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SpaceX launches 20 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Station

A stack of SpaceX Starlink satellites, which included the first six featuring Direct to Cell capabilities. The batch launched on the Starlink 7-9 mission, which lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Jan. 2, 2024. Image: SpaceX

Update 12:09 a.m. EDT: SpaceX launches the Starlink 9-1 mission.

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket Tuesday evening, following the scrub of a planned mission for satellite communications company, SES, from Florida. SpaceX sent another batch of its Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit, which included another 13 with direct to cell (DTC) capabilities.

Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California happened at 8:40 p.m. PDT (11:40 p.m. EDT, 0340 UTC). This marked the 20th orbital launch from California in 2024 so far.



The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1082 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for a fifth time. It previously supported the launches of the United States Space Force-62 (USSF-62) mission and three Starlink flights.

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NASA moves Starliner landing to June 26 to collect more test flight data

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft photographed through the window of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule while both were docked to the International Space Station. Image: NASA

Boeing’s leak-prone Starliner capsule will remain docked to the International Space Station an additional four days, NASA announced Tuesday, returning to Earth with a pre-dawn landing at White Sands, New Mexico, on June 26 to close out an extended 20-day test flight, the first with astronauts aboard.

The additional docked time will give Starliner commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and co-pilot Sunita Williams more time to help out aboard the station while flight controllers and engineers continue scrutinizing telemetry and finalizing plans for re-entry with five known helium leaks in the capsule’s propulsion system and unexpected, presumably now-resolved issues with multiple maneuvering jets.

One jet will not be used for the remainder of the flight, but the other suspect thrusters were successfully “hot fired” during a test Saturday, giving managers confidence they will work as needed for post-undocking maneuvers and to drop the Starliner out of orbit for re-entry and landing.

As for the helium leaks, engineers say the spacecraft has more than seven times the amount needed for the remainder of the flight. During the hot-fire test Saturday the leak rates were less than what telemetry indicated earlier in the mission, but engineers are still assessing data to better understand the behavior of the system.

“We’ve learned that our helium system is not performing as designed. Albeit manageable, it’s still not working like we designed it,” said Mark Nappi, Boeing’s Starliner program manager. “So we’ve got to go figure that out.”



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Live coverage: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to launch SES’s Astra 1P television satellite from Cape Canaveral

SES’s Astra 1P satellite is encapsulated in a pair of payload fairings ahead of its planned launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on June 18, 2024. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX is preparing to launch a satellite to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) on behalf of one of its oldest customers: Luxembourg-based SES. The prolific launch company aims to bounce back from an unusually quiet period in its launch cadence, accented by a last-second abort as the engines on another one of its Falcon 9 rockets began to fire.

Liftoff of the mission is set for 5:35 p.m. EDT (2135 UTC). The mission is set to be the 45th orbital flight from Florida’s Space Coast in 2024.

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage beginning about an hour prior to liftoff.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1080 in the SpaceX fleet will launch for a ninth time. It previously supported the launches of two private astronaut missions for Axiom Space (Ax-2 and Ax-3), the European Space Agency’s Euclid observatory and four Starlink missions.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1080 will land on the SpaceX droneship, ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ If successful, this will make the 84th booster landing for JRTI and the 250th droneship landing for SpaceX to date.




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NASA, Boeing set new undocking, landing date for Starliner spacecraft

This view from a window on the cupola overlooks a portion of the International Space and shows the partially obscured Starliner spacecraft from Boeing docked to the Harmony module’s forward port. Image: NASA

NASA and Boeing teams pushed back the target undocking and landing date for the Starliner spacecraft from the International Space Station by four days. They shifted from June 18 to now no earlier than June 22.

The reason for the extended stay is in part due to a need to gather more information about the Starliner capsule with the benefit of having an astronaut crew assigned to study aspects of the spacecraft with additional detail.

“The crew can do more detailed testing into the various aspects of the spacecraft hardware with the additional time in orbit. It’s an opportunity that is important because the spacecraft is new and this is the first time carrying a crew that can perform this testing on-orbit,” a NASA spokesperson told Spaceflight Now. “Even though an effort is repeated, the additional work gives them a chance to refine what they saw the first time and pass more knowledge to the crews of Starliner missions to come.”

Some of the work that will be done in the next several days will also be to better understand some of the anomalies that Starliner experienced during its journey to the orbiting outpost and while docked.

A total of five helium leaks were identified over the course of the mission so far, beginning with the one characterized following the May 6 launch scrub. Ground teams are also studying a reaction control system (RCS) thruster oxidizer isolation valve in Starliner’s service module “that is not properly closed.”


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SpaceX scrubs the Starlink 10-2 launch from Cape Canaveral due to poor weather

A Falcon 9 stands ready for a Starlink mission at Cape Canaveral’s pad 40. File photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now.

Update 8:30 p.m. EDT: SpaceX scrubbed the mission due to poor weather; targeting Friday for launch.

Persistently poor weather caused SpaceX to stand down from a Thursday night Falcon 9 launch. Central and southern Florida have been hammered by rounds of thunderstorms and heavy tropical downpours expected to last several days.

Liftoff of the Starlink 10-2 mission is now set for 4:35 p.m. EDT (2035 UTC) Friday. The Falcon 9 rocket will carry 22 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit on the 44th dedicated Starlink mission of the year.

The mission marks the 61st Falcon 9 flight for the company in 2024, which will tie the total number of orbital launches it achieved in all of 2022. Spaceflight Now will have live coverage beginning about an hour prior to launch.

Heading into the Thursday launch opportunity, the 45th Weather Squadron forecast a roughly 25 percent chance of favorable weather during the new launch window.


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FAA, NASA seek public input on SpaceX Starship launches at the Kennedy Space Center

The Ship 29 upper stage of the fully integrated Starship rocket as seen before its fourth flight test on June 6, 2024. Image: Michael Cain/Spaceflight Now

The Federal Aviation Administration is preparing to gather public input on SpaceX Starship launch operations at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The request for comments comes about a month after the conclusion of an environmental review of a 100-acre expansion for SpaceX at its Hangar X site.

The pair of projects highlight an ongoing ramp up of activity for a company that aims to launch more than 140 Falcon launches by the end of 2024, most of them from Florida’s Space Coast.

“SpaceX draws a lot of attention. There’s no question about it. They’re doing a lot of amazing things and they draw a lot of attention from the public, not just locally or regionally, but worldwide,” said Don Dankert, the technical lead of the Environmental Management Branch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

On June 12 and 13, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will host a series of public scoping meetings to inform the public and answer questions about SpaceX’s proposal to launch Starship from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). There will also be a virtual meeting on June 17 for those unable to attend in person.

June 12 – 2-4 p.m. ET, 6-8 p.m. ET at the Radisson Cape Canaveral, 8701 Astronaut Blvd, Cape Canaveral, Florida 32920June 13 – 6-8 p.m. ET at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, Florida 32953June 17 – VirtualZoom Link URL: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89402979916ZOOM Meeting ID: 894 0297 9916Call-in number options (all toll-free): 833-928-4608, 833-928-4609, or 833-928-4610

Among those attending the public hearings will be representative of the Department of the Air Force, the U.S. Space Force, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Canaveral National Seashore and SpaceX.







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Starliner crew welcomed aboard space station

Space station commander Oleg Kononenko, flanked on his left by Starliner commander Butch Wilmore and on his right by co-pilot Sunita Williams, anchors a group photo of the lab’s seven long-duration crew members and their two visitors. Back row, left to right: cosmonaut Nikolai Chub, Jeanette Epps and Matthew Dominick; middle row, left to right: cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, Tracy Dyson and Michael Barratt. Image: NASA

Working around multiple helium leaks and thruster problems, the crew of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft wrapped up a challenging rendezvous and a delayed-but-successful docking with the International Space Station Thursday in a major milestone for the new ship’s first piloted test flight.

With commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and co-pilot Sunita Williams monitoring the Starliner’s automated approach, the Starliner’s docking mechanism engaged its counterpart on the front of the station’s forward Harmony module at 1:34 p.m. EDT as the two spacecraft were sailing 260 miles above the Indian Ocean.

A few moments later, the Boeing ferry ship was pulled in for a “hard” mating, ensuring an airtight structural seal.

“That was an OK, three-wire, fly Navy docking complete!” mission control radioed.

“OK indeed,” replied Wilmore, a veteran astronaut and former Navy test pilot. “Nice to be attached to the big city in the sky.”

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SpaceX to launch 20 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Vandenberg Space Force Base

A stack of SpaceX Starlink satellites, which included the first six featuring Direct to Cell capabilities. The batch launched on the Starlink 7-9 mission, which lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Jan. 2, 2024. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX is preparing to kick off the weekend with the launch of another batch of its Starlink satellites. The mission, dubbed Starlink 8-8, will add 20 more satellites to the low Earth orbit constellation, including 13 that have Direct to Cell capabilities.

Liftoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base is set for 5:58 a.m. PDT (8:58 a.m. EDT, 1258 UTC). The launch comes less than 12 hours after SpaceX launched 22 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and roughly 48 hours after launching the fourth flight of its Starship rocket from southern Texas.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1061 in the SpaceX fleet, will be launching for a 21st time, tying B1062 as the company’s flight leaders. B1061 previously launched two quartets of astronauts (Crew-1 and Crew-2), two multi-satellite rideshare missions (Transporter-4 and Transporter-5) as well as nine previous Starlink missions.

A little more than minutes after liftoff, B1061 will land on SpaceX’s droneship, ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’ If successful, it will mark the 92nd landing on OCISLY and the 318th booster landing to date.

On June 1, Michael Nicolls, SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink Engineering, noted that the 11 Starlink launches in May included 26 Direct to Cell Starlink satellites which presented “over 8 percent of the sats needed for initial direct-to-cell service.”

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SpaceX launches 22 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Cape Canaveral

A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on June 7, 2024. The mission, Starlink 10-1, was the first to send Starlink satellites to this shell of the mega constellation. Image: Spaceflight Now

Update 8:57 p.m. EDT: SpaceX adjusted the T-0 liftoff time.

SpaceX followed up its fourth test flight of its massive Starship rocket in southern Texas with a Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Friday night flight marked the 344th Falcon 9 to launch, a little more than 14 years after its launch debut on June 4, 2010.

The Starlink 10-1 mission added another 22 satellites to the massive constellation consisting of more than 6,000 active satellites in low Earth orbit, according to expert orbital tracker and astronomer, Jonathan McDowell. Liftoff from pad 40 happened at 9:56 p.m. EDT (0156 UTC).

The first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1069 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for a 16th time. It previously supported the launch of SpaceX’s 24th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (CRS-24), Eutelsat’s Hotbed 18F satellite and 11 previous batches of Starlink satellites.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1069 will land on the SpaceX booster, ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas.’ This was the 74th landing of a booster on ASOG and the 317th booster landing to date. If you set the landings of the Falcon Heavy side booster aside, this was also the 301st booster landing from a Falcon 9 rocket.

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Live coverage: SpaceX to launch its Starship rocket on its fourth test flight

SpaceX restacked its nearly 400-foot-tall Starship rocket on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in anticipation of launching it on the fourth test flight of the program the following day. Image: Michael Cain/Spaceflight Now

For a fourth time in a little more than a year, SpaceX is preparing to launch a test mission of its massive Starship rocket from its development facility in southern Texas called Starbase. The launch, dubbed Flight 4, will push the launch vehicle towards its goal of being a mostly reusable rocket.

Similarly to the previous three launches, Flight 4 will not include a payload and will fly a suborbital trajectory. Liftoff is set for 7:20 a.m. CDT (8:20 a.m. EDT, 1220 UTC), near the opening of a 120-minute window.

Spaceflight Now will have joint live coverage alongside LabPadre beginning at 6:45 a.m. EDT (1045 UTC).

On Wednesday, SpaceX stacked the Ship upper stage (Ship 29) on top of the Super Heavy Booster (Booster 11) to create the 121 m (397 ft) Starship rocket. Both components will be expended as a result of the flight, but the way SpaceX structured the mission, it hopes this will demonstrate their future reuse capabilities.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on June 1, SpaceX founder Elon Musk stated that “the main goal of this mission is to get much deeper into the atmosphere during reentry, ideally through max heating.”







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Live coverage: NASA, Boeing and ULA prepare third launch attempt of the Starliner Crew Flight Test

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, Friday, May 31, 2024 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test is the first launch with astronauts of the Boeing CFT-100 spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The flight test, targeted for launch at 12:25 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 1, serves as an end-to-end demonstration of Boeing’s crew transportation system and will carry NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to and from the orbiting laboratory. Image: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Launch teams are hoping that the third time will be the charm for the first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. It’s most recent launch attempt came within minutes of sending Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams on their way to the International Space Station, but was tripped up at the finish line when one of three redundant computers ran into trouble.

The problem was sourced back to what NASA described as “a failed power distribution source, which was fixed on June 2 by United Launch Alliance (ULA) engineers. The Starliner mission management team polled ‘go’ to proceed towards a launch attempt on June 5 at 10:52 a.m. EDT (1452 UTC).

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage of the mission beginning more than four hours prior to liftoff.

“I really appreciate all the work by the NASA, Boeing, and ULA teams over the last week,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, in a statement. “In particular, the ULA team worked really hard to quickly learn more about these issues, keep our NASA and Boeing teams informed, and protect for this next attempt. We will continue to take it one step at a time.”

Heading into the launch attempt, the 45th Weather Squadron forecast a 90 percent chance of favorable weather at liftoff with only cumulus clouds of possible concern. With some of the sunspots that caused the recent auroras around globe reemerging this week, meteorologists are also keeping an eye on solar activity.


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Despite gyro failure, NASA says Hubble Space Telescope still up to world-class science

The Hubble Space Telescope is seen after its release from the space shuttle Columbia during a 2002 servicing mission. Credit: NASA
Trouble with one of the Hubble Space Telescope’s three remaining gyroscopes, critical for aiming and locking onto targets, has prompted mission managers to switch to a backup control mode that will limit some observations but keep the iconic observatory running well into the 2030s, officials said Tuesday.
“We still believe there’s very high reliability and likelihood that we can operate Hubble very successfully, doing groundbreaking science, through the rest of the 20s and into the 2030s,” Patrick Crouse, the Hubble project manager, told reporters during an afternoon teleconference.
At the same time, Mark Clampin, director of astrophysics at NASA Headquarters, said the agency had ruled out, at least for now, a proposed commercial mission to boost Hubble to a higher altitude using a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The flight was suggested by SpaceX and Crew Dragon veteran Jared Isaacman as a way to extend Hubble’s lifetime.
By boosting the telescope to a higher altitude, the subtle effects of “drag” in the extreme outer atmosphere, which act to slowly but surely pull spacecraft back to Earth, could be reduced. Isaacman, a billionaire who chartered the first fully commercial flight to low-Earth orbit in 2021, is in training to lead three more SpaceX “Polaris” missions, including a flight this summer in which he plans to become the first private citizen to stand in an open hatch and float, if not walk, in space.
But project managers said Tuesday Hubble is in no danger of falling back to Earth anytime soon. The latest calculations show the observatory will remain in orbit until at least 2035, allowing time to consider possible options, if warranted, down the road.
“After exploring the current commercial capabilities, we are not going to pursue a reboost right now,” Clampin said. “We greatly appreciate the in-depth analysis conducted by the NASA and (the SpaceX-Isaacman) program and our other potential partners, and it’s certainly given us better insight into the considerations for developing a future commercial reboost mission.

“But our assessment also raised a number of considerations, including potential risks such as premature loss of science and some technology challenges. So while the reboost is an option for the future, we believe we need to do some additional work to determine whether the long-term science return will outweigh the short-term science risk.”

Even though I was not at NASA during the final steps that left of the ultimate demise (for now, at least) of the Polaris-Hubble mission, I can attest to the deep analysis and incredible and deep collaboration between @SpaceX, Polaris, and Hubble experts both from NASA and STScI. https://t.co/Nf3TfTxfjv

— Thomas Zurbuchen (@Dr_ThomasZ) May 18, 2024

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched aboard the shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, with a famously flawed mirror, the opening chapter of an improbable tale in which spacewalking repair crews turned a national embarrassment into an international icon of science.
Hubble was initially hobbled by an error during the 94.5-inch primary mirror’s fabrication that resulted in an optical defect known as spherical aberration, preventing the telescope from bringing starlight to a sharp focus.
But engineers quickly figured out a way to correct Hubble’s blurry vision. They designed a new camera equipped with relay mirrors ground to prescriptions that would exactly counteract the primary mirror’s aberration. Another device, known as COSTAR, was designed to direct corrected light into Hubble’s other instruments.
During a make-or-break December 1993 shuttle servicing mission, the new Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and COSTAR were installed by spacewalking astronauts. They also replaced Hubble’s solar panels and other critical components.
The Hubble Space Telescope pictured during the final space shuttle servicing mission in 2009. Credit: NASA
NASA would go on to launch four more servicing missions, installing new, state-of-the-art instruments and replacing aging components like critical fine guidance sensors and gyroscopes, which move the telescope from target to target and then lock-on with rock-solid stability for detailed observations.
The gyroscopes are critical to Hubble’s longevity. The telescope was launched with six ultra-stable gyroscopes, but only three at a time are needed for normal operation. During the final servicing mission in 2009, all six were replaced. Three of the new units included hair-thin “flex lead” power and data lines susceptible to a form of corrosion while the other three featured an improved design that greatly reduced or eliminated that risk.
In any case, by the time Hubble’s 30th anniversary rolled around in 2020, all three of the six older-model gyros had failed.
One of the remaining three units, gyro No. 3, began acting erratically earlier, and its performance progressively worsened. On May 24, the gyro was taken off line, putting the observatory into protective “safe mode,” halting science operations while engineers discussed their options.
Knowing gyro failures were inevitable, engineers earlier developed software that would allow Hubble to operate with just two gyros or even one. The downside was that the telescope could only reach targets in about half the sky at any given time instead of 85 percent or more with all three gyros.
Even though the telescope could be operated more efficiently with two gyros, engineers concluded it would make more sense to put one of the two remaining healthy units in stand-by mode and to operate Hubble with just one gyro, holding the other in reserve for use as needed.
“Our team first developed a plan for one-gyro operations over 20 years ago, and it is the best mode to go forward to prolong Hubble’s life,” Crouse said. “There are some limitations. It will take us more time to (move) from one target attitude to the next and to be able to lock on to that science target.
“That will lead to lower efficiency for scheduling science observations. We currently schedule about 85 orbits a week and we expect (to be) able to schedule about 74 hours a week, so about 12 percent reduction in scheduling efficiency.”
At first glance, this image is dominated by the vibrant glow of the swirling spiral to the lower left of the frame. However, this galaxy is far from the most interesting spectacle here — behind it sits a galaxy cluster. Galaxies are not randomly distributed in space; they swarm together, gathered up by the unyielding hand of gravity, to form groups and clusters. The Milky Way is a member of the Local Group, which is part of the Virgo Cluster, which in turn is part of the 100,000-galaxy-strong Laniakea Supercluster. The galaxy cluster seen in this image is known as SDSS J0333+0651. Clusters such as this can help astronomers understand the distant — and therefore early — universe. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
In addition, because the telescope’s movement in single-gyro mode is less precise and subject to error, “we won’t have quite as much flexibility as to where we can observe in the sky at any one time. But over the course of a year, we will have the full sky available to us.”
One other limitation: the telescope will not be able to lock onto and track targets closer than the orbit of Mars, though such observations were rare even in three-gyro mode.
In the meantime, engineers plan to implement the one-gyro control mode in the coming days and to return Hubble to science operations around the middle of the month.
“We updated reliability assessments for the gyros … and we still come to the conclusion that (we have a) greater than 70 percent probability of operating at least one gyro through 2035,” Crouse said.
The infrared-sensitive James Webb Space Telescope is building on Hubble’s legacy, pushing deeper into space and time and producing a steady stream of discoveries as it moves to the forefront of space-based astronomy. But Hubble is still making world-class observations, and astronomers want to keep it operating as long as possible.



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SpaceX launches 20 Starlink satellites on 14th anniversary of the first Falcon 9 launch

A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the Starlink 8-5 mission on June 4, 2024. The mission coincided with the 14th anniversary of the first Falcon 9 launch in 2010. Image: Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday night, 14 years to the day when the rocket made its launch debut from the same pad. Since that day, SpaceX launched more than 340 Falcon 9 rockets, 285 of which were using previously flown boosters.

The Starlink 8-5 mission lifted off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 10:16 p.m. EDT (0216 UTC).

The Falcon 9 first stage booster, tail number B1067 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for a 20th time. It previously supported the flights of two Crew Dragon astronaut missions, two Cargo Dragon resupply missions to the International Space Station and 10 previous Starlink delivery runs.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1067 landed on the SpaceX droneship ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ This was the 83rd landing using JRTI and the 316th booster landing to date.

Onboard the Falcon 9 flight were 20 Starlink V2 Mini satellites, including 13 that feature direct to cellphone capabilities.


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Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko reaches 1,000 cumulative days in space

Expedition 70 NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara, left, Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko, and Nikolai Chub, right, are seen in quarantine behind glass during a press conference, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023 at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. O’Hara, Kononenko, Chub are launched aboard their Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft on Sept. 15. Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko continues to cement a place in the annals of space history with his historic mission on board the International Space Station. On Wednesday, he became the first person to reach 1,000 cumulative days in space.

The milestone comes amid his fifth flight to space and during his third stint as the commander of the ISS. Back in February, Kononenko broke the cumulative in-space record of 878 days, which was previously held by former cosmonaut Gennady Padalka.

His most recent trip to the orbiting laboratory began with a launch aboard the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft on Sept. 15, 2023, alongside cosmonaut Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara. He’s scheduled to return with Chub and NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson in September 2024.

Spaceflight Now spoke with Emmanuel Urquieta, the former chief medical officer of the NASA-funded Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH), which is led by Baylor College of Medicine. He was recently tapped by the University of Central Florida (UCF) to serve as the vice chair for aerospace medicine in its Department of Internal Medicine.

“It takes a special kind of person to be able to achieve such a record,” Urquieta said. “It’s a long time, but I think that it is one of those data points that I hope that we will start getting more of those in the future.”





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NASA foregoes Sunday launch, delaying Starliner takeoff to at least Wednesday

The seemingly star-cross Boeing Starliner — within minutes of its long-delayed blastoff on the spacecraft’s first piloted test flight — was grounded again Saturday when one of three redundant computers managing the countdown from the base of the launch pad ran into a problem, triggering a last-minute scrub.

Engineers initially were told to set up for another launch try Sunday, at 12:03 p.m. EDT, assuming the problem could be resolved in time. But NASA later announced the team would pass up the Sunday opportunity to give engineers more time to assess the computer issue.

The Starliner’s test flight includes rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station. Based on the lab’s orbit and the Starliner’s ability to to catch up, the next two launch opportunities after Sunday are Wednesday, at 10:52 a.m. EDT, and Thursday, at 10:29 a.m. NASA said the agency would provide an update Sunday.

The Starliner’s crew, commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and co-pilot Sunita Williams, came within about two hours of launch on May 6, only to be derailed by trouble with a pressure relief valve in their Atlas 5 rocket and a helium leak in the capsule’s propulsion module.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of a launch attempt with Boeing’s Starliner capsule. Image: NASA TV.

Those problems were resolved and after a few minor snags Saturday, the countdown appeared to be ticking smoothly toward a planned launch at 12:25 p.m. EDT. But 10 seconds after the countdown came out of a planned hold at the T-minus 4-minute mark, the clocks suddenly stopped ticking.


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News from the Press Site: Business of Starlink and Boeing’s Starliner prepares to launch – News from the Press Site

In this week’s edition of News from the Press Site, Spaceflight Now’s Will Robinson-Smith is joined by Mike Wall, Spaceflight and Tech Editor for Space.com; and Caleb Henry, Director of Research at Quilty Space.

The panel discusses pending launch of Boeing’s first crewed Starliner mission to the International Space Station, the progress towards SpaceX’s fourth flight of its Starship rocket, the business and the increasing number of climate observing satellites launching to space.

Mike Wall, Space.com:

Watch Russian cargo spacecraft arrive at the ISS on June 1 https://www.space.com/russia-progress…Watch Rocket Lab launch shoebox-sized NASA climate satellite tonight https://www.space.com/rocket-lab-pref…Russian Soyuz rocket launches tons of supplies to ISS on Progress 88 cargo ship (video) https://www.space.com/russia-progress…

Caleb Henry, Quilty Space:

Quilty Space Starlink Webinar https://mailchi.mp/quiltyspace.com/we…Caleb’s Substack – Announcing the OneWeb Book https://chenryspace.substack.com/p/an…

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Live coverage: SpaceX to launch 14th Falcon 9 rocket of May using booster flying for 14th time

A Falcon 9 stands ready for a Starlink mission at Cape Canaveral’s pad 40. File photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now.

Update 3:07 p.m. EDT: SpaceX pushed back the T-0 liftoff time of the Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX continues to push the pace of its launch cadence as it readies another Falcon 9 rocket for flight on Friday evening. If successful, the mission will mark SpaceX’s 14th launch of the month, a new industry record for launch.

Of course, the milestone would be adding to the record set earlier this week, when SpaceX launched its 13th Falcon 9 to send the European Space Agency’s EarthCARE satellite up to orbit. Liftoff of this latest mission, Starlink 6-64 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, is set for 10:11 p.m. EDT (0211 UTC).

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage beginning about an hour prior to liftoff.

The first stage booster for this mission, tail number B1076 in the SpaceX fleet, will be launching for a 14th time. It previously launched missions like SpaceX’s 26th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-26) Dragon flight to the International Space Station, NASA’s TEMPO payload onboard the Intelsat 40e satellite and seven batches of Starlink satellites.

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Live coverage: SpaceX to launch ESA’s EarthCARE on a Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base

A rendering of the Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) spacecraft onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 second stage as the payload fairings deploy. Graphic: ESA

The European Space Agency is preparing to launch its latest Earth observing satellite, designed to better understand the climate. The Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) has four instruments which will study clouds and aerosols around the Earth “to improve the accuracy of climate models and support numerical weather prediction.”

ESA’s spacecraft will launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base. Liftoff is set for 3:20 p.m. PDT (6:20 p.m. EDT, 2220 UTC).

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage beginning about 30 minutes prior to liftoff.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1081 in the SpaceX fleet, will launch for a seventh time. It previously launched Crew-7; SpaceX’s 29th Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-29); NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE); the Transporter-10 rideshare mission; and two Starlink flights (6-34 and 8-1).

A little less than eight minutes after liftoff, B1081 will return to VSFB to touchdown at Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4). This will be the 19th landing at LZ-4 and the 314th booster landing to date.




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Live coverage: SpaceX to launch 23 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Cape Canaveral

A Falcon 9 stands ready for a Starlink mission at Cape Canaveral’s pad 40. File photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now.

SpaceX is kicking off the morning of Memorial Day with a Falcon 9 flight about an hour after sunrise. The Starlink 6-60 mission will add another 23 spacecraft to the company’s growing mega-constellation of internet relay satellites, serving more than three million customers.

The Falcon 9 rocket is set to liftoff from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 UTC). If needed there are multiple backup opportunities through 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 UTC).

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage beginning about an hour prior to liftoff.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster, tail number B1078 in the SpaceX fleet, will be launching for a 10th time. Its previous launches included the Crew-6 astronaut mission to the International Space Station; USSF-124, the second SpaceX mission under the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 contract; and six Starlink missions.

A little more than eight minutes after liftoff, B1078 is set to touch down on the SpaceX droneship, ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas.’ If successful, it will be the 72nd booster landing for ASOG and the 313th booster landing for SpaceX to date.

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SpaceX details learnings from Starship Flight 3, sets June 5 as target launch date for Flight 4

Onboard cameras on the Starship upper stage flown during Flight 3 (Starship IFT-3) show the vehicle surrounded by plasma as it reenters the atmosphere on March 14, 2024. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX is preparing to launch its massive Starship rocket on its fourth flight test from its Starbase facilities in southern Texas as soon as June 5. The target launch date comes a little less than three months after Flight 3 on March 14.

In a pair of posts on its website, SpaceX outlined the learnings from Flight 3, the mission objectives for Flight 4 and the differences between the timing of everything between these two pieces of the development campaign.

The Flight 4 launch window is set to open on June 5 at 7 a.m. CDT (8 a.m. EDT (1200 UTC). However, as SpaceX points out, they are still waiting on regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In this latest go-around, SpaceX isn’t going to attempt some of the additional flight items it tried during Flight 3, like operating the payload bay door or reigniting the vacuum engines on the upper stage.

“The fourth flight test turns our focus from achieving orbit to demonstrating the ability to return and reuse Starship and Super Heavy,” SpaceX said in a statement. “The primary objectives will be executing a landing burn and soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico with the Super Heavy booster, and achieving a controlled entry of Starship.”



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