Musk announces that SpaceX will fly two passengers around the moon in 2018. No humans have traveled past low Earth orbit since the final Apollo mission in 1972. The as-yet-unnamed passengers are believed to be paying millions of dollars for the experience, and have already put down a deposit. The travelers will undergo fitness tests and begin their training later in this year. Musk says that he does not believe that this will be the only mission, as others have expressed strong interest in making the trip. SpaceX:
Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.
Next year is going to be a big year for carrying people to the space station and hopefully beyond.
SpaceX lands the first stage of its Falcon 9 booster on a pad at Cape Canaveral, eleven minutes after the rocket launched. The control room fills with cheers and chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A”. The space-bound section of the rocket successfully delivers 11 satellites. CEO Musk says he is optimistic that Falcon re-flights will become “pretty straightforward,” and will make sense because of the roughly $60 million cost to build a Falcon 9, only about $200,000 is propellant that can’t be recovered. The bulk of the cost is embedded in the first stage and its nine Merlin engines.
I imagine that we’re going to have a whole fleet of booster rockets accumulating quite rapidly. Then we’ll figure out how to make the reuse as easy as possible, so that really no work is required between reuses, apart from refilling the propellant tanks.
The company releases interior photos of the Dragon Crew spacecraft, as well as a video showing closeups of its control panels and crew seats. The capsule seats seven and is fitted out with carbon fiber and Alcantara cloth. Video displays in front of the seats will provide information to the astronauts about the vehicle’s position in space and the environment on board.
Musk says a support strut holding one of the helium tanks likely fractured near a bolt attach point, and wanted to move to the top of the Falcon 9’s second stage. Several helium tanks, each pressurized to about 5,500 pounds per square inch, are mounted inside the rocket’s second stage liquid oxygen tank. The helium is routed through the second stage’s Merlin engine, where the helium warms up and injected into the rocket’s propellant tanks to pressurize the stage as the launcher burns fuel, keeping the tanks structurally sound. Musk:
It may seem sort of counterintuitive that, as the rocket’s accelerating, that something immersed in the tank would actually want to go up more, but that’s basically what happened. The buoyancy increases proportionate to the G-loading. At approximately 3.2 Gs, this strut holding down one of the helium bottles appears to have snapped, and as a result, releasing a lot of helium into the upper stage oxygen tank and causing an over-pressure event quite quickly…Within the course of a second, this caused enough helium to be released, we believe, to over-pressurize the liquid oxygen tank in the upper stage. You don’t really need to release a lot of helium because there’s only about 2 percent gaseous volume in the stage because the upper stage propellant is not being consumed.
A SpaceX rocket on a mission to resupply the International Space Station explodes two minutes and thirty seconds into its flight from Cape Canaveral Florida. The Falcon 9 is carrying about 5,000 pounds of cargo for the space station’s astronauts, including a docking port that would allow future crew missions to dock with the station more easily. The launch was planned to be been the third attempt to land the first-stage booster safely on a barge in the Atlantic ocean. Initial reports said the vehicle had an “anomaly on ascent”, with Musk reporting that the craft experienced a problem shortly before first-stage shutdown related to an “over-pressure event in the upper-stage liquid oxygen tank”. NASA:
SpaceX has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first six cargo resupply missions to the station, and we know they can replicate that success. We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward. This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but we learn from each success and each setback.
The company tests the Dragon abort system at Cape Canaveral. The abort system is designed to save the crew in the event of a launchpad emergency. The capsule is powered by Draco engines for five seconds. After reaching apogee at 90 seconds, falls by parachute into the Altantic ocean
Shotwell says the Company will attempt to land the Falcon 9 on land, although no time and place are stated. The hope is that the added stability of landing on ground would allow a safe landing.
Just purely the boat moving, even in a low sea state, it’s hard to imagine that vehicle is going to stay vertical. That vehicle is big and tall, compared to the itty-bity-greater-than-a-football-field-size ship.
On risks of ground return:
The risk of damage to the public of ascent is far greater than return. There’s a lot of propellant going up, and there’s very little propellant coming back.
She also notes that there is a flight termination system in place:
It’s a lot harder to think about blowing up that rocket when you’re going up and it has a payload on board. But when it’s coming back, if things look wonky, blow it up.
Musk releases a video of the landing.
An unmanned Dragon capsule from SpaceX lifts off from Cape Canaveral, FL, and rockets to the International Space Station, carrying the first 3D printers for astronauts in orbit. In addition, the ship had batteries for spacesuits, clothes, food and a device which measures the speed of the winds in the ocean. The launch went smoothly. NASA:
What a beautiful morning it was.
Wyler leaves Google to work with Space Exploration Technologies Corp. In his departure, he takes rights to certain radio spectrum that could be used to provide Internet access. This could hurt Google’s aspirations in this area in the short term, but there are many alternatives to spreading Internet connectivity globally.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, after being delayed for close to two months as a result of technical difficulties. The rocket is tasked with putting commercial communication devices into orbit, in satellites.
Falcon 9 met 100 percent of mission objectives.
At SpaceX headquarters, Musk unveils Dragon V2, a cone-shaped reusable capsule designed to carry cargo and up to seven astronauts at a time to and from the International Space Station. The first manned test flight for Dragon V2 is expected before the end of 2016. According to a SpaceX, Dragon V2 will touch down on land with the accuracy of a helicopter.
Space Exploration Technologies wins a court order blocking the sale of Russian-made rocket engines to a Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture for the U.S. Air Force because the transaction may violate a March 16th presidential order of sanctions against the head of Russia’s defense and space industries. The order is temporary, lasting until the judge can get opinions from the US Departments of State, Commerce and the Treasury on whether the sale directly or indirectly violates those sanctions.
The Company’s upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle puts the SES-8 communications satellite into geostationary orbit. This success comes after multiple missed launch windows and mission aborts as well as equipment replacement. The satellite will provide South Asia and Indochina with phone, television and Internet services.
The Company launches its most powerful rocket to date, a nine-engine Falcon 9, from Vandenberg, California just after 9:00 a.m. The rocket is carrying the Cassiope weather satellite.
The SpaceX Dragon completes its International Space Station docking mission, splashing down in the Pacific at 11:42 AM Eastern time after six days at the ISS. This is the second demonstration flight under a commercial cargo transport agreement with NASA.
SpaceX completes the first docking of a private spacecraft with the international space station. The spacecraft, called the Dragon, will spend six days docked at the space station before returning to earth.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft becomes the first privately developed spacecraft to return to Earth from a low Earth orbit. The spacecraft flies for a total of three hours and twenty minutes at an altitude of 182 miles before returning to Earth.