SpaceX

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Re:IRONY

#901 Post by PHXPhlyer » Sat Dec 02, 2023 12:42 am

Amazon taps SpaceX for satellite launch even though Jeff Bezos is right there

https://www.cnn.com/2023/12/01/business ... index.html

Amazon just inked a deal with chief competitor and Elon Musk-helmed SpaceX to launch internet-beaming satellites — a move that comes even as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos pursues his own space dreams with his own rocket company, Blue Origin, and as SpaceX builds its own internet constellation.

While Musk and Bezos have notoriously been publicly competitive and have a history of openly sparring on social media, with Musk regularly making crude jokes about Bezos and Blue Origin, it is not uncommon for business rivals to team up in the world of rocket launches. Some Amazon satellites will still ride on a large rocket made by Blue Origin, dubbed the New Glenn. But it’s been delayed for years and will make its launch debut next year at the earliest.

Amazon announced the deal in a news release Friday, saying the company has signed an agreement to launch its satellites on three SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, which are expected to begin as soon as mid-2025.

Amazon is working to build a constellation of thousands of internet satellites, called Project Kuiper, that is planned to beam connectivity across the planet. It will compete directly with SpaceX’s Starlink service, which already has more than 5,000 satellites in orbit.

Amazon is well behind its competitor. It has two prototype satellites, which were launched in October aboard a rocket built by United Launch Alliance, which is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The Jeff Bezos-founded company made headlines in April 2022 when it signed a contract worth billions of dollars to launch Kuiper satellites on 77 rockets built by Blue Origin — another Bezos-founded venture — as well as ULA and European launch provider Arianespace.

But those initial contracts also spurred a shareholder lawsuit.

Project Kuiper, Amazon's low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband initiative, is preparing to put its first two satellites into space during its "Protoflight" mission.
Amazon launches first Project Kuiper satellites with goal of creating a megaconstellation
Filed by the The Cleveland Bakers and Teamsters Pension Fund in August, the lawsuit alleges Amazon executives “consciously and intentionally breached their most basic fiduciary responsibilities” in part by forgoing the option of launching Project Kuiper satellites on rockets built by SpaceX, which the suit claims is “one of the most cost-effective launch providers.”

“The claims in this lawsuit are completely without merit, and we look forward to showing that through the legal process,” said an Amazon spokesperson at the time.

In its statement Friday, Amazon said that the earlier deal “provides enough capacity to launch the majority of our satellite constellation, and the additional launches with SpaceX offer even more capacity to support our deployment schedule.”

Regardless of who gets to launch the satellites, however, first Amazon must get the satellites to work.

In an interview last month, Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper, told CNN the prototypes were wholly successful.

“So far, everything that we’ve tested on ground, we’re getting the same results up in space,” Badyal said.

That paves the way for Amazon to begin launching more batches of operational satellites. Badyal said the company is planning to begin beta testing the service with customers as soon as late 2024.

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Re: SpaceX

#902 Post by Boac » Mon Dec 04, 2023 3:56 pm

I had hoped to see some sign of movement (of anything) to the launch pad for static fire tests etc., but no road closures notified yet.

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Re: SpaceX

#903 Post by Boac » Thu Dec 07, 2023 12:32 pm

Road closures for the coming days, so something will be on the move.

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Re: SpaceX

#904 Post by PHXPhlyer » Fri Dec 08, 2023 2:43 am

SpaceX prepares for Falcon Heavy launch of DoD spaceplane this weekend

https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/space ... spaceplane#

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - SpaceX plans to launch the X-37B spaceplane from Florida for the U.S. military on Sunday, carrying some classified experimental missions to orbit.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle on Sunday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station during an undisclosed launch window. It will be the first time the Boeing-built spaceplane flies with SpaceX.

The launch was initially planned for Thursday but was pushed to Sunday due to launch delays and pad availability, according to the U.S. Space Force.

The spaceplane is an orbital test platform for different test and experimentation missions, some of which are classified. Since its first launch in 2010, X-37B has spent 3,774 days in space through six missions. This seventh mission, known as OTV-7 and designated USSF-52, will fly unclassified and classified experiments.

A NASA experiment called Seeds-2 will expose plant seeds to radiation during a long-duration spaceflight. A previous version of the experiment flew on X-37B's last mission for more than 900 days.

Without the exact launch window or a public forecast from the Space Force 45th Weather Squadron, the FOX Forecast Center said there is a 50% chance for favorable weather throughout Sunday.

With afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast on Sunday, a morning launch window would be the best chance for SpaceX to launch the Falcon Heavy and X-37B spaceplane.

Launch forecast for Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. (FOX Weather)
If the launch goes later in the day, the launch probability chances will drop with rain and possible lightning around Cape Canaveral in the afternoon. This will mark the fifth SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch in 2023.

When the launch does happen, people in Florida will know. The Falcon Heavy is the world's second most powerful operational rocket after NASA's Artemis Moon rocket, the Space Launch System.

The Falcon Heavy produces over 5 million pounds of thrust with three Falcon boosters and 27 Merlin engines. The two side boosters return to land at Cape Canaveral and create sonic booms that reverberate beyond Florida's Space Coast.

It is also confidential when the spaceplane returns to Earth.

X-37B has set new records for time in orbit with each flight. Its last mission ended in November 2022 after more than 900 days in orbit on a mission for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force.

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Re: SpaceX

#905 Post by PHXPhlyer » Sat Dec 09, 2023 11:57 pm

The secretive X-37B space plane is headed back into orbit with a boost from SpaceX
It will ride on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy booster, allowing the vehicle to operate in “new orbital regimes,” Space Force officials said in a statement.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/s ... rcna126147

The United States military is preparing to launch its secretive X-37B space plane on a seventh mission in orbit.

The uncrewed vehicle, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is slated to lift off Sunday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a 10-minute launch window that opens at 8:14 p.m. ET. For the first time, the X-37B will ride into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Since its debut more than a decade ago, the X-37B has been a source of intrigue within the space community, mostly owing to the mysterious nature of its activities in low Earth orbit. Despite not knowing its true purpose or location, skywatchers have occasionally spotted and photographed the space plane in the night sky using telescopes.

The U.S. Space Force typically does not disclose the classified aspects of X-37B missions. As such, little is known about the types of activities the robotic vehicle carries out in orbit.

For this upcoming flight, dubbed OTV-7, the X-37B will conduct various tests, including “experimenting with space domain awareness technologies and investigating the radiation effects to NASA materials,” according to the Space Force.

On the X-37B’s last mission, which spanned 908 days in orbit, the space plane lifted off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Before that, the vehicle rode to space five times on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rockets. The Falcon Heavy booster is significantly more powerful than both, allowing the X-37B to operate in “new orbital regimes,” Space Force officials said in a statement.

It’s not known how long the X-37B will remain in space, or where and at what altitude it will ultimately orbit.

The military is tight-lipped about such operations, but the Space Force said the X-37B missions “are key to ensuring safe and responsible operations in space for all users of the space domain.”

“This seventh flight of the X-37B continues to demonstrate the innovative spirit of the United States Space Force,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a statement.

The mini space plane was built by Boeing and measures about 29 feet long. Like NASA’s space shuttles, the X-37B is designed to return to Earth and land on a runway.

The vehicle launched on its first mission in 2010 and has since logged 3,774 days in orbit over six flights.

On previous outings, Space Force officials said the X-37B’s civilian science experiments included tests of technology to harness solar energy and transmit power to the ground, as well as experiments on how organic materials fare when exposed to the environment of space for long periods of time.

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Re: SpaceX

#906 Post by Fox3WheresMyBanana » Sun Dec 10, 2023 1:01 am

Well, the need is for a space fighter to take out opposition hunter-killer satellites, and also destroy enemy satellites itself.
North Korea's would be a fine example, especially if it is an EMP nuke carrier and not a genuine satellite.*
Obviously, the mission is critically dependent on fuel capacity, which in turn depends on the launch rocket energy.

* If I was Yung Fat Wun, I'd send up real satellites until the technology was proven, then launch EMP nukes in subsequent SVs

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Re: SpaceX

#907 Post by PHXPhlyer » Sun Dec 10, 2023 4:46 pm

U.S. military space plane launch atop SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket delayed to Monday
Since its debut more than a decade ago, the X-37B has been a source of intrigue within the space community.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/us ... rcna128923

Dec 10 — The U.S. military’s secretive X-37B spaceplane which was poised for launch on Sunday on the robot craft’s seventh mission to orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket has been delayed to Monday, SpaceX said on Sunday.

“SpaceX is targeting Monday, December 11 at 8:14 p.m. ET for Falcon Heavy’s launch of the USSF-52 mission to orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida,” the rocket manufacturing company said in a statement.

Since its debut more than a decade ago, the X-37B has been a source of intrigue within the space community, mostly owing to the mysterious nature of its activities in low Earth orbit. Despite not knowing its true purpose or location, skywatchers have occasionally spotted and photographed the space plane in the night sky using telescopes.

The U.S. Space Force typically does not disclose the classified aspects of X-37B missions. As such, little is known about the types of activities the robotic vehicle carries out in orbit.

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Re: SpaceX

#908 Post by PHXPhlyer » Tue Dec 12, 2023 3:09 am

SpaceX delays launch of mysterious X-37B space plane for US military

https://www.cnn.com/2023/12/11/world/sp ... index.html

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle sits on the runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base on December 3, 2010, during post-landing operations.

SpaceX has postponed the next launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket until at least Tuesday evening, delaying the latest mission of a mysterious space plane that remains one of the US military’s most fascinating projects as the country races to journey deeper into the cosmos.

The secretive X-37B robotic spacecraft was set to take off aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at 8:14 p.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday. But the company said Monday evening that it was pushing back the launch “due to a ground side issue” — indicating a problem with the rocket’s launchpad or fueling systems, according to a social media post from SpaceX.

The company said it is now working toward lifting off at the next available launch opportunity, which is Tuesday at 8:14 pm ET.

Resembling a miniature NASA space shuttle with the windows blacked out, the reusable X-37B space plane is set to begin its seventh experimental mission.

Many of the X-37B’s mysterious tasks have been classified, but the US Space Force did provide a few details about the goals for this uncrewed mission.

What X-37B is doing
The space plane makes it possible for the United States to carry out experiments to better understand how to improve ongoing and upcoming space operations and push the boundaries of what’s possible, according to a statement by Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations for the US Space Force.

Among the research on board will be a NASA experiment that aims to find ways to sustain astronauts on future deep-space missions. Called Seeds-2, it will “expose plant seeds to the harsh radiation environment of long-duration spaceflight” and build on previous research carried out on X-37B missions.

The experiments also “include operating the reusable spaceplane in new orbital regimes, experimenting with future space domain awareness technologies, and investigating the radiation effects on materials provided by NASA,” according to the US Space Force.

Orbital regimes are areas of space where different celestial bodies have the biggest gravitational influence. If Earth’s gravity is dominant, for example, it’s called the “geocentric regime.” And our entire solar system is part of the “solar regime,” where the sun is the biggest gravitational source, the US Space Force “Spacepower” publication explains.

By “new orbital regimes,” the military likely is referring to the fact that the X-37B can be placed much deeper into space than previous missions — perhaps even to the “cislunar regime,” which is defined as the gravitational system that includes Earth and the moon.

A powerful ride

The launch will mark the first time that the space plane has hitched a ride on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy, which was briefly the most powerful operational rocket in the world after its debut in 2018.

The rocket looks like three of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, with the two boosters on each side providing additional thrust and power.

Previously, the X-37B has launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle and the Atlas V rocket built by United Launch Alliance, a Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture.

The Falcon Heavy produces more thrust than both of those rockets combined.

Space technology innovations
It’s not clear how long the spacecraft will spend orbiting Earth for this stint, though historically each X-37B flight has been increasingly longer than the last.

The last trip to orbit for the autonomous X-37B concluded in November 2022, after the spacecraft logged nearly 909 days in space. During that sixth mission, as previously reported by CNN, the space plane carried experimental technology designed by the US Navy to convert solar energy and transmit it back to the ground, according to the military.

“Sophisticated and uncrewed, the X-37B advances reusable spaceplane technologies and operates experiments in space that are returned for further examination on earth,” said Barbara Barrett, secretary of the US Air Force in a statement at the time.

The X-37B has already spent more than 3,700 days in space on prior uncrewed missions.

I think I'm beginning to detect a pattern.

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Re: SpaceX

#909 Post by PHXPhlyer » Wed Dec 13, 2023 3:18 am

SpaceX scrubs Falcon Heavy's X-37B space plane launch due to ground issue
The next opportunity will come on Wednesday (Dec. 13).

https://www.space.com/spacex-falcon-hea ... unch-scrub

We'll have to wait until Wednesday (Dec. 13) to see SpaceX's powerful Falcon Heavy rocket take to the skies again.

The brawny Falcon Heavy had been scheduled to launch the U.S. Space Force's robotic X-37B space plane from Florida on Monday night (Dec. 11), a liftoff known as USSF-52. But about 30 minutes before the planned 8:24 p.m. EST (0124 GMT) liftoff time, SpaceX announced a scrub.

"Standing down from tonight's Falcon Heavy launch due to a ground side issue; vehicle and payload remain healthy. Team is resetting for the next launch opportunity of the USSF-52 mission, which is no earlier than tomorrow night," SpaceX wrote via X (formerly known as Twitter).

When USSF-52 lifts off, you can watch it here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX. The new launch target is 8:13 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 13 (0113 GMT Thursday, Dec. 14).

USSF-52 will be the seventh launch for the reusable, 29-foot-long (8.8 meters) X-37B, which military officials say is primarily a testbed for new instruments and other technologies. Most payloads and other details about X-37B missions are classified.

The first five X-37B missions launched atop United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets. The most recent one, which landed in November 2022 after 908 days in orbit, lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9.

USSF-52 will be the first X-37B mission to ride atop a Falcon Heavy, which can take the space plane higher than it has ever gone before. And that may indeed happen; the goals of the coming mission "include operating in new orbital regimes, experimenting with space domain awareness technologies and investigating the radiation effects to NASA materials," Space Force officials wrote in a release last month.

That NASA radiation experiment will expose plant seeds to the harsh environment of space, the release added.

The Falcon Heavy debuted in February 2018, on a highly anticipated test flight that sent SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster into orbit around the sun.

The heavy lifter has flown eight times to date, including four times this year already. The rocket last flew in October of this year, when it launched NASA's Psyche asteroid probe.

The X-37B Falcon Heavy launch was originally supposed to happen on Sunday (Dec. 10), but SpaceX pushed the liftoff back a day due to weather concerns.

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Re: SpaceX

#910 Post by Boac » Thu Dec 14, 2023 4:36 pm

Well, they have just put the toy back in the toy shop, so who knows?

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Re: SpaceX

#911 Post by Boac » Fri Dec 15, 2023 1:01 pm

SS28 has now arrived at the launch site, just visible on the LabPadre composite view. B10 remains in the 'Rocket Garden'.

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Re: SpaceX

#912 Post by Boac » Tue Dec 19, 2023 2:12 pm

B10 now on the launch tower.

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Re: SpaceX

#913 Post by Boac » Thu Dec 21, 2023 10:26 am

SS28 has completed a six-engine static fire test.

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Re: SpaceX

#914 Post by PHXPhlyer » Thu Dec 28, 2023 5:17 pm

Watch SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket launch a secretive X-37B military space plane  today after delays
News
By Josh Dinner last updated about 3 hours ago
It's unclear what the plane will do when it reaches space.

https://www.space.com/spacex-space-forc ... SmartBrief

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is poised to launch the X-37B space plane for the U.S. Space Force today (Dec. 28) after several delays, and you can likely watch the action live.

Liftoff of the Falcon Heavy is scheduled to occur from Launch Complex-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, during a window that opens at 8:07 p.m. EST (0107 GMT Dec. 28). If, as expected, SpaceX webcasts the liftoff, you can watch it live here at Space.com.

SpaceX announced an initial delay of the flight by 24 hours early Sunday (Dec. 10). Then SpaceX scrubbed the planned Monday (Dec. 11) launch of the X-37B space plane due to a ground issue for at least 24 hours. A new launch date was announced on Tuesday (Dec. 12), targeting Wednesday (Dec. 13), but the launch was delayed again due to "ground system checks", as SpaceX officials posted on X (formerly Twitter). The company then targeted Dec. 28 for the next launch opportunity.

Related: The Space Force's secretive X-37B space plane: 10 surprising facts

The X-37B is a spaceplane that has launched several classified long-duration missions in space, but it is unclear why it is launching on the more massive Falcon Heavy as opposed to the workhorse Falcon 9 that SpaceX has launched it on before.

A triple core black and white rocket with used boosters on launch pad with clouds in background

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying a U.S. Space Force X-37B space plane stands atop Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida ahead of a Dec. 11, 2023 launch. (Image credit: SpaceX)
The upgrade in launch vehicle may have to do with mass. The X-37B features a cargo bay to house equipment and experiments, and it could be carrying a secondary mission payload that requires Falcon Heavy's added lift capability.

The uncertainty here is not surprising; most details of X-37B missions are classified. However, USSF-52 does carry at lease one unclassified experiment: NASA's "Seeds-2" project, which will test the effects of radiation and long-duration spaceflight on plant seeds.

Each successive X-37B mission has been longer than its predecessors, with its most recent orbital jaunt lasting 908 days. That mission, called OTV-6, landed in November 2022.

When Falcon Heavy launches on Sunday, it will be the rocket's ninth mission to date. It will also be the fifth flight for the side boosters supporting this particular mission; the duo most recently launched NASA's Psyche probe, in October of this year.

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Re: SpaceX

#915 Post by PHXPhlyer » Fri Dec 29, 2023 1:33 am

Another successful launch of Falcon 9 Heavy with the X-37B.
Both Falcon 9 side boosters landed back successfully as well; the 257th and 258th to do so. :-o :YMAPPLAUSE:

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Re: SpaceX

#916 Post by Boac » Sat Dec 30, 2023 10:20 am

Booster10 static fire complete. Must be getting close.

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Re: SpaceX

#917 Post by Boac » Mon Jan 01, 2024 5:17 pm

Talk about tireless! B12 and SS30 at Massey's for testing.

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Re: SpaceX

#918 Post by Boac » Wed Jan 03, 2024 3:45 pm

B10 has now gone back to the garage.

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Re: SpaceX

#919 Post by PHXPhlyer » Wed Jan 17, 2024 4:38 am

Meet the 4 astronauts of SpaceX's Ax-3 launch for Axiom Space
The mission will carry Axiom's first all-European crew.


https://www.space.com/axiom-space-ax-3- ... SmartBrief

Houston-based Axiom Space is poised for the company's third private astronaut launch to space. Ax-3 will carry a four-person, all-European crew on a roughly two-week mission to conduct research aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The quartet includes Ax-3 mission commander and former NASA astronaut Michael "LA" López-Alegría, mission specialist Walter Villadei, who also flew aboard Virgin Galactic's Galactic 01 suborbital spaceflight as VIRTUTE 1 mission commander last summer, Turkey's soon-to-be first astronaut, Alper Gezeravcı and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut reserve member Marcus Wandt.

The Ax-3 crew will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the early evening, Wednesday, Jan. 17, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), in Florida. After about 36 hours aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, the crew will dock with the ISS early Friday morning, Jan. 19, if all goes according to plan.

The Ax-3 crew is scheduled to spend 14 days aboard the ISS, following their arrival on Friday, Jan. 19. Barring any weather delays, like the ones that prolonged the return of Ax-1, the four-person crew is scheduled to return after two weeks' time aboard their Crew Dragon capsule, parachuting back to Earth for a splashdown off the coast of Florida.

MICHAEL LÓPEZ-ALEGRÍA


Michael López-Alegría's Axiom Space portrait. (Image credit: Axiom Space)
Former NASA astronaut Michael "L.A." López-Alegría is no stranger to spaceflight. Ax-3 will be his sixth launch to the ISS, and he has no plans of quitting anytime soon. "It's a dream come true for me," L.A. told reporters during a Jan. 11 crew teleconference, "I will gladly continue to fly as long as the soul is willing, and as long as the body is willing to do so."

L.A. was born in Madrid, and came to the U.S. with his parents as a young child. Combined, he has more than 40 years of aviation and spaceflight experience, which includes three Space Shuttle launches and a Soyuz launch. He was inducted into NASA's Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2020, and currently holds the space agency's record for cumulative time spent on space walks, or extravehicular activities (EVAs). L.A. now works as Axiom's chief astronaut.

López-Alegría flew as mission commander for Ax-1, and is proud to be reprising that role for Ax-3, he said during Thursday's call.

"I'm very proud and pleased to be leading this mission to the International Space Station, which is important not just for the scientific research and technology demonstrations and outreach events that we'll do, but also it's a very important step toward the goal of Axiom space to have a commercial space station in orbit before the decade is out."

Axiom Space is constructing its own habitation module to berth to the ISS, which it plans to build out and eventually detach to become its own private space station. Throughout development, crews from each of the company's commercially-funded missions to the ISS work, in part, toward helping Axiom reach that goal.

WALTER VILLADEI

This also isn't the first spaceflight for Ax-3 mission pilot Col. Walter Villadei. Villadei hails from Rome, Italy, and serves as a colonel in the Italian Air Force (ItAF). His background includes extensive military flight experience with the ItAF, as well as assignments in the space sector, which sent him to Star City, Russia, to with the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) as a Soyuz flight engineer.

Currently, Villadei works as the head of ItAF's representative office in the U.S., overseeing commercial spaceflight initiatives.

He flew on a sub-orbital flight to space with Virgin Galactic in June 2023, where he served as VIRTUTE-1 mission commander. At the time, he said that flight would help prepare him for upcoming, longer spaceflights.

"This mission is very important for Italy," Villadei said during the Jan. 11 briefing, calling Ax-3 a "fundamental step" in Italy's national space strategy. "It's a big opportunity for bringing industries of the scientific community and institutions into this new chapter for space exploration."

ALPER GEZERAVCI

Alper Gezeravcı will fly as Turkey's first astronaut. The Ax-3 mission specialist holds degrees from the Air Force Academy in Istanbul, and the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Ohio, and has 15 years experience flying as a fighter pilot for the Turkish Air Force.

On Thursday's call, Gezeravcı acknowledged the significance of his country sending someone to space, but said he doesn't want that fact to overshadow the mission's contribution to the global scientific community.

"I'm representing my beautiful country, Turkey, as the first person to go to space," Gezeravcı said, "however, this mission is not only focused on the first manned mission, but it's also representing a lot of scientific missions that we are intending to contribute in the science world."

Like Axiom's previous missions, much of the research conducted by the Ax-3 crew will focus on the effects of long-term spaceflight and the effects of microgravity on the human body, with an emphasis on how that research can have beneficial applications down on Earth. Turkey's Vokalkord experiment, for example, is developing artificial intelligence to detect disease through analyzing audio of people speaking and coughing.

MARCUS WANDT

Another fighter pilot, Marcus Wandt has more than 20 years experience in the air, serving in the Swedish Air Force. From fighter pilot, Wandt worked his way up to the role of chief test pilot, and eventually founded his own company to give tactical training to other pilots.

Now, Wandt is a lieutenant colonel in the Swedish Air Force and a member of ESA's astronaut reserve, and will be the second person from Sweden to fly to the ISS. For Ax-3, he will serve as a mission specialist.

"The decisiveness of how Sweden came together with ESA and Axiom, and all the support from NASA and SpaceX to make this happen is fantastic," Wandt said during the Ax-3 crew teleconference.

"I'm so proud to be in the center of that, and being a part of pioneering a new way for Europe to gain access to space and to increase the frequency ... of not only European presence but also European science, and the benefit for what we can do here on Earth that brings everyone forward."

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Re: SpaceX

#920 Post by PHXPhlyer » Thu Jan 18, 2024 10:55 pm

SpaceX launches first Turkish astronaut aboard private European space mission

https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/18/world/ax ... index.html

A SpaceX rocket took off for the International Space Station on another trailblazing mission operated entirely by the private sector. On board is a group of European astronauts, including the first person from Turkey to visit outer space.

The mission is the latest in a series of endeavors from the private sector — bolstered by NASA — that aim to churn up a business activity in Earth’s orbit. The United States has for years aimed to increase commercial activity in space as NASA looks ahead to retiring the International Space Station and allowing private space stations to take over so the space agency can focus on missions deeper into the solar system, such as to the moon and Mars.

artemis ii crew
NASA’s most high-risk endeavor in decades and other boundary-pushing space missions planned for 2024
Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was slated for Wednesday, but the company was forced to delay the mission as it worked to complete final checks before launch. Benji Reed, Space X’s senior director of human spaceflight programs, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday that teams had to work through the weekend to address issues with parachutes on the Crew Dragon capsule, which sits atop the Falcon 9 during launch.

The rocket ultimately took off Thursday at 4:49 p.m. ET Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After reaching space, the Crew Dragon capsule broke away from the Falcon 9 rocket and began navigating on its own, making a slow approach to the space station. The Crew Dragon is expected to dock at the orbiting outpost early Saturday morning.

The four-person crew on board Axiom-3, as this mission is called, includes Alper Gezeravcı — pronounced “Geh-zeh-rahv-juh” — a fighter pilot with the Turkish air force who is on track to mark a historic milestone as the first citizen of Turkey to reach low-Earth orbit.

Also on board is Walter Villadei, a member of the Italian air force, and Marcus Wandt, who was selected as a member of the European Space Agency’s astronaut reserve in 2022.

Leading the journey is Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut who now serves as a mission commander for Axiom Space, the Houston-based company that organized this trip with SpaceX and NASA.

Private vs. government astronauts
Axiom’s missions are designed to offer flights to the International Space Station to whomever can afford a ticket. The two previous Axiom missions — flown in 2022 and 2023 — have carried a mix of wealthy businesspeople and astronauts whose governments paid for their seats.

Thursday’s flight is the first Axiom mission in which a government or space agency has purchased all the seats. What’s more, each customer hails from a background as a military pilot, an occupation in which many astronauts have gotten their start.
The European Space Agency and the Swedish National Space Agency arranged Wandt’s ticket. The Italian air force paid for Villadei’s, and the Turkish government covered Gezeravcı’s fare.

“I’d like to underline how remarkably well-prepared they are based on their backgrounds as military aviators with many, many years of operational experience,” López-Alegría said during a December news conference. “Very similar to some of the crews that I was able to train with when I was a NASA astronaut.”

The flights operated by Axiom and SpaceX offer an alternative route to space for private citizens and astronauts from nations that are not a part of the routine crew rotation on board the International Space Station, where the staff is swapped out roughly every six months. NASA has a separate deal — worth roughly $5 billion — with SpaceX for the flights that support those crew changes, and the space agency hand selects which astronauts fly.

In contrast, Axiom organizes flights to the space station that last only a couple of weeks. Any private citizen or country can sign up, and seats have sold for $55 million each. (An Axiom executive declined to comment on pricing for this mission.)

While ESA does have deals with NASA to fly European astronauts as part of the normal space station crew rotation, this mission gave ESA a chance to grab an extra seat and add some of its research to this brief flight.

“This is also for the European Space Agency a first step to see how we can move to the post-ISS era,” noted Frank De Winne, the head of ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. “The ISS will come to an end at some point.”

The business model mapped out by Axiom — founded by CEO Michael Suffredini, a former ISS program manager at NASA — aligns with the US space agency’s current ethos for space exploration, which includes pushing private industry to invest in space travel and eventually develop a commercial space station that can replace the aging International Space Station. The latter has already operated for more than two decades and could be decommissioned as soon as 2030.

Axiom is one of several companies that has plans eventually to build its own private space station.

Research in space
The Axiom-3 crew is expected to spend 14 days on the space station, working alongside the seven astronauts already on board the orbiting laboratory.

The group will have “a full docket of research, over 30 experiments,” Axiom President Matt Ondler said during a December news briefing about the mission. “The crew will be continually working on experiments and research programs. In fact, we had more research than we could fit into the mission, which I think is a great example of how much demand there is.”

The science includes work that will research how astronauts might predict if they are at risk for motion sickness in space, studying lightning on the tops of clouds, tests on proteins linked to neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and an experiment that will explore how gene-edited plants respond in microgravity.

PP

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