Veteran NASA photographer Bill Ingalls is no stranger to rocket launches, but even he seemed surprised when one of his remote cameras melted in a fire sparked by a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch Tuesday but — wait for it — still managed to snap photos of the liftoff. "Well, one remote cam outside the pad perimeter was found to be a bit toast(y)," Ingalls wrote on Facebook after the launch, "and yes – it made pix until [its] demise." The "toasty" camera was a Canon DSLR that Ingalls placed about a quarter mile (1,320 feet, or 402 meters) from SpaceX's pad, called Space Launch Complex 4E, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It was one of six remote cameras that the photographer set up to chronicle the launch of NASA's twin GRACE-FO satellites on Tuesday (May 22). Five commercial Iridium Next communications satellites also rode the Falcon 9 into orbit. [See more awesome photos of SpaceX's GRACE-FO launch] The camera melted in a brush fire triggered by the Falcon 9 … [Read more...] about This NASA Camera Melted During a SpaceX Rocket Launch, But the Photos Survived!
Rocket launch today
Some people see SpaceX's tactics as risky because they test new rocket features on active missions, rather than performing test launches. An obvious example: SpaceX didn't use a test mission to figure out whether a reused Falcon 9 stage could fly. They flew that historic mission with an active customer payload, though they did charge a lower rate because of the risks involved. Indeed, many of the changes to the Block 5 have been have been deployed and refined aboard Block 3 and Block 4 rockets. But now, there will be little, if any, tweaking to the rocket during active missions.This will make it easier to certify the Falcon 9 rocket for human flight. NASA will require seven successful flights of the Block 5 Falcon 9 before it's human rated. Presumably, that means the design has to remain the same from flight to flight without too many changes. Right now, the GAO estimates that human certification for the Block 5 Falcon 9 won't occur until late 2019.Most of the changes to this final … [Read more...] about The final design of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches today
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA's next exoplanet-hunting mission is scheduled to launch today (April 16) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and you can watch the action live. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here today at 6:32 p.m. EDT (2232 GMT). Watch the launch live at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT). The weather looks good for the launch, with an 80-percent chance of clear skies at launch time, according to the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron watching over the mission. SpaceX has re-flown 11 of these landed boosters. But the Falcon 9 lifting off today is brand-new, Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and flight reliability, said during a pre-launch briefing yesterday (April 15). Shortly after liftoff, SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of the two-stage Falcon 9 on a robotic ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. To date, the … [Read more...] about SpaceX Rocket Launching NASA’s TESS Exoplanet Hunter Today: Watch Live
A used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 10 new communications satellites into orbit from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base today (March 30) in a morning liftoff that also marked an anniversary for reusable rockets. The Falcon 9 rocket, which first flew in October 2017, launched the fifth set of Iridium Next satellites for Iridium Communications at 10:13 a.m. EDT (1413 GMT) — exactly one year to the day after SpaceX's first used Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing. Since then, SpaceX has commonly landed the first stage of its two-stage Falcon 9 rockets and reused them on later flights. In fact, the booster that launched today's Iridium-5 mission also launched 10 other Iridium Next satellites on Oct. 9 during SpaceX's Iridium-3 mission. And last December, Iridium became the first SpaceX customer to launch a mission on a rocket it used before when the Iridium-4 mission launched with the same booster SpaceX used to launch 10 other satellites on its Iridium-2 flight in June 2017. … [Read more...] about Liftoff! Used SpaceX Rocket Launches 10 Iridium Satellites into Orbit
An Arianespace Soyuz rocket successfully launched a quartet of O3b communications satellites into orbit today (March 9) for the Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES Networks. The Soyuz lifted off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana at 12:10 p.m. EST (1710 GMT) after a 33-minute delay caused by bad weather. Despite the slow start, Arianespace had a flawless launch today. "The mission has been a total success," Martin Halliwell, the chief technology officer for SES Networks, said in a post-launch briefing. The four satellites began deploying in pairs about 2 hours after liftoff. The second pair of satellites deployed at 2:32 p.m. EST (1932 GMT). Joining the 12 existing O3b satellites, the four new satellites entered a medium-Earth orbit (MEO) at an altitude of about 5,000 miles (8,000 km). [Satellite Quiz: What's Orbiting Earth?] "Arianespace is delighted to announce that the four O3b satellites have been safely separated as planned on their targeted … [Read more...] about Soyuz Rocket Launches 4 New O3b Communications Satellites Into Orbit