S. space launch market.

She said the Pentagon also remained committed to competition as a way to control cost "to the maximum extent possible."

ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno last week said his company would be unable to compete for any new national security launches until 2019, without some relief from the ban on use of the Russian RD-180 engine on its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket.

SpaceX, which has invested heavily to develop its own rocket and engine, told Defense Secretary Ash Carter in a letter this week that federal law already allowed ULA to use "a substantial number" of the Russian engines.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said ULA's threat to skip an upcoming Air Force competition was "nothing less than deceptive brinkmanship" aimed at subverting the will of Congress.

The ban affects nine of 29 engines that ULA ordered but had not paid for before Russia annexed Crimea. Bruno said five other engines approved for ULA's use by Congress last year were needed for commercial or civil missions, and were unavailable for use in a bid for the new GPS launch.

A defense policy bill passed by both the House and Senate would allow ULA to use four of the nine remaining engines, but the legislation faces a veto threat and is unlikely to go into force before bids are due for the Air Force launch competition.

She said Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer, was developing a long-term acquisition strategy with the U.S. Air Force to reduce reliance on the RD-180 engine. Kendall is due to brief top Pentagon officials by the end of the year. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Bill Rigby and Richard Chang)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/09/space-launch-ula-idUSL1N1292CB20151009

----------------

Confirmation article for investigation....as per tweet....

 SpaceX Wrapping Up Falcon 9 Failure Investigation

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — SpaceX expects to complete its final report on the June 28 failure of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle within a month, but does not yet have a firm timetable for resuming flights, a company official said Oct. 8.

Josh Brost, a business development executive with SpaceX, said at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight here that the final report on the failure should be delivered to the Federal Aviation Administration, which licensed the launch, “maybe in the next month.”

On that launch, of a Dragon cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station, the vehicle broke apart less than two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. In a July 20 briefing, SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk said a strut holding down a helium bottle inside a propellant tank in the rocket’s upper stage broke. That caused the tank to overpressurize and burst, destroying the vehicle.

That explanation has held up during later phases of the investigation, Brost said. “The early reports you saw in the press, where we talked about it being caused by a strut, those have born out,” he said.

The company has not offered a specific timetable for resuming Falcon 9 launches. “We’re hoping to return to flight in the next couple of months,” he said. That launch is expected to also be the first flight of an upgraded version of the rocket with increased thrust from its nine first-stage engines.

Once the Falcon 9 does return to flight, Brost said, the company will ramp up launch activities quickly. “We’ll start launching at a fairly high cadence next year,” he said.

 

http://spacenews.com/spacex-wrapping-up-falcon-9-failure-investigation/

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funny one......

 

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DocM

The Senator may well be correct.

SpaceX has received an FCC license for  the SES-9 Return To Flight stage landing radio frequencies. The license window opens November 15, 2015.

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FloatingFatMan

ULA can't do it on their terms so they're crying and whining about it -- and all the while, trying to make everyone forget that they had been handed boatloads of taxpayer money to develop a new engine for five years prior to this debacle, and couldn't produce anything (or were unwilling to do so). And now they're being called out on their B.S. as they should be because they can't compete.

Naysayers have become the punchlines of the bad jokes. What a shame, and a sheer lack of ability to innovate. Now it's come down to the Atlas and Delta lines being retired; all but the Delta Heavy which use U.S. Engines. ULA deserves whatever happens next.

Adapt or perish ... looks like ULA chose to perish.

Elon called it right down the middle, as always.

Seeing as they were given public money to develop a new engine, and they haven't done so, why aren't they being prosecuted for misappropriation of public funds?

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DocM

Good question. Assured Access funds were also used to keep the lights on during periods of low launch rates, among other things,  via waivers. Congresses for the last decade are also to blame because Russia has been saber rattling about banning USAF RD-180 launches long before this Ukraine business blew up. Plenty of blame to go around.

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DocM

Just realised - Chris was mistaken. That was a House hearing on NASA's exploration goals, budgets etc. The statement was by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif: Dist 48), and he said that the way NASA and Congress are going SpaceX will beat NASA to Mars.

Quote starts at 02:16:00
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDRyEhSdbFU

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Unobscured Vision

That's how it needs to be. Private ventures need to be the ones leading the way now.

NASA has relegated itself to being part middleman, Facilities Provider, R&D, and Regulatory Agency. Let NASA do the Science Missions (New Horizons, Cassini, Juno, Dawn, Mars Rovers, etc) -- they're really good at those most of the time. Let NASA take care of the Research & Development of the EM Drive (which is showing promise!) and the Ion Engine advances (which will work great as RCS once the power levels become usable) and the other tedious R&D that Commercial R&D won't have the patience or funding to develop.

Hey, there's an idea. NASA does R&D on technology. The private companies then bid on this technology once it's been developed. The highest bidder wins the rights to that technology for a certain period of time with the understanding that they MUST use it, NASA recoups some (or all) of the funding put into that technology (or *gasp* even makes a profit from it) and everyone's happy.

In a perfect Multiverse ... :D

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DocM

Rohrabacher's questions start at 00:55:00 in the video link. Pretty tough on them.

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Draggendrop

Rohrabacher's questions start at 00:55:00 in the video link. Pretty tough on them.

I thought that was a pretty good hearing...bit of squirming now and again....thank's for the link....entertaining.....:D

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Draggendrop

mmmmmmm......long time still, I'm on launch withdrawls......:s

SpaceX to fly in December

The long-delayed return to flight of SpaceX’s Falcon rockets is likely to happen in December, according to Lee Rosen, SpaceX’s VP/mission and launch operations, speaking in Jerusalem this week.

The SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket exploded moments after lift-off on June 28th and has been identified as being caused by a failed strut on a high-pressure Helium tank which created the catastrophic explosion.

A number of satellite owners have been patiently waiting for the past four months for the rocket to be given the all clear and for launches to re-commence.

Top of the list is Luxembourg-based SES which is likely to see its SES-9 launched on a slow journey to geo-stationary orbit, and using a more powerful Falcon-9 ‘Heavy’ rocket.

The ‘slow’ journey to orbit is because SES-9 is an all-electric satellite and will thus take 4-6 months to reach its 108.2 deg East spot.

Clients with satellites waiting to be launched include SES (SES-9), Japan Satellite (JCSAT-14 and 16), Eutelsat (117 WB), ABS (2A), Thaicom and others.

 http://advanced-television.com/2015/10/15/spacex-to-fly-in-december/

:(

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Due to the SpaceX component...thought I would post this here.....

Veto would complicate phase-out of Russian engines


 

WASHINGTON – Efforts to stop using Russian-made engines on rockets carrying U.S. military satellites have run into trouble because of partisan battles over Pentagon budgeting and the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Language to continue the phase-out of the RD-180 engines by the end of the decade is part of a defense authorization bill that President Obama has threatened to veto. His reasons: The bill also contains Republican provisions that would prevent Obama from closing the prison camp in Cuba and would try to sidestep automatic “sequestration” spending cuts at the Pentagon.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said last week that GOP lawmakers are being "irresponsible” in seeking to exempt defense programs from the cuts while the rest of government — including the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency — must abide by them.

It’s “certainly not the most effective way to provide for the national defense of the United States,” Earnest told reporters.

Obama’s threat to veto the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act comes as lawmakers are pressuring the Air Force to ramp up competition in the satellite program and limit the use of RD-180s — proposals the Pentagon supports. The engines have powered dozens of launches by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The measure would allow ULA to buy four more Russian engines — up from five now. The company has for years launched all national security satellites for the Pentagon. Its Atlas V rocket uses the RD-180.

But the authorization bill also is designed to spur competition between United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, the upstart aerospace firm that uses a domestically produced engine for its Falcon 9 rocket capable of delivering some national security payloads into orbit. SpaceX recently became the only other firm to win Air Force certification for the work.

Under the bill, the  $1 billion annual payment that United Launch Alliance receives under its arrangement with the Pentagon — SpaceX calls it a subsidy — would end by 2019. At that point, ULA would have to begin factoring the payment into its bids, a requirement that SpaceX officials say would make their company even more competitive.

Air Force officials have relied solely on ULA for nearly a decade to carry national security spy hardware into orbit. The alliance celebrated its 100th launch earlier this month, when an Atlas V carried a Mexican communications satellite into orbit fromCape Canaveral in Florida.

But the landscape has changed since ULA launched its first satellite for the Pentagon in 2006.

SpaceX has emerged as a viable and aggressive competitor, and it's eager to show it can launch satellites for a fraction of the cost when the next round of bids is submitted in the coming weeks. In addition, increasing tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Syria have prompted lawmakers to phase out use of the RD-180.

Those efforts have been led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., who said earlier this year that continuing to buy the engines would send “hundreds of millions of dollars to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and his cronies.”

If ULA runs out of those engines too soon, it also could run out of the time and money it needs to develop a rocket powered by new American engines. ULA chief Tory Bruno said that could produce the same monopolistic environment the Pentagon wants to eliminate, except that SpaceX instead of ULA would be handling all the launches.

"Without those engines, we are unable to fly Atlas in the national security marketplace," Bruno told reporters this month. "So that would take the workhorse of what has put two-thirds of the nation's most critical capabilities in orbit out of that market, and really almost kill competition before it's had a chance to get started."

ULA also operates a Delta IV rocket powered by U.S. company Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-68 engine. But the bulk of ULA's satellite launches for the Air Force have used the Atlas V.

Bruno also said the four new RD-180 engines the defense bill would provide isn't enough. He said the company needs 14 more to bridge the gap until its new, domestically produced Vulcan rocket is ready.

The bill (as well as existing law) allows the secretary of Defense to waive the restriction and grant ULA permission to buy more Russian engines if it's necessary "for the national security interests of the United States” and Congress is notified.

On Friday, ULA learned the Air Force had rejected its latest request for more engines.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/10/14/veto-would-complicate-phase-out-russian-engines/73926044/

Later..... 

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Unobscured Vision

Still don't know what Bruno is crying about. They had five years and a lot of taxpayer money to develop a new engine, and they sat around on their laurels and did nothing. It's not that difficult, Tory. You've got the brains and the talent at ULA to do this work yourselves, but your company would rather spend its' time whining to whomever will listen. You've also got the means to R&D the engine yourselves, in-house, but you want everyone else to pay for it.

ZERO sympathy for ULA. Nothing. I'd use the tears to make chili. That's about as much of a flying fleep as ULA has shown to the American People when it squandered the monies they were given to R&D a new engine.

I hope SpaceX does become the monopoly ULA fears so much, if for no other reason then spite. I support SpaceX in everything they do; and ULA getting the shaft because they couldn't innovate (or otherwise do what they were supposed to do) is, in my view, justice served on a silver tray.

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DocM

I'm thinking the post-RTF period could be interesting. Musk said at the reddit AMA that info about MCT would be forthcoming late this year. I'm sure that CRS-7 moved that right, and with RTF out of the way and Chris' tweets.... Another point of interest over the next few months is that the FAA DragonFly test permit runs out in July 2016. 

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Draggendrop

There is a crowdfunding program on the go for space related info...found two SpaceX items there....

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/space-exploration-cgi-short-film#/

SpaceX | Falcon Heavy - Flight 1080p CG
video is 0:16 min....nice thrust attempt though....

 

and a 3D image of Dragon2....

pxyspl6o66zaky1z9kdl.thumb.jpg.637ff5b37

from link.....
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/space-exploration-cgi-short-film#/

I know it's not much....but.........:)

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DocM

ORBCOMM-2 it is for RTF, which will be the bulk launch of 11 OG2 communications satellites..

As we prepare for return to flight, SpaceX together with its customers SES and Orbcomm have evaluated opportunities to optimize the readiness of the upcoming Falcon 9 return-to-flight mission.  All parties have mutually agreed that SpaceX will now fly the Orbcomm-2 mission on the return-to-flight Falcon 9 vehicle.

The Orbcomm-2 mission does not require a relight of the second stage engine following orbital insertion. Flying the Orbcomm-2 mission first will therefore allow SpaceX to conduct an on-orbit test of the second stage relight system after the Orbcomm-2 satellites have been safely deployed. This on-orbit test, combined with the current qualification program to be completed prior to launch, will further validate the second stage relight system and allow for optimization of the upcoming SES-9 mission and following missions to  geosynchronous transfer orbit.

This change does not affect the timeline for SpaceX’s return-to-flight mission which is still targeted to take place in the next 6-8 weeks. The SES-9 launch is currently targeted for late December 2015.

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Unobscured Vision

They need that S2 relight system to work -- likely there are planned Falcon Heavy launches that will require multiple relights, and this is part of the redesign of the S2 that will make those missions happen.

And I like how they're making the most of each flight like this. Qualify a system while filling orders. Yeah ... :yes: 

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DocM

S2 could already relight several times, but if they upgraded it (likely for "CommX" and BEO missions) it needs a good on-orbit test before use on a paying mission. ORBCOMM doesn't need a relight, so this is a good opportunity.

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Draggendrop

mmmmmm........

 

LightSail and Prox-1 Start Testing and Integration Process

2015/10/16 16:25 UTC

Topics: LightSail

On opposite sides of the United States, teams are starting the testing process to prepare two spacecraft for a one-of-a-kind in-space rendezvous.

In Pasadena, California, The Planetary Society’s LightSail CubeSat sits partially disassembled in the clean room of Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation, as engineers start final hardware testing of the spacecraft’s individual components. From torque rods to batteries, everything must be in working condition before it is installed in the spacecraft chassis.

And at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, student-engineers recently ran checkout tests on the Prox-1 spacecraft’s thermal and visual camera systems. Prox-1 will deploy LightSail and hunt it down 720 kilometers above the Earth, watching as the CubeSat deploys its solar sails.

Subsystem testing kicks off a busy four months for both teams, culminating with the mating of both spacecraft and delivery to the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico in February 2016. Launch of Prox-1 and LightSail aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida remains on track for September 2016. The early launch date is September 15.

 

 20151016_Prox1_Integration_and_Testing_f
Georgia Tech

Prox-1 integration and testing

Prox-1 team members (left to right) Louis Williams, Mike Veto, and Jack Bush test out imaging instruments that will will be used for navigation during automated proximity operations relative to the LightSail spacecraft. The smaller instrument in the foreground is the visible camera, and the larger instrument is the infrared imager. The instruments were designed and fabricated by Mike Veto, a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University. The visible camera will be used to provide on-orbit inspection of the LightSail solar sail deployment.

The basic workflow for each spacecraft is the same: Test out individual subsystems, assemble the spacecraft, and perform system-level testing. But the similarities largely end there. Both LightSail and Prox-1 have unique challenges ahead on the schedule.

Ecliptic’s Riki Munakata, LightSail’s integration and testing lead, says the spacecraft’s cameras are being sent home to The Aerospace Corporation for a final firmware upgrade and checkout. This inspection is meant to spot potential image processing problems that were seen during the LightSail-A test mission.

Spacecraft integration and assembly could wrap up as soon as mid-November, when LightSail heads north to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for full system testing. A vigorous test suite is planned, including communications tests, a trip to the anechoic chamber for radio checks and a boom-only deployment that could occur before Thanksgiving.

Munakata notes any delivery delays for LightSail’s final hardware set—such as the cameras or an all-new payload interface board—could push back the current schedule. But if timelines hold, a full day-in-the-life test may happen before the end of the year. Cal Poly engineers would then integrate LightSail into its P-POD in January, with the spacecraft potentially delivered for integration into Prox-1 that same month.

Meanwhile, next up for Prox-1 are subsystem tests leading up to a pre-integration review in mid-December. Pre-integration review milestones include a cross-campus communications test, a run-through of all spacecraft commands in a flight-like scenario, a solar panel battery charging test, and a day-in-the-life test prior to LightSail installation.

Dave Spencer, the Prox-1 principal investigator and LightSail mission manager, said assembly should wrap up in January. Final system-level testing of both spacecraft at the Air Force Research Laboratory is scheduled for mid-to-late February.

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2015/20151016-lightsail-prox-1-it.html?referrer=http://planetary.org/

Extra mission data
http://sail.planetary.org/

:D

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DocM

Yup. It's in the way as they appear to be intent on cladding the fixed service structure (tower), and they need to add some levels. 

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DocM

Chris at NSF has started to raise the curtain on his excited tweet. Just 2 short paragraphs, but with huge implications. 

Key points,

* SpaceX scouting missions to Mars. My $0.02 - probably FH/Dragon 2 based.

* an evolving BFR/MCT campaign

* details after the F9 returns to flight.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/10/robotic-missions-in-situ-resource-identification-human-mars/

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