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US Space Program - A Thread

Discussion in 'The Americas' started by SvenSvensonov, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Live stream of SpaceX/Dragon CRS-10 Launch.



    Watching the rocket land in real-time is just amazing!!

    :USA:
     
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  2. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Falcon 9 lifts off on Debut Mission from Kennedy Space Center, 1st Stage Masters On-Shore Landing

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    It was over five years ago that the flames of an ascending rocket last graced a Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad when the Space Shuttle lifted off on its final voyage in 2011. Kennedy’s historic Launch Complex 39 returned to rocket launch operations on Sunday with a most impressive liftoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket – ushering in a new era of commercial launch operations from the storied space center.

    Launch Complex 39A, with an event-filled history dating back to the early 60s, saw off a dozen missions of NASA’s mighty Saturn V rocket including all Apollo missions to the lunar surface before taking on a new role of supporting the Space Shuttle for 82 of its launches. With the end of the Shuttle program came the transition of the Kennedy Space Center into a multi-user spaceport as facilities were re-purposed for numerous commercial and government programs, including LC-39A that was turned over to SpaceX in 2014 for a 20-year lease.

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    Sunday’s liftoff marked the culmination of what was essentially a re-build of the launch pad’s critical propellant and ground support systems with frantic work in progress on a 24/7 schedule over the last weeks to activate the launch pad for Falcon 9 missions after SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station pad suffered considerable damage in September’s Falcon 9 explosion.

    Falcon 9 lifted off from the southernmost of the two former Shuttle Pads at 14:39 UTC on Sunday, taking to the skies over a cloudy Space Coast to lift the tenth operational Dragon spacecraft into orbit for a critical supply delivery to the International Space Station. The 65-meter tall rocket swung to a north-easterly departure path and fired its first stage for the first two minutes and 21 seconds before the single-engine second stage took over for a nearly seven-minute burn to loft the Dragon into orbit.

    For the first stage, the flight was not over at separation, firing up its engines again to slam into reverse and blaze back toward the Cape. Another burn followed at re-entry ahead of 50 seconds of atmospheric descent prior to start-up on the center engine on the critical landing burn. The 46-meter booster mastered its landing, coming to rest on its fold-out landing legs to mark SpaceX’s third land-based recovery, the first daytime landing at Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone-1, some 15 Kilometers south from where the Falcon 9 had taken off just eight minutes prior.

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    SpaceX’s Dragon has a critical role within the Space Station’s cargo fleet as the only vehicle capable of returning hardware to the ground via a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. A return capability is critical in the Station’s scientific mission as samples collected for hundreds of experiments need to be flown back to Earth for analysis using ground-based laboratory equipment. There is also a desire to fly failed systems hardware back to Earth for inspections into equipment failures.

    Embarking on its tenth regular cargo run to ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services, Dragon is carrying a total of 2,490 Kilograms of internal and external cargo. Riding in the spacecraft’s trunk section are two external payloads – NASA’s SAGE-III atmospheric sensing instrument, setting out to continue a long-term record of the ozone layer and suspended aerosols in the atmosphere, and the STP-H5 pallet hosting 13 experiments selected by NASA and the Department of Defense in a program dedicated to research and development of future spaceflight technologies.

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    One and a half metric tons of cargo are inside Dragon’s pressure vessel; half of this mission’s upmass is dedicated to science as ISS heads into a particularly busy summer of operations with 300 studies planned over the course of the next six months. Flying aboard the Dragon are 20 mice that will live aboard ISS for about one month to study how bone tissues regenerate in the microgravity environment. Other experiments headed to ISS on the Dragon include stem-cell research, protein crystallization studies relevant for the development of pharmaceuticals, and a barrage of medical experiments for the Station’s crew to help understand the effects the space environment has on the human body.

    Dragon was originally booked for a Saturday takeoff, but SpaceX decided to scrub that day’s attempt just seconds before ignition to take the cautious route and investigate a suspect signature on the second stage’s Mvac engine that was not expected to impact the mission but was off-nominal nonetheless. The decision to delay the mission was made personally by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk who explained on Twitter that the movement trace of one hydraulic piston in charge of vectoring the MVac engine was out-of-family with previous launches.

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    Falcon 9 was lowered to a horizontal position after completing de-tanking, enabling engineers to access the interstage and replace part of the steering actuator of the upper stage engine’s redundant thrust vector control system. This work was complete by the early morning hours, local time, and Falcon 9 was back in a vertical position before sunrise to head into a multi-hour checkout activity.

    With a clean rocket, well-behaved ground system and partially favorable weather outlook, the SpaceX launch team gave a go to head into the fully automated tanking sequence at T-70 minutes. Utilizing the conservative loading sequence introduced after the testing accident in September, Falcon 9 received over 500 metric tons of chilled Kerosene and sub-cooled Liquid Oxygen plus cryogenic Helium needed to pressurize the rocket’s tanks in flight.

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    Comm loops remained very quiet as Falcon 9 checked off its critical pre-launch steps while Dragon did the same after entering its auto sequence at T-35 minutes. The speed of countdown events picked up noticeably at T-7 minutes when Falcon 9 began chilling its nine Merlin 1D engines at the base of the first stage to set the stage for ignition. The launcher made its transfer to internal power and the new Autonomous Flight Safety System, making its first operational flight, was armed. Final steering checks of the engines showed good results and Falcon 9 proceeded into the pressurization of its tanks.

    The rocket came to life at T-3 seconds when the nine Merlin 1D engines soared to a collective liftoff thrust of 694 metric ton-force. LC-39A’s Strongback structure rapidly moved away from the rocket at the moment of liftoff, an unfamiliar sight as SpaceX’s other launch pads host a TEL that retracts several minutes before clocks hit zero.

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    Falcon 9 took flight at precisely 14:38:59.5 UTC under the loud rumble of its nine engines, burning 2,500 Kilograms of propellant per second to lift the 549-metric ton rocket off the ground. It took only seconds for Falcon 9 to disappear into a low-hanging band of clouds that had moved in overnight with an area of unsettled weather which threatened to become a problem for the mission throughout the early morning hours.

    Falcon 9 passed the speed of sound one-minute into the mission and throttled back its engines briefly as it passed the area of Maximum Dynamic Pressure. While Stage 1 was still firing on all cylinders, the second stage’s MVac engine prepared for ignition by chilling down its turbomachinery.

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    MECO was confirmed two minutes and 21 seconds into the flight after the nine engines accelerated the vehicle of 1,676 meters per second. Pneumatic pushers separated the two stages three seconds after MECO, 65 Kilometers in altitude from where the first stage embarked on its return to Cape Canaveral and the second stage proceeded toward orbit.

    Firing up its 95,000 Kilogram-force MVac, the second stage was in action for six minutes and 51 seconds to lift Dragon into Low Earth Orbit. Three minutes and 10 seconds into the mission, Dragon separated its nose cap as it was no longer needed outside the dense layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

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    According to real time call-outs, the second stage functioned admirably as it headed north-east across the Atlantic Ocean, safing its AFTS and heading into Terminal Guidance mode towards the end of its burn for a precise orbital injection.

    Immediately after staging, the first stage fired its cold gas thrusters to swing around to an engines-first orientation for the boost back burn. Start-up of three Merlin 1D engines on the booster was confirmed right at T+3 minutes, tasked with reversing the booster’s travel direction and accelerating it toward Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone 1 where SpaceX established a large concrete pad.

    Upon completion of the 35-second boost back, the first stage again used its thrusters to re-orient itself for re-entry. Onboard camera views showed the thruster pulses and the deployment of the four actuated grid fins at T+4 minutes to deliver three-axis attitude control during atmospheric descent.

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    After three minutes of passive flight outside the atmosphere, the first stage hit the brakes at T+6 minutes and 32 seconds, firing three of its engines for around 15 seconds to slow down and shield the engine section from the most dynamic environments occurring at entry. The booster’s flight termination system was safed at the T+7 minute mark and its camera clearly showed the vibration of the stage in the dynamic entry environment, especially during the transsonic phase seven and a half minutes after launch.

    The center engine fired up seven minutes and 41 seconds into the mission on the critical landing burn, set for some heavy throttling to set the 46-meter tall booster down on its four fold-out landing legs. Double sonic booms announced the booster’s return to the Space Coast with much of its return hidden from view due to the dense cloud cover.

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    Onboard video showed fine-maneuvering by the grid fins as the booster punched through the cloud deck and entered a vertical descent to the central landing pad at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1, around 15 Kilometers south of Launch Complex 39A.

    Stage 1 needed eight minutes and seven seconds for its round trip to the edge of space, in the process dispatching a payload of nearly ten metric tons into orbit. After a near-bullseye touchdown, teams headed into remote safing procedures before crews could head out to the landing site to salvage SpaceX’s eight recovered booster, the third to make an on-shore landing.

    While the first stage went through its propulsive return, the second stage accelerated into orbit, shutting down its engine nine minutes and 24 seconds into the flight. Launch Control reported a good orbit achieved by the second stage and orbital data later showed Dragon in an orbit of 202 by 357 Kilometers, inclined 51.63 degrees.

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    Separation of the Dragon came one minute after propulsive flight ended, initiating a series of events aboard the spacecraft the most visible of which was the jettisoning of the solar array fairings and the deployment of the power-generating arrays 12 minutes after launch. SpaceX confirmed Dragon had begun firing its attitude control thrusters and initiated communications through the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

    Starting off its mission with an impressive launch, Dragon is set for a series of engine burns beginning later on Sunday to maneuver closer to the Station’s 400-Kilometer orbit. Rendezvous is set for Wednesday as Dragon closes in on ISS from behind and below ahead of a straight-up approach to the capture point where the spacecraft will be grappled by the Station’s robotic arm at around 11 UTC. Berthing to the Harmony module is planned later that day to kick off a five-week stay lasting until late March to facilitate busy cargo transfer operations inside and outside the Space Station.

    For SpaceX, the next launch is coming up in around two weeks with the EchoStar-23 satellite that will require Falcon 9 to fly in an expendable configuration with no attempt of booster recovery. That mission’s timing will depend on how fast LC-39A can be turned around with launch currently penciled in for NET February 28.
     
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  3. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    An American flag is visible in the windows of the cupola aboard the International Space Station. Thanks to a bill passed by Texas legislators in 1997 that put in place technical voting procedure for astronauts – nearly all of whom live in Texas – they have the ability to vote from space through specially designed absentee ballots. To preserve the integrity of the secret vote, the ballot is encrypted and only accessible by the astronaut and the county clerk responsible for casting the ballot.

    Image Credit: NASA

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    This Halloween, take a tour with NASA's Exoplanet Exploration site of some of the most terrifying and mind-blowing destinations in our galaxy. In this image, the nightmare world of HD 189733 b is the killer you never see coming. To the human eye, this far-off planet looks bright blue. But any space traveler confusing it with the friendly skies of Earth would be badly mistaken. The weather on this world is deadly. Its winds blow up to 5,400 mph (2 km/s) at seven times the speed of sound, whipping all would-be travelers in a sickening spiral around the planet. And getting caught in the rain on this planet is more than an inconvenience; it’s death by a thousand cuts. This scorching alien world possibly rains glass—sideways—in its howling winds. The cobalt blue color comes not from the reflection of a tropical ocean, as on Earth, but rather a hazy, blow-torched atmosphere containing high clouds laced with silicate particles.

    More: Galaxy of Horrors

    Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

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    In this photograph taken on Sept. 1, 2016, the James Webb Space Telescope Pathfinder structure has been configured for the Thermal Pathfinder Test at NASA Johnson Space Center's giant thermal vacuum chamber, called Chamber A. The Pathfinder is a test version of the structure that supports the telescope. This is where end-to-end testing of the actual telescope will occur in 2017.

    The dummy Aft Optical System (AOS) is visible in the center of the primary mirror segments. The AOS is the upright piece at the center of the primary mirror - it contains the telescope's tertiary and fine steering mirrors.

    Among the mirror segments can be seen are one gold-coated flight-spare beryllium segment (just in front of the AOS), one uncoated beryllium engineering unit segment, and ten gold-coated aluminum thermal simulator segments.

    The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

    Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

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    A group of U.S. Navy divers, Air Force pararescuemen and Coast Guard rescue swimmers practice Orion underway recovery techniques in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on Sept. 21, 2016. The uncrewed Orion spacecraft will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the San Diego coast at the end of its test flight with the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket during Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1). EM-1, Orion's first flight atop the SLS, will pave the way for future missions with astronauts and help NASA prepare for missions to Mars.

    Photo Credit: NASA/Radislav Sinyak

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    The western half of Australia, looking west, as seen from the Gemini XI spacecraft, 850 miles above the Earth on Sept. 14, 1966. Reaching this record-shattering altitude was a highlight of a demanding, three-day mission for Gemini XI command pilot Charles "Pete" Conrad and pilot Dick Gordon.

    Gemini XI docked with its Agena target vehicle just one hour and 34 minutes after liftoff on Sept. 12 and a first orbit rendezvous. On the first of the mission's two spacewalks, Gordon attached a tether from the Agena to his Gemini spacecraft.

    On Sept. 14, the Agena engine fired for 26 seconds, boosting Gemini XI to 850 miles above the Earth, breaking the 475-mile altitude record set in July 1966 by Gemini X. As Gemini XI continued on its 26th orbit, Conrad and Gordon reached the apogee over the southern hemisphere. "We're looking straight down over Australia now," Conrad said. "We have the whole southern part of the world out one window. Utterly fantastic."

    Image Credit: NASA/Dick Gordon

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    As Tropical Storm Hermine charged up the East Coast Sept. 2, 2016, Langley Air Force Base reached out to the Research Services Directorate and NASA Langley Research Center hangar manager Dale Bowser to see if NASA Langley could store a few F-22 Raptors. Even though the hangar in Hampton, Virginia, already had a large visitor — a C-130 from the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore — the hangar was able to carefully sandwich in more than a dozen Air Force fighters and offer them protection from the wind. NASA Langley photographer David C. Bowman captured the image using a fish-eye lens and shooting down from the hangar's catwalk some 70 feet above the building's floor.

    The hangar provides 85,200 square feet (7,915 square meters) of open space and large door dimensions that allow for entry of big aircraft such as Boeing 757s and other commercial or military transport-class planes. The hangar normally is home to 13 of NASA Langley's own research aircraft, when they are not out doing atmospheric science or aeronautics research. Still, there is enough space to share with neighboring Langley Air Force Base during emergencies. The facility is rated for at least a Category 2 hurricane.

    Built in the early 1950s, it was designed to fit a B-36. It can also accommodate the Super Guppy, which visited NASA Langley in 2014.

    Image credit: NASA/David C. Bowman

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    The second and final qualification motor (QM-2) test for the Space Launch System’s booster is seen, Tuesday, June 28, 2016, at Orbital ATK Propulsion Systems test facilities in Promontory, Utah. During the Space Launch System flight the boosters will provide more than 75 percent of the thrust needed to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth, the first step on NASA’s Journey to Mars.

    The booster was tested at a cold motor conditioning target of 40 degrees Fahrenheit –the colder end of its accepted propellant temperature range. When ignited, temperatures inside the booster reached nearly 6,000 degrees. The two-minute, full-duration ground qualification test provided NASA with critical data on 82 qualification objectives that will support certification of the booster for flight. Engineers now will evaluate these data, captured by more than 530 instrumentation channels on the booster.

    Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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    Following the Gemini XII splashdown on Nov. 15, 1966, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, left, and Jim Lovell are welcomed aboard the recovery aircraft carrier, USS Wasp, concluding their four-day mission. Gemini XII was the final flight of the Gemini program, a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs, designed to test equipment and mission procedures in Earth orbit and to train astronauts and ground crews for missions to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Gemini XII's command pilot, Jim Lovell, served on the 14-day Gemini VII mission in December 1965. A Naval aviator, he went on to be a member of the Apollo 8 crew, the first mission to orbit astronauts around the moon in 1968. As commander of Apollo 13 in 1970, Lovell became the first person to travel in space four times. Buzz Aldrin went on to serve as lunar module pilot on Apollo 11 in 1969, during which he and Neil Armstrong become the first humans to walk on the moon.

    Image Credit: NASA
     
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  4. GSLV Mk III

    GSLV Mk III Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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  5. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Eww... space cabbage XD

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    Cabbage Patch: Fifth Crop Harvested Aboard Space Station


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    After spending nearly a month tending to the International Space Station’s first crop of Chinese cabbage, astronaut Peggy Whitson harvested the leafy greens on Feb. 17.

    At first, one of the six seeds of the Tokyo Bekana Chinese cabbage variety seemed to have been planted higher than the rest, keeping it from getting wet enough in the beginning. But the on-orbit gardener would not be deterred.

    “Peggy is doing an amazing job,” said Veggie Project Manager Nicole Dufour. “She wouldn’t give up and she was able to get the seed in pillow D to germinate.”

    While the space station crew will get to eat some of the Chinese cabbage, the rest is being saved for scientific study back at Kennedy Space Center. This is the fifth crop grown aboard the station, and the first Chinese cabbage. The crop was chosen after evaluating several leafy vegetables on a number of criteria, such as how well they grow and their nutritional value. The top four candidates were sent to Johnson Space Center’s Space Food Systems team, where they brought in volunteer tasters to sample the choices. The Tokyo Bekana turned out to be the most highly rated in all the taste categories.

    Astronauts often report that their taste buds dull during spaceflight, and they frequently add hot sauce, honey or soy sauce to otherwise bland-tasting fare. One explanation for this may be that, in a reduced gravity environment, the fluid in astronauts’ bodies shifts around equally, rather than being pulled down into their legs as we're accustomed to on Earth. The fluid that fills up their faces feels similar to the congestion from a cold and reduces their ability to smell. Researchers suggest this phenomenon — combined with all the other odors aboard the confined orbiting laboratory competing with the aroma of their food — may ultimately dull their sense of taste.

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    At Kennedy Space Center, Veggie Project Manager Nicole Dufour instructs astronaut Peggy Whitson during the harvest of Chinese cabbage aboard the International Space Station.

    However, there is a backup plan to ensure the crew’s culinary delight. If the fresh Chinese cabbage they grew doesn’t awaken their taste buds on its own, packets of ranch dressing were also sent up to help them enjoy the fruits (or veggies) of their labor.

    What’s up next for Veggie? Two exciting prospects are on the horizon. Later this spring, a second Veggie system will be sent up to be seated next to the current one. It will provide side-by-side comparisons for future plant experiments and will hopefully make astronauts like Whitson happy to have a bigger space garden.

    “I love gardening on Earth, and it is just as fun in space . . .” Whitson tweeted in early February. “I just need more room to plant more!”

    Additionally, aboard the next resupply mission to the space station will an experiment involving Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant, and petri plates inside the Veggie facility. Arabidopsis is the genetic model of the plant world, making it a perfect sample organism for performing genetic studies. The principal Investigator is University of Florida’s Dr. Anna Lisa Paul.

    “These experiments will provide a key piece of the puzzle of how plants adjust their physiology to meet the needs of growing in a place outside their evolutionary experience,” Dr. Paul said. “And the more complete our understanding, the more success we will have in future missions as we take plants with us off planet.”

    Later this year, the Advanced Plant Habitat, NASA’s largest plant growth chamber, will make its way to the station, increasing the amount of scientific knowledge needed to dig deeper into long-duration food production for missions farther and farther from home.
     
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  6. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Overall it's still some time away from being completed, but major progress has been made and the SLS is on schedule.

    Let's take a look at some of the progress and milestones in the SLS program.

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    Dr. Patrick Shea inspects a nearly 4 3/4-foot (1.3 percent scale) model of the second generation of NASA's Space Launch System in a wind tunnel for ascent testing at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. The tests will help determine the larger, more powerful rocket's behavior as it climbs and accelerates through the sound barrier after launch. To also test a new optical measurement method, Ames engineers coated the SLS model with Unsteady Pressure-Sensitive Paint, which under the lighting glows dimmer or brighter according to the air pressure acting on different areas of the rocket. Shea, who is from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, was SLS aerodynamic test lead for the work at Ames.

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    The ICPS is the liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based propulsion stage that will give NASA's Orion spacecraft the in-space push needed to fly beyond the moon before it returns to Earth on the first flight of SLS and Orion in 2018.

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    A RL10 engine undergoes testing at NASA’s test facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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    Welding is complete on the largest piece of the core stage that will provide the fuel for the first flight of NASA's new rocket, the Space Launch System, with the Orion spacecraft in 2018. The core stage liquid hydrogen tank has completed welding on the Vertical Assembly Center at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Standing more than 130 feet tall, the liquid hydrogen tank is the largest cryogenic fuel tank for a rocket in the world. The liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank are part of the core stage -- the "backbone" of the SLS rocket that will stand at more than 200 feet tall. Together, the tanks will hold 733,000 gallons of propellant and feed the vehicle's four RS-25 engines to produce a total of 2 million pounds of thrust. This is the second major piece of core stage flight hardware to finish full welding on the Vertical Assembly Center. The core stage flight engine section completed welding in April. More than 1.7 miles of welds have been completed for core stage hardware at Michoud. Traveling to deep space requires a large rocket that can carry huge payloads, and SLS will have the payload capacity needed to carry crew and cargo for future exploration missions, including NASA's Journey to Mars.

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    NASA engineers successfully conducted a development test of the RS-25 rocket engine Thursday, Aug. 18 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. The RS-25 will help power the core stage of the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the journey to Mars. A variety of NASA officials and contractor representatives, as well as social and traditional media members, gathered to watch the 420-second test of RS-25 engine No. 0528. NASA is developing the SLS to send humans further into deep space than they have ever traveled, including on the journey to Mars. Prior to the test at Stennis, NASA hosted social and traditional media at its nearby Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, providing exhibits, tours and briefings on progress in the journey to Mars. More than 130 media members participated in the event. With the RS-25 test at Stennis, participants viewed evidence of the agency’s progress firsthand. The new SLS rocket will be powered at launch by four RS-25 engines like the one tested, firing in conjunction with a pair of solid rocket boosters. NASA has conducted tests of the new booster at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah, while all RS-25 developmental and flight engine tests will be conducted on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis. The tests are critical to ensure the RS-25 engines will perform as needed. RS-25 engines previously were used as space shuttle main engines, powering 135 missions to low-Earth orbit from 1981 to 2011. Although extensively tested for those flights, the engines now must fire at higher performance levels to power the SLS. The development tests at Stennis are providing key data on engine performance.

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    The NASA barge Pegasus, left NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on Nov. 1, 2016 and traveled on the Pearl River, arriving that night at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Pegasus will carry core stage test and flight articles, the largest parts of NASA’s new powerful rocket--the Space Launch System--from Michoud to several NASA centers for testing and for launch on the first SLS mission. SLS will have the payload capacity needed to carry crew and cargo for future exploration missions, including sending the first humans to Mars.

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    A test version of the launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) is moved to a 65-foot-tall test stand at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The LVSA will connect the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System rocket to the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS). The ICPS is a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based system that will give Orion the big, in-space push needed to fly beyond the moon before it returns to Earth on the first flight of SLS in 2018. The test version LVSA will be stacked with other test pieces of the upper part of the SLS rocket and pushed, pulled and twisted as part of an upcoming test series to ensure each structure can withstand the incredible stresses of launch.

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    A test version of the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) for NASA's Space Launch System rocket is loaded into the test stand at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Two simulators and four qualification articles of the upper part of the SLS will be stacked in the stand and subjected to forces similar to those experienced in flight. The ICPS joins the core stage simulator and launch vehicle stage adapter, which were loaded into the test stand earlier this fall.

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    A test version of the Orion spacecraft is pulled back like a pendulum and released, taking a dive into the 20-foot-deep (6.1 meters) Hydro Impact Basin at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Crash-test dummies wearing modified Advanced Crew Escape Suits are securely seated inside the capsule to help engineers understand how splashdown in the ocean during return from a deep-space mission could impact the crew and seats. Each test in the water-impact series simulates different scenarios for Orion’s parachute-assisted landings, wind conditions, velocities and wave heights the spacecraft and crew may experience when landing in the ocean upon return missions in support of the journey to Mars.

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    The Orion spacecraft crew module for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) is lifted into a test stand for pressure testing in the Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A team from NASA and Lockheed Martin is getting ready for Orion’s proof pressure testing, an evaluation that will help verify the structural integrity of Orion’s underlying structure known as the pressure vessel.

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    Engineers and technicians moved the Orion service module test article into the Reverberant Acoustic Test Facility at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio on Friday, April 8. Acoustic testing is scheduled to begin April 18. The blue structure sitting on top of the test article is a mass simulator that represents the Orion crew module.

    The test article will be blasted with at least 152 decibels and 20-10,000 hertz of sound pressure and vibration to simulate the intense sounds the Orion service module will be subjected to during launch and ascent into space atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. This is part of a series of tests to verify the structural integrity of Orion’s service module for Exploration Mission-1, the spacecraft’s first flight atop SLS.

    ...

    Ok there's still a long way to go, but the pieces and parts are coming together nicely. Construction is finishing, testing completed... it's all coming together on schedule for a debut launch in 2018.
     
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  7. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 27, 2016) U.S. Navy divers assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 and Mobile Dive and Salvage Company 3-1 tow a boilerplate-testing article, belonging to NASA's Orion program, from the amphibious transport dock USS San Diego (LPD 22) into the Pacific Ocean. The ship is conducting recovery operations with NASA's Orion program; they are testing a new towing technique utilizing NASA and naval technology with the goal of reducing manning and increasing safety.

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  8. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Minor stuff, but a good reminder of the depth of the US space program. If there's an interest, there's a program to study it.

    ...

    One Down, 3 to Go … Sounding Rocket Flies in Alaska to Study Auroras


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    The first of four sounding rockets scheduled for launch from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska to examine the structure of auroras was launched at 5:14 a.m. EST, Feb. 22, 2017.

    The Black Brant IX sounding rocket carried instruments to an altitude of 225 miles as part of the Ionospheric Structuring: In Situ and Groundbased Low Altitude StudieS or ISINGLASS mission.

    ISINGLASS, includes the launch of two rockets with identical payloads that will fly into two different types of auroras – an inverted-V arc and a dynamic Alfenic curtain. The launch window for the second rocket runs through March 3.

    Phil Eberspeaker, chief of the Sounding Rocket Program office, said, “It was good to successfully launch the first of the two rockets for the ISINGLASS mission. Now our attention turns towards launching the remaining ISINGLASS rocket and the two rockets for the Neutral Jets in Auroral Arcs mission.”

    The mission team is reviewing the data that was received during the flight.

    Kristina Lynch, ISINGLASS principal investigator from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, said, “The visible light produced in the atmosphere as aurora is the last step of a chain of processes connecting the solar wind to the atmosphere. We are seeking to understand what structure in these visible signatures can tell us about the electrodynamics of processes higher up.”

    The ISINGLASS payload includes the deployment of a sub-payload and also several instrumented deployable canisters. The use of these various miniature subsystems and the main payload will give researchers a multipoint view of spatial structures within the aurora.

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    A NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket soars skyward into an aurora over Alaska following a 5:13 a.m. EST, Feb. 22, launch from the Poker Flat Research Range. The rocket carried an Ionospheric Structuring: In Situ and Groundbased Low Altitude StudieS instrumented payload examining the structure of an aurora.

    In addition to the remaining ISINGLASS rocket, two additional rockets supporting the Neutral Jets in Auroral Arcs mission await launch prior to March 3.

    Rob Pfaff, scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the principal investigator for the Auroral Arcs mission, said, “Electric fields drive the ionosphere which in turn are predicted to set up enhanced neutral winds within an aurora arc. This experiment will seek to understand the height-dependent coupling processes that create localized neutral 'jets’ within the aurora and their associated heating and neutral structuring.”

    For this mission, two 56-foot long Black Brant IX rockets will be launched nearly-simultaneously. One rocket is expected to fly to an apogee of about 107 miles while the other is targeted for 201 miles apogee. As with ISINGLASS, the mission uses ground based instruments together with those on the rocket payload.

    Flying the two similar payloads simultaneously to different altitudes will provide researchers a vertical profile of the measurements within an aurora.

    The launches from Alaska are supported through NASA's Sounding Rocket Program at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia, which is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Orbital ATK provides mission planning, engineering services and field operations through the NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract. NASA's Heliophysics Division manages the sounding-rocket program for the agency.

    ...

    This is Black Brant IX.

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    The Black Brant IX and X series of sounding rockets use the MK 70 Booster of the RIM-2 Terrier SAM, one of the earliest guided missiles of the United States Navy.

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    Previous variants, including Black Brant VIII used a Nike booster, while Blank Brant XI and XII use a RIM-8 Talos booster.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  9. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    NASA Wind Tunnel Tests Lockheed Martin’s X-Plane Design for a Quieter Supersonic Jet


    Supersonic passenger airplanes are another step closer to reality as NASA and Lockheed Martin began the first high-speed wind tunnel tests for the Quiet Supersonic Technology, or QueSST, X-plane preliminary design here at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. In this time-lapse, engineers assemble a scale model of the design and install it in Glenn’s 8’ x 6’ Supersonic Wind Tunnel. Over the next eight weeks, engineers will expose the model to wind speeds ranging from Mach 0.3 to 1.6 to understand the aerodynamics of the X-plane design as well as aspects of the propulsion system.

    Supersonic passenger airplanes are another step closer to reality as NASA and Lockheed Martin begin the first high-speed wind tunnel tests for the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane preliminary design at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

    The agency is testing a nine percent scale model of Lockheed Martin’s X-plane design in Glenn’s 8’ x 6’ Supersonic Wind Tunnel. During the next eight weeks, engineers will expose the model to wind speeds ranging from Mach 0.3 to Mach 1.6 (approximately 150 to 950 mph) to understand the aerodynamics of the X-plane design as well as aspects of the propulsion system. NASA expects the QueSST X-plane to pave the way for supersonic flight over land in the not too distant future.

    “We’ll be measuring the lift, drag and side forces on the model at different angles of attack to verify that it performs as expected,” said aerospace engineer Ray Castner, who leads propulsion testing for NASA’s QueSST effort. “We also want to make sure the air flows smoothly into the engine under all operating conditions.”

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    Mechanical technician Dan Pitts prepares a nine percent scale model of Lockheed Martin’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) X-plane preliminary design for its first high-speed wind tunnel tests at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

    The Glenn wind tunnel is uniquely suited for the test because of its size and ability to create a wide range of wind speeds.

    “We need to see how the design performs from just after takeoff, up to cruising at supersonic speed, back to the start of the landing approach,” said David Stark, the facility manager. “The 8’ x 6’ supersonic wind tunnel allows us to test that sweet spot range of speeds all in one wind tunnel.”

    Recent research has shown it is possible for a supersonic airplane to be shaped in such a way that the shock waves it forms when flying faster than the speed of sound can generate a sound at ground level so quiet it will hardly will be noticed by the public, if at all.

    “Our unique aircraft design is shaped to separate the shocks and expansions associated with supersonic flight, dramatically reducing the aircraft’s loudness,” said Peter Losifidis, QueSST program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “Our design reduces the airplane’s noise signature to more of a ‘heartbeat’ instead of the traditional sonic boom that’s associated with current supersonic aircraft in flight today.”

    According to Dave Richwine, NASA’s QueSST preliminary design project manager, “This test is an important step along the path to the development of an X-plane that will be a key capability for the collection of community response data required to change the rules for supersonic overland flight.”

    NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of a supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator. This design phase has matured the details of the aircraft shape, performance and flight systems. Wind tunnel testing and analysis is expected to continue until mid-2017. Assuming funding is approved, the agency expects to compete and award another contract for the final design, fabrication, and testing of the low-boom flight demonstration aircraft.

    The QueSST design is one of a series of X-planes envisioned in NASA's New Aviation Horizons (NAH) initiative, which aims to reduce fuel use, emissions and noise through innovations in aircraft design that depart from the conventional tube-and-wing aircraft shape. The design and build phases for the NAH aircraft will be staggered over several years with the low boom flight demonstrator starting its flight campaign around 2020, with other NAH X-planes following in subsequent years, depending on funding
     
  10. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Satellite Trackers spot NROL-79 in Classified Orbit, confirm Identity as NOSS Duo

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    Satellite trackers successfully pin-pointed the classified NROL-79 payload dispatched to orbit this week by an Atlas V rocket, confirming its identity as a pair of NOSS spacecraft tasked with tracking foreign ships and aircraft on a global scale, delivering critical information for general awareness and tactical military planning.

    The identity of NROL-79 was known beyond any reasonable doubt before Atlas V took flight from California through clues in the mission’s launch vehicle configuration, launch site and most importantly the characteristic ascent path into the 63.4-degree Low Earth Orbit employed by the Naval Ocean Surveillance Satellite Program (NOSS). The timing of the mission also matched the ten-year replacement cadence of the third generation of NOSS spacecraft observed over the past several National Reconnaissance Office missions identified as NOSS.

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    Atlas V blasted off from SLC-3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 17:49:51 UTC on Wednesday, powering into clear skies with its Russian-built RD-180 engine that fired for just over four minutes before the trusted Centaur Upper Stage took over. The 70th Atlas V mission headed into the usual news blackout at the moment of payload fairing jettison at T+4.5 minutes to allow the NROL-79 payload to reach its classified orbit without the public watching. However, based on previous NOSS missions, satellite trackers developed search parameters to look for NROL-79 in the anticipated injection orbit of 1,000 by 1,200 Kilometers.

    Per the expected flight profile, Centaur was to complete a lengthy burn of its RL-10 engine to achieve an elliptical parking orbit ahead of coasting for half a lap around Earth to fire up again at the high point of the orbit and bring up the perigee to match the desired injection altitude. Spacecraft separation was to follow swiftly thereafter.

    The newly launched NOSS twins barely finished their first orbit around Earth when satellite tracker Scott Tilley, based in British Columbia, captured radio signals from the satellites – confirming their identity under two hours into the mission. With the satellites confirmed near the expected orbit, a worldwide network of satellite trackers sprung into action to visually observe the spacecraft and collect a set of observations for precise orbital determination.

    Visual observations were reported from France, Scotland, Australia, and the Netherlands and confirmed that two objects were visible in close formation, as can be expected for a NOSS pair. Updated orbital data shows the two satellites orbiting at 1,010 by 1,204 Kilometers, inclined 63.46° with a separation of 45 Kilometers between the two, according to satellite tracker Dr. Marco Langbroek who shared photos of the two objects passing over the Netherlands with the trailing object considerably brighter than the leading satellite.

    Over the coming weeks and months, the two satellites will undergo commissioning tasks and enter a precise formation that will be maintained over their 8+-year mission. Orbital fine-tuning will be performed over the next several days, but large maneuvers are unlikely given the near-perfect injection provided by the Atlas V launch vehicle. The satellites will also get brighter as they deploy their appendages such as solar arrays and radio intercept gear.

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    The satellites typically enter service around half a year after launch which will be indicated by the NOSS pair they replace drifting out of formation at the end of its mission. NOSS 3-8 is likely the replacement for the NOSS 3-4 pair launched by an Atlas V in June 2007 and delivered to an off-nominal orbit that required the satellites to complete dozens of maneuvers to achieve a compliant orbit and begin their mission in early 2008.

    As a classified program under operation by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, not much is known about the NOSS duos except their purpose. Flying under the codename ‘Intruder’ the satellites are manufactured by Lockheed Martin and each pair has a reported launch mass of around six and a half metric tons.

    NOSS pairs pin-point the position of foreign ships and aircraft by analyzing the delay in the arrival of the vessel’s radio signals at each of the satellites – explaining why a precisely known formation is required by the members of each pair.

    NOSS started out as a program in the 1970s with the first satellites, back then flying in a triplet formation, reaching orbit in 1976. First generation satellites were launched until 1987 before the second generation took over, being deployed until 1996. With the introduction of the third generation came a reduction of the triplets to pairs of satellites.

    It is suspected that the satellites use external panels to modify their ballistic coefficient for stationkeeping maneuvers with their counterpart. Over their operational lives, the satellites’ orbit undergoes a natural progression caused by Earth’s gravitational field that will force an increase in orbital eccentricity. By selecting the proper starting conditions in terms of altitude and argument of perigee, the NOSS pairs can be kept within 100 Kilometers of their operational orbit at 1,100km for eight years without the need for maneuvering which could disrupt the precise formation of the duos.
     
  11. SvenSvensonov

    SvenSvensonov MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Jeff Bezos announced Blue Origin's first fully assembled BE-4 engine at the company’s Kent facility, also noting that production engines #2 and #3 are expected to follow in close succession. BE-4 has been designed for a 100-flight lifetime and is expected to be used by the New Glenn Rocket as well as United Launch Alliance’s future Vulcan rocket. Although ULA is keeping its options open, BE-4 has been identified as the primary candidate for Vulcan with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR-1 considered a fallback plan in case BE-4 runs into major problems.

    Blue Origin is expected to begin hot-fire tests of BE-4 at the company’s West Texas site in the near future to qualify the engine for use on New Glenn and Vulcan, both aiming for initial flights before the end of 2020.

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    BE-4 or AR-1 will formally end the use of RD-180 by the United States.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
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  12. Nilgiri

    Nilgiri Lieutenant GEO STRATEGIC ANALYST

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    Always nice seeing lathe striation marks up close. Gives you an idea of of the size of that lathe :p
     
  13. BMD

    BMD Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Great pictures Sven, but is there any chance of reducing the size of them, because even with a 75Mbps connection they're taking ages.
     
  14. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Trump, with NASA, has a new rocket and spaceship. Where’s he going to go?


    The inside track on Washington politics.

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    Joel Achenbach By Joel Achenbach Health & Science
    March 12 at 7:08 PM
    NEW ORLEANS — NASA is building a jumbo rocket. It’s called the Space Launch System, or simply the SLS. The core stage of the SLS is slowly materializing in a sprawling facility on the outskirts of the city. Technicians are welding up a storm and have completed the largest component — a liquid hydrogen fuel tank that’s 133 feet from nose to tail and looks like a shiny metallic zeppelin.

    “This is our big boy,” said NASA engineer Stephen C. Doering, dwarfed by the tank resting on cradles in a high bay.

    NASA has a complicated way of building rockets that funnels money to multiple states in the southeastern United States. The SLS program is based in Alabama, at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Engine tests will be done in Mississippi, at the Stennis Space Center. The final stacking of the rocket and the launch will be from Cape Canaveral, Fla., at the Kennedy Space Center.

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    Technicians have completed the largest component of NASA’s Space Launch System — a liquid hydrogen fuel tank that’s 133 feet from nose to tail and looks like a shiny metallic zeppelin — at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Steven Seipel/NASA)
    Construction of the core stage is handled here in Louisiana, at the Michoud Assembly Facility, which covers the equivalent of 31 football fields. The vast structure survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and then a direct hit from a tornado earlier this year.
     
  15. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    I just watch history being made, first reuse of booster for space rocket.



    SpaceX launches first recycled rocket in test of cost-cutting model
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    By Irene Klotz
    ReutersMarch 30, 2017
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    By Irene Klotz

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A recycled SpaceX rocket recovered at sea from its first flight nearly a year ago blasted off again on Thursday from Florida on a satellite-delivery mission, another key step in founder Elon Musk's plan to slash launch costs by reusing his rockets.

    The Falcon 9 booster, which previously flew in April 2016, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 6:27 p.m. EDT (2227 GMT) to put a communications satellite into orbit for Luxembourg-based SES SA .

    The booster’s main section was set to attempt to land itself on a floating platform in the ocean, which would enable its recovery for a possible third mission.

    Musk's SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, made history in December 2015 when it landed an orbital rocket after launch for the first time, a feat it since has repeated seven times.

    By reusing rockets, SpaceX aims to cut its costs by about 30 percent, the company has said. It lists the cost of a Falcon 9 ride at $62 million but has not yet announced a price for flying on a recycled rocket.

    “We’re really looking for true operational reusability like an aircraft,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said during a launch webcast. “We're looking to land and relaunch on the same day.”

    (Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Bill Trott and Lisa Shumaker)
     
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