Displaying items by tag: SpaceX
After months of consideration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally granted SpaceX a license for up to a million terminals that would work on the ground with the company’s Starlink satellite constellation to deliver global broadband internet service.
The license, which runs until March 2035, permits Starlink to install the 48cm diameter dishes anywhere in the continental US, plus Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Isles.
Unlike normal licenses, which specify very precise locations, the FCC has given SpaceX permission for “blanket earth stations”.
Word of the 15-year license’s approval came in a public notice issued by the FCC. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has described the plug-and-point terminals, which are made in California, as looking like a “thin, flat, round UFO on a stick.”
The satellites, orbiting between 328km and 580km above the Earth’s surface, making the round-trip ground-satellite-ground latency around 30ms, will provide global coverage – meaning SpaceX will need to apply for licenses everywhere it plans to operate.
The company says: “Starlink is targeting service in the Northern US and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.”
There are already 360 Starlink satellites in orbit, though it is unclear how many of that number have failed to work correctly. SpaceX is making them at a reported rate of six a day.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says he’s going to sell about $1 billion worth of Amazon.com’s stock annually to fund a space rocket company called Blue Origin, which aims to take paying passengers to space on 11-minute rides starting next year. Speaking at the annual US Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Bezos said he had dope to begin test flights with company pilots and engineers this year.
“My business model right now for Blue Origin is I sell about $1 billion of Amazon stick a year and use it to invest in Blue Origin,” said Bezos, who is chief executive of the e-commerce platform Amazon.com, and also owner of the Washington Post newspaper. Bezos said his goal is to make Blue Origin a profitable, self-sustaining business. His long-term goal is to make the flights affordable for everyone to enjoy.
Thomson Reuters data indicates that Bezos is Amazon’s largest shareholder, with 80.9 million shares. Amazon’s closing share price on Wednesday April 5 was US$909.28, which means Bezos would have to sell 1,099,771 shares to meet his target of selling $1 billion worth of his Amazon stock. The chief executive’s total Amazon holdings, representing a 16.95 percent stake in the company, are worth US$73.54 billion as per April 5 closing price.
In the meantime, Blue Origin is working toward short 11-minute space flights that are not fast enough to put a spaceship into orbit around Earth. The company’s aircraft is a gumdrop-shaped capsule called New Shepard, able to carry six passengers. Tickets for the 11-minute rides have not gone on sale yet. Test flights began in 2015 that were unmanned.
A mockup design of the capsule’s passenger seats was shared by Bezos, which showed six reclined seats, each with its own large viewing window. Blue Origin’s rocket and capsule is reusable and designed to carry passengers to an altitude of more than 62 kilometers above the planet to be able to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and witness the curvature of Earth set against the blackness of space.
The reusability of rockets is the defining factor that makes regular and affordable space travel possible, says Bezos, echoing Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of SpaceX. SpaceX recently achieved a first by re-launching a rocket for a second mission to put a spacecraft into orbit. Bezos said Musk’s approach to engineering is “a little different, but we’re very like-minded.”
Another project for Blue Origin is a second launch system to carry satellites, and eventually people, into orbit, similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule. The development costs for the system, known as New Glenn, will reportedly be US$2.5 billion. Bezos, who has a net worth of $78 billion according to Forbes, hasn’t indicated exactly how much he is willing to invest overall in Blue Origin.
Private rocket company SpaceX successfully launched a rocket into space carrying a cargo ship for the International Space Station following a delayed take-off on February 18 due to technical difficulties. The launch was made from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States.
According to reports, the rocket booster touched down successfully on land nine minutes after taking off. This routine is part of SpaceX’s strategy to return rockets to earth so they can be reused rather than jettisoning them in the ocean after a single launch.
The SpaceX Dragon supply ship reached orbit just moments after the rocket booster touched down, which prompted cheers inside the SpaceX Mission Control room, BBC reported. The cargo will make its way to the International Space Station.
SpaceX resumed its flight activities on January 14 by launching a Falcon 9 vehicle from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on the coast of California. The company had to halt its activities after one of its vehicles exploded on the launch pad in September 2016.
The company’s high-profile founder, Elon Musk, aims for SpaceX to be the leader among several companies striving to deploy satellite-based internet services over the next few years. SpaceX also has companies queuing up for a ride to orbit, such as America’s civil space agency (NASA), the US military and some in the commercial sector.
SpaceX launched 10 satellites into orbit on January 14 in a rousing return-to-flight mission that also included a rocket landing on a ship at sea. SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from a launch pad in California at 9:54 a.m. local California time, carrying 10 communications satellites to low-Earth orbit for the Virginia-based company Iridium, a global satellite communications, M2M and broadband company.
According to SpaceX representatives, deployment of the satellites began 59 minutes after liftoff and took about 15 minutes. The success of the launch was vitally important to SpaceX, following the September 1 launch pad explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 and its payload, the $200 million Amos-6 communications satellite. From that day on until the recent launch, SpaceX had been grounded as it investigated the accident and worked to ensure that something similar won’t happen again.
The cause of the incident was attributed to the failure of a high-pressure helium vessel inside the Falcon 9’s second-stage liquid-oxygen tank. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, described the incident as the “most difficult and complex failure” in the company’s history.
It wasn’t the first time SpaceX experienced technical difficulties. In June 2015, a Falcon 9 satellite broke apart shortly after launching the company’s robotic Dragon cargo capsule which was on a resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. It was later determined by SpaceX investigators that a faulty steel strut in the Falcon 9’s upper stage caused the fault. It wasn’t until December 2015 that an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 delivered 11 satellites to orbit for customer Orbcomm, making the first-ever soft landing during an orbital launch.
The main goal of the recent SpaceX launch was to successfully loft the 1,896-lb (860 kilograms) satellites into space, which are the first 10 members of Iridium’s planned 70-spacecraft “NEXT” constellation. According to Space.com, the other 60 satellites will also ride Falcon 9 rockets to orbit out of Vandenberg, on a series of six more launches.
"Iridium NEXT will dramatically enhance Iridium's ability to meet the growing demand for global mobile communications on land, at sea and in the skies," Iridium representatives wrote in an online description of NEXT, which they said will be the world's largest commercial satellite constellation when it's up and running, eventually replacing Iridium's current communications network, which consists of 66 satellites in low-Earth orbit.
On September 1, numerous eyewitnesses began reporting that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket had exploded during a test on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The SpaceX rocket was supposed to launch on September 3 on a mission to deliver Facebook’s first satellite into orbit to connect Africa. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was traveling through Africa when the news broke, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the incident.
The SpaceX rocket that blew up was scheduled to launch the Amos-6 communication satellite, which among other functions, included the capabilities for Facebook to spot-beam broadband for Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, Tech Crunch reported. Together Facebook and its French-based satellite provider Eutelsat spent $95 million for a five-year lease on the satellite’s Ka-band communication array.
“SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s standard pre-launch static fire test, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload,” SpaceX announced in a statement. “Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”
While no casualties were reported, the rocket and the Facebook satellite on it were destroyed. Reports say a replacement satellite could be ready in about three years. SpaceX is owned by Elon Musk, a businessman and investor who also operates Tesla Motors, the electric car company. He said that the “anomaly” originated around the upper stage oxygen tank and “occurred during propellant loading of the vehicle”.
Mark Zuckerberg expressed his disappointment with SpaceX and the accident that occurred in a Facebook post: “I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent.”
“Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well,” Zuckerberg added. “We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”
One Facebook user asked the CEO: “What’s insurance like on that type of thing?” Zuckerberg replied saying: “The problem isn’t the money; it’s that now it may take longer to connect people.”
Zuckerberg was traveling through Nigeria and Kenya when the accident happened – his first ever visit to sub-Saharan Africa, where he met with Joseph Mucheru, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Information and Communications, to discuss internet access and his ambitious plans for connecting everyone in Kenya.