Tag Archives: spacex

Military to audit decision to certify the Falcon Heavy rocket

A view of the Falcon Heavy rocket on Monday, from one-quarter of a mile away.

Enlarge / A view of the Falcon Heavy rocket on Monday, from one-quarter of a mile away. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann for Ars Technica)

In a memorandum released Monday night, the US Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General informed Air Force leadership that it will evaluate the military’s certification of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy for national security missions.

“We plan to begin the subject evaluation in February 2019,” the memorandum states. “Our objective is to determine whether the US Air Force complied with the Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide when certifying the launch system design for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.”

The memorandum does not explain why the inspector general believes such an evaluation is necessary. Signed

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For the New Owner of The L.A. Times, a Checkered History in Health Care

Topping our weekly news roundup: After months of clashes with top management at The Los Angeles Times, journalists welcomed the news that the paper would soon be under new ownership. But the buyer, surgeon and entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, has been involved in his fair share of controversies. … Read the rest

The Zuma failure has emboldened critics of SpaceX

Enlarge / The Zuma mission launched on January 7 from Florida. (credit: SpaceX)

The space community has not learned much about the apparent loss of the Zuma payload launched by SpaceX on January 7, but the mystery has had one clear aftereffect: critics of SpaceX, including several far-right publications, have weaponized the failure of a national security satellite in their continued stream of attacks on the company.

For example The Federalist, a publication that defended the dating habits of Alabama Judge Roy Moore in his Senate campaign, opined about the accident, “It is concerning, to say the least, that American taxpayers have become the guinea pigs who will bear the risks and the costs before a final determination can be made.” The conservative Washington Times

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This six-year-old video from SpaceX is both prescient and pure troll


Six years ago SpaceX had launched its Falcon 9 rocket just twice and fished pieces out of the ocean after each mission. Nevertheless, the company’s founder, Elon Musk, decided it was time for a big public reveal of his plans—a fully reusable launch system to significantly lower the cost of access to space.

“Now, we could fail,” he said, during a September 2011 event at the National Press Club, transcribed at the time by CollectSPACE. “I’m not saying we are certain of success here, but we are going to try to do it. We have a design that on paper, doing the calculations, doing the simulations, it does work. Now we need to make sure those simulations and reality agree because generally, when they

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Watch SpaceX land a reused Falcon 9 rocket for the first time

SpaceX has released a multi-angle video of last week’s historical landing of a reused Falcon 9 rocket. It is very loud, very awesome in the original sense of the word, and seemingly a textbook landing with nary a wobble to be seen.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which seven minutes earlier sent the communications satellite SES-10 on its way into a geostationary orbit, landed on SpaceX’s Atlantic Ocean-based autonomous spaceport barge Of Course I Still Love You.

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Russia: Maybe reusing rockets isn’t a crazy capitalist idea after all

Enlarge (credit: SpaceX)

As recently as last year, Russian rocket scientists were dubious about the potential of reusable rockets, such as those being developed by SpaceX and Blue Origin. Among the doubters was the Central Research Institute of Machine Building, which develops basic rocket strategy for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

“The economic feasibility of reusable launch systems is not obvious,” an official with the research institute said in February 2016. “First and foremost it will depend on how often launches will be made. At the moment it is hard to forecast which way the market of launch services will go when reusable space rockets become available. The designers are still to demonstrate the real costs of production and of making reusable stages for re-launching,”


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SpaceX to launch “silliest thing we can imagine” on debut Falcon Heavy


Still basking in the glow of the successful launch of his first reusable rocket, Elon Musk has been sharing a few details about the demonstration flight of the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket, likely coming later this year. This is the company’s much anticipated heavy lift vehicle, composed of three Falcon 9 cores, and which would immediately become the most powerful rocket in the world.

Perhaps the biggest tidbit is that SpaceX may try to recover the upper stage of the rocket during the launch. Composed of a single Merlin engine—a vacuum-rated version of the nine engines used on the Falcon 9 first stage—the second stage of the rocket delivers the payload to orbit after the main engines cut off. Pulling off such a recovery would

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We may have just witnessed the dawn of truly commercial spaceflight


Elon Musk had himself a day Thursday. For the first time in history, his company launched a fully reusable first stage of an orbital rocket. Then, for good measure, SpaceX landed that rocket for a second time on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Finally—because why not, when you’re on a roll—he attempted to safely return the $6 million payload fairing at the top of the rocket. Even that met with at least partial success. “This is a huge day,” he commented later. “My mind’s blown, frankly.”

Many minds were blown on Thursday as the 10-story tall first stage launched for the second time, hefting a 4,300kg payload on its way to a geostationary orbit about 36,000km above the Earth, and then returning to

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