SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

A SpaceX launch site near Brownsville in South Texas is looking more likely, according to news reports.

Spaceflight Now quotes SpaceX founder Elon Musk saying, “I think Texas is looking increasingly likely,” although the final go-ahead is still dependent on environmental and regulatory approval.

According to Spaceflight Now, SpaceX believes it has enough business to justify four launch pads: two in Florida, and one each in Texas and California.

The Texas launch site would be dedicated to commercial launches, while NASA missions would continue to be launched out of Florida. SpaceX currently uses pad at Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and is also bidding on Pad 39A, the former Apollo/Shuttle launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

California is the site for polar launches (including military missions) from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

SpaceX has nearly 50 missions scheduled over the five-year lease period it is seeking at Pad 39A. SpaceX believes this is sufficient to justify developing and maintaining four launch pads. This demand is based on both the Falcon 9 and proposed Falcon Heavy.

An interesting question is now the reusable Falcon 9R, now in development, would affect these pad requirements. The answer to that question is unknown to us and, we suspect, probably unknown to SpaceX.

Written by Astro1 on November 16th, 2013 , Spaceports, SpaceX Tags:

Skylab 4, the last expedition to America’s first space station,  lifted off on November 16, 1973, with Gerald P. Carr, Edward G. Gibson and William K. Pogue on board.  It was the first flight for all three crewmen.  Their launch had previously been delayed for five days due to problems with the six-year old booster.  First, engineers found hairline cracks in the fins on the first stage, which had been manufactured in 1967.  They replaced all eight fins.  Next, technicians discovered similar cracks in the structure that connected the rocket’s two stages.  They added aluminum plates to the structural beams to reinforce them.  The final booster problem came after a practice fueling, when two of the fuel tanks buckled slightly as fuel was being drained.  Refueling the tanks under pressure forced the dome-shaped tops of the tanks back into shape and the Saturn IB was pronounced ready for flight.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Greg Kennedy on November 16th, 2013 , Space History

Citizen astronaut Richard Garriott (son of Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott) gave a stirring talk at the South By SouthWest music, film, and digital media festival last year. The talk is now available on YouTube.

Written by Astro1 on November 16th, 2013 , Citizen Exploration

One of the experiments proposed for suborbital spaceflights is the collection and return of particles from the near-space environment, some of which might contain the building blocks of life.  In 1935, scientists performed a similar experiment to collect spores in the upper atmosphere.  The 1935 experiment had no exobiology goals; rather, it was to determine if living spores, fungi, or bacteria were present in the stratosphere.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Greg Kennedy on November 10th, 2013 , Space History