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Blue Origin considers entering commercial space station business

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WASHINGTON — Commercial spaceflight company Blue Origin is considering development of commercial space stations, with NASA as a potential early customer.Blue Origin posted a job opening Sept. 18 for am “Orbital Habitat Formulation Lead” at its headquarters in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Washington. That individual will be charged with leading the company’s development of commercial space stations in low Earth orbit as a new product line. “To develop Blue Origin’s vision of millions of people living and working in space, humanity will require places for them to live and work: space destination systems in which value-creating economic activity can occur,” the company states in the job description. “LEO (low Earth orbit) habitable stations, learning from but going beyond the ISS (International Space Station), are a first step.”The job entails leading technical and business aspects of commercial space station development, including identifying customers and partners. It would also include…

NASA and US Space Force team up for planetary defense, moon trips and more

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NASA and the United States Space Force are banding together for the future of human spaceflight.As the agency moves forward with its Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the lunar surface by 2024, NASA is also working on its relationship with the newly-minted Space Force, which was formed Dec. 2019. Today (Sept. 22), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John "Jay" Raymond announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NASA and the U.S. Space Force. This agreement officially joins the two entities in collaboration with regard to "human spaceflight, U.S. space policy, space transportation, standards and best practices for safe operations in space, scientific research and planetary defense," NASA said in a statement. NASA and the Space Force have penned this MOU to "affirm a strong interest in continuing their longstanding partnership for mutually beneficial collaborative activities in furtheranc…

SpaceX gearing up for 12-mile-high test flight with Starship SN8 prototype

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 SN8 'should be done in about a week,' Elon Musk said.
The next big leap for SpaceX's Mars-colonizing Starship spacecraft appears to be right around the corner.
Two full-size Starship prototypes, known as SN5 and SN6, recently performed 500-foot-high (150 meters) test hops at SpaceX's South Texas facilities, near the village of Boca Chica. And the next vehicle in line is nearly ready to soar much higher, company founder and CEO Elon Musk said.
"SN8 Starship with flaps & nosecone should be done in about a week. Then static fire, checkouts, static fire, fly to 60,000 ft [18,300 m] & back," Musk said via Twitter on Saturday (Sept. 12).
Static fires are routine engine tests conducted while a vehicle is tethered to the ground. The engines that will be tested in this case are SpaceX's next-generation Raptors — likely three of them, to get the SN8 up so high. SN5 and SN6 sported only a single Raptor, and those vehicles didn't have nosecones or control-im…

As SpaceX Launches More Starlink Satellites, Early Tests Of Broadband Speed Promising

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SpaceX launched another batch of around 60 Starlink satellites Thursday from Cape Canaveral. There are now close to 700 of SpaceX’s internet constellation satellites orbiting the Earth.
The goal is to blanket the globe with broadband access, using these satellites to beam internet signals down to receivers on Earth. Unlike ground-based internet infrastructure, Starlink can reach users in remote places like rural towns, on the ocean or even in the air.
SpaceX said early testing of the system shows good results. The company said latency, the time it takes a signal to travel to its destination and back, is “super low.” Initial tests of the system’s download speeds are exceeding 100 megabits per second — fast enough to stream multiple HD movies at once.
The launch Thursday was Starlink’s 12th mission, launching on a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX landed the first stage booster on a barge in the Atlantic ocean with plans to recycle it for a future launch. SpaceX routinely recovers launch hardware fo…

SpaceX Super Heavy booster assembly to start “this week,” says Elon Musk

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CEO Elon Musk says that SpaceX is on track to begin fabricating Starship’s first Super Heavy booster prototype later “this week” and even revealed plans to hop that booster in the very near future.
Taller than an entire two-stage Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket, Super Heavy will be the largest and most powerful liquid rocket booster ever built by a factor of two (or more). Measuring ~70m (~230 ft) tall, Super Heavy will weigh at least 3500 metric tons (7.7 million lb) when fully loaded with liquid oxygen and methane propellant. According to Musk, SpaceX’s thrust target for the booster is 7500 tons (~16.5 million lbf) – significantly more than twice the thrust of the Saturn V and Soviet N-1 rockets and more than three times the thrust of SpaceX’s own Falcon Heavy.
On paper, while multiple times larger and more powerful, Super Heavy will be substantially simpler than Falcon Heavy thanks to its single-core. Built out of the same simple steel rings used to assemble Starship prototypes, Supe…

SpaceX kicks off orbital Starship launch pad construction in Texas

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CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that SpaceX is already well into the process of building an orbital-class Starship launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas.After much ado about nothing and a multi-day fan skirmish over whether a new SpaceX construct was meant for a water tower or launch pad, the debate can finally be brought to a close. As of almost two weeks ago, it was just shy of guaranteed that the concrete foundation SpaceX was working on would be wildly excessive for a water tower, turning it into a question of whether it would be a suborbital or orbital-class test stand for Starship.Now, Musk has confirmed – somewhat surprisingly – that the foundation will ultimately support an “orbital launch mount” capable of hosting what will eventually be the largest and most powerful rocket ever built.All the way back in September 2019, SpaceX actually broke ground on a separate orbital-class Starship launch pad at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). Despite rapid progress over the…

Japan's ispace aims to be 'gateway' for lunar business activity

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Toyota-backed startup offers new data service and raises $28m for 2022 landing
TOKYO -- Japanese startup ispace has launched a data service aimed at helping companies pursue business opportunities on the moon, part of the lunar rover developer's aim to become a "gateway" for commercial space activities.
The Tokyo-based startup says it will collect lunar data, including images, environmental data, telemetry and resources information, and provide them to potential customers including government space agencies, universities and private companies for mission planning and lunar surface development.
Ispace aims to become the first private venture to reach the moon, with its first landing mission planned in 2022. Interest in space-related business opportunities, including those on the moon, has been strong in Japan.
The company hopes to become a "gateway [by] helping companies design a blueprint for lunar market entry," said Takahiro Nakamura, chief operating officer of …