As early as March 2020, SpaceX is planning to launch SAOCOM-1B on one of their Falcon 9 rockets while doing something that nobody has done in over 50 years!
SpaceX successfully launched another set of 60 of their version 1.0 operational Starlink Satellites into low earth orbit on Monday, February 17, 2020 at 10:05am EST (15:05 UTC). The primary mission appears to have been another major success for SpaceX's Starlink program, however, their secondary experimental recovery missions suffered some unfortunate failures for both the Falcon 9's first stage booster landing attempt at sea on their autonomous spaceport droneship, Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY); as well as for their attempts to recover both halves of their protective payload fairings which they attempted to gently land under parachute at sea, aboard their support vessels GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief.
SpaceX launched another set of 60 version 1.0 operational Starlink Satellites into low earth orbit on January 29, 2020 at 9:06am EST (14:06 UTC). The first stage booster for this mission previously supported and launched their first Crew Dragon demonstration flight, DM-1, into orbit along with the RADARSAT mission in June 2019. The first stage booster was successfully recovered 630 kilometers downrange on their autonomous spaceport droneship, Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY).
SpaceX is ready for a major demonstration with their Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort Test, a major milestone before SpaceX begins flying astronauts.
SpaceX is in a little bit of a lull right now and it's actually it's not really a bad thing for SpaceX. They're actually in the unusual situation where they are ready before their customers are actually ready with their payloads. Still on track for 2019 we've got a couple of communication satellites that are still going to launch, we've got another resupply mission to the International Space Station that's scheduled for December, we've got a whole bunch of Starship and Super Heavy developments that are happening as well as potential Starship flights as early as next month and then we also have the In-Flight abort test and DM-2 missions for Crew Dragon that they're still trying to fit in for this year.
The big headline for the past couple of weeks has been the SpaceX Starhopper, because it finally completed it's big hop! If you're just coming up to speed, the Starhopper is the first step in the development of SpaceX's much larger Starship and Super Heavy rockets. You may have previously heard this referred to as the BFR or the Big Falcon Rocket. Prior to the most recent flight, the FAA had granted SpaceX the ability to complete unlimited flights tests to an altitude up to 25m and they have utilized that flight permit to perform 3 flight tests so far. Two of them were pretty small, just a couple of centimeters off the ground and one was a little bit larger at 59 ft or 18m. For the past couple of weeks, we've been waiting for SpaceX to complete the much larger 200m test, although the waiting dragged on while SpaceX and the FAA tried to come to an agreement on what the safety parameters would be so that the FAA could issue SpaceX a safety approval.
SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk has said that he wants to Nuke Mars but why?! Does he seriously want to Nuke Mars? Let's talk more about his ambitious plans for the future of our neighboring red planet.
SpaceX is almost ready to send it's Starhopper prototype rocket to it's highest altitude yet at 200m. This will prepare SpaceX for future Starship flights which is their much larger prototype development vehicle that is going to take people to the Moon and Mars.
The SpaceX Naval Fleet has grown by one and has a shiny new boat to help with payload fairing reusability. Learn about the newest member of the SpaceX Fleet here!