SpaceX’s next astronaut mission for NASA has been pushed to November following an issue with its rocket engines

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Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover, Soichi Noguchi that are standing in the snow: From left: mission specialist Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on September 24, 2020. SpaceX


© SpaceX
From left: mission specialist Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on September 24, 2020. SpaceX

  • NASA’s next mission with SpaceX will launch “no sooner than early-to-mid November,” the agency announced Saturday.
  • That mission, called Crew-1, will ferry four astronauts to the International Space Station and back.
  • The launch was previously slated for Halloween. The delay allows SpaceX to investigate an issue with its Falcon 9 rocket engines.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NASA’s four-astronaut team will have to wait a little longer to visit the International Space Station. The agency announced Saturday that Crew-1, its joint mission with SpaceX, won’t take off until at least early-to-mid November.

The mission was previously scheduled for 2:40 a.m. ET on October 31. The latest delay allows SpaceX to evaluate an with its Falcon 9 rocket engines during a recent test launch. The rocket’s gas generators demonstrated abnormal behavior, NASA said in a statement, though it didn’t specify what went wrong.

SpaceX aborted a scheduled launch of its Falcon 9 rocket on October 2 after a gas generator saw an unexpected rise in pressure.


Falcon 9's first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines at the bottom of the rocket. NASA


© NASA
Falcon 9’s first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines at the bottom of the rocket. NASA

This isn’t the first time SpaceX has delayed Crew-1, the company’s first official, contracted astronaut mission for NASA. The mission was originally slated to launch as early as September. It was pushed back until Halloween to better coordinate with the schedules of other cosmonauts and astronauts going to and from the ISS. 

NASA said it could have more information on the engine problem in a matter of days. 

“The teams are actively working this finding on the engines,” Kathy Lueder, associate administrator

Musk: SpaceX’s Starlink has enough orbiting satellites for public beta

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  • Elon Musk said Tuesday that SpaceX’s internet satellite project, Starlink, has now launched enough satellites for its public beta.
  • Musk tweeted that once the most-recently launched satellites are in position, the company will roll out a “fairly wide public beta” in the northern US and southern Canada.
  • The goal of Starlink is to put a constellation of satellites into orbit that can beam high-speed internet to remote parts of the Earth.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Elon Musk’s goal of beaming high-speed internet to remote parts of the Earth using orbiting satellites just got a step closer to reality.

SpaceX on Tuesday successfully launched a batch of 60 satellites, bringing the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to more than 700, per Ars Technica. Musk, SpaceX’s CEO, said this is enough for a public beta.

“Once these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll out a fairly wide public beta in northern US & hopefully southern Canada,” he tweeted following the launch.

This beta would include the Detroit metro area and Ann Arbor, Michigan, he said, responding to a question on Twitter.

“Other countries to follow as soon as we receive regulatory approval,” he added.

Musk did not say exactly when the spacecraft were expected to reach their “target position,” and astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told Ars Technica that it’s possible they might not be in place until February 2021.

Musk said in April that a public beta for the service would be up and running in Fall 2020. He also said in May 2019 that a commercially viable “initial” version of Starlink’s service for the US would be possible with 400 satellites, while 800 would be enough for “significant” global

Case closed: California judge ends SpaceX’s lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force

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The judge said the Air Force’s actions were not arbitrary, capricious, or in violation of the law, and that SpaceX was not entitled to any relief in this action.”

WASHINGTON — A California judge Oct. 2 officially ended SpaceX’s 18-month-long lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force. Following a Sept. 24 ruling denying SpaceX’s claim, the judge on Friday ordered the case to be closed. 

U.S. District Court Judge Judge Otis Wright II of the Central District of California on Sept. 24 ruled against SpaceX in its legal complaint over contracts the U.S. Air Force awarded in October 2018 to United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin. 

The judge’s Sept. 24 order, first reported by Reuters, was sealed by the court because it contained sensitive information.

In the Oct. 2 motion to close the case, the judge noted that his Sept. 24 order denied SpaceX’s claim, “concluding that the Air Force’s actions were not arbitrary, capricious, or in violation of the law, and that SpaceX was not entitled to any relief in this action.”

SpaceX first filed the complaint May 17, 2019, with the Court of Federal Claims. The company argued that the Air Force gave an unfair advantage to the other companies by awarding them Launch Service Agreements and excluding SpaceX. 

After the Court of Federal Claims ruled that it lacked jurisdiction, the case was transferred in August 2019 to the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California.

The Air Force awarded Launch Service Agreements contracts to Blue Origin ($500 million), United Launch Alliance ($967 million) and Northrop Grumman ($762 million) to help the companies defray the costs of developing new rockets and infrastructure as they competed for a launch service procurement contract. 

SpaceX’s proposal for a Launch Service Agreement contract was to leverage its Starship

SpaceX’s Starlink in action: Internet satellites keep emergency workers online amid wildfires

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It’s emerged that SpaceX’s Starlink satellites have been delivering internet services since early August to the Washington state military’s emergency management unit helping residents recover from recent wildfires.

As noted by CNBC, providing services to Washington emergency responders is the first publicly known application of the satellite broadband service.   

SpaceX is currently conducting private Starlink beta trials with residents in some parts of northern US and lower Canada, including remote communities in Washington state, Starlink revealed in an FAQ posted on Reddit in July. 

SEE: Network security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

The Washington emergency division has been using seven Starlink user terminals, which SpaceX Elon Musk has previously described as like a “UFO on a stick”, with a skyward-facing disk that measures 48cm, or 19 inches, in diameter.  

Musk has previously described the end-user terminals as being as easy to set up as “point at sky and just plug in”. 

Richard Hall, the emergency telecommunications leader of the Washington State Military Department’s IT division, appears to confirm Musk’s claim. 

“I have never set up any tactical satellite equipment that has been as quick to set up and anywhere near as reliable [as Starlink],” Hall told CNBC. 

Hall also suggested Starlink was superior to other satellite broadband services his unit has used previously. Starlink satellites orbit Earth at an altitude of about 500km, or 311 miles, far closer to Earth than traditional conventional satellite broadband services. 

According to Hall, Starlink offers double the bandwidth of other services and said he’d seen more than 150% decreases in latency. “I’ve seen lower than 30 millisecond latency consistently,” he said. 

That’s a pretty good third-party reference for Starlink, which has faced doubts from the Federal Communications Commission as to whether it can deliver round-trip latencies below the 50ms that it has claimed in an FCC

SpaceX’s internet-from-space Starlink system helping first responders fight fires in Washington

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Responders fighting wildfires in Washington are getting some extra help from SpaceX and the company’s internet-from-space Starlink initiative. SpaceX loaned the Washington Emergency Management Division a handful of user terminals that can tap into the company’s Starlink satellites, providing internet to rural areas where first responders are battling raging wildfires.

SpaceX is still at the very beginning of building out its Starlink constellation, which could consist of nearly 12,000 satellites when it’s complete. That number of satellites could beam broadband internet services to every spot on Earth at all times from relatively low orbits, potentially providing global internet coverage from space. There’s still a ways to go. So far, SpaceX has launched nearly 800 satellites, though dozens have also been taken out of orbit. SpaceX plans to start beta testing in the Washington area with the satellites that remain in orbit.

“What happened is that they happened to have satellites that could reach our area,” Steven Friedrich, a spokesperson for the Washington Emergency Management Division, wrote to The Verge in a message.

The Washington Emergency Management Division is using two of SpaceX’s user terminals to receive broadband from overhead satellites. One is located near Malden, Washington, which was devastated by wildfires, and another is located near a smaller fire dubbed the Sumner-Grade Wildfire in western Washington. “Without the terminal, internet would be nearly impossible to achieve” near the Malden area, according to Friedrich. “My understanding is this is the first [public] use of Starlink and the partnership their technical experts have had with our team in the state [Emergency Operations Center] has been invaluable,” Friedrich said.