Launch vehicles

Blog about launch vehicles: rockets or aircraft

The Falcon 9 rocket Blasting off for its SSO-A SmallSat Express mission (Image courtesy SpaceX)

It was morning in California when SpaceX started a new record mission with the launch from the Vandenberg base of a Falcon 9 rocket whose first stage was on its third flight. Everything worked well, including the third controlled landing. In the meantime, the second stage brought a group of 64 small satellites into orbit and within about half an hour they were put into a Sun-synchronous orbit, hence the name SSO-A SmallSat Express mission. For SpaceX it was the 19th mission of the year, passing the 18 completed in 2017.

Artist's concept of Moon Express lander

At a press conference, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the new plans for the return to the Moon with the inclusion of a number of private companies that will have the chance to provide their services to send various types of payload. The program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) could start as early as 2019 and represents a first step towards a long-term goal, that is to establish a permanent presence on the Moon with an eye to Mars.

Yusaku Maezawa on Elon Musk's shoulders (Image courtesy Elon Musk. All rights reserved)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has revealed that the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be the first passenger of the spaceship that’s planned to make a trip around the Moon. This is an extension of the project announced last year given that, according to the new information, 6-8 people will participate but it’s scheduled to take place only in 2023. Another participant could be Elon Musk himself.

The Falcon 9 rocket with a Block 5 first stage blasting off (Image courtesy SpaceX. All rights reserved)

A few hours ago the Bangabandhu-1 was launched from Cape Canaveral on a Falcon 9 rocket with a first stage in its new version, called Block 5, at its debut. After about 33 minutes it separated from the rocket’s last stage and starte the series of maneuvers that will bring it into a geostationary orbit.

The Block 5 version of the first stage, also called a booster, includes a lot of improvements for the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX didn’t reveal all the details but a lot of information were provided by the company’s executives or leaked anyway. Various advancements concern performance, meeting NASA’s demands for manned launches, but above all with concern re-use possibilities, a crucial factor in Elon Musk’s company plans.

The Falcon Heavy rocketb blasting off (Photo SpaceX)

It was yesterday afternoon in Florida when SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral on its maiden flight. What was announced as the most powerful rocket in activity launched its owner Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster car with a dummy in a space suit nicknamed Starman to insert it into an orbit around the Sun between the Earth’s and Mars’.

The two side boosters, both already used in 2016 in previous missions, were the first to separate and then begin the maneuvers that led them to landing on the platforms set up for that task at Cape Canaveral. After a few seconds the second stage also separated from the core booster, which instead attempted to land on the autonomous spaceport drone ship “Of course I still love you”.