All posts in “falcon”

Watch SpaceX launch NASA’s latest exoplanet-hunting satellite

SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket today during a 30 second window at 6:32pm EDT. Onboard is NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) designed to find exoplanets. SpaceX said this morning there’s an 80 percent chance of launching today. Following the launch, SpaceX will attempt to recover the Falcon 9 rocket and nose cone by landing the rocket on a drone ship and using parachutes to slow down fairings before they hit Atlantic. SpaceX’s high-speed net boat Mr. Stevens is still in the Pacific.

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The livestream is set to begin at 6:00pm EDT.

The satellite onboard uses four cameras to hunt for exoplanets around stars. They measure tiny dips in a star’s brightness that could indicate a planetary body passing in front of the camera’s line of sight. This is called a transit. Mission officials have said that this satellite will likely find thousands of worlds during its two-year mission.

The Falcon 9 used in today’s mission has never been launched before though if it lands successfully, it will be reportedly used in a future mission. This rocket is also the final block 4 version before Tesla starts using block 5 versions with upgraded engines and improvements to increase the reusability of the rocket.

Behind the scenes of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch day prep

SpaceX is launching its Falcon Heavy rocket tomorrow, and if it’s successful, it’ll be twice as powerful in terms of cargo capacity as its next closest active rival. That will help give SpaceX an edge in the growing private space race, and open up new opportunities in terms of potential clients, as well as set the stage for traveling to Mars.

The launch itself is happening on Tuesday, February 6 at 1:30 PM EST, weather permitting. The window lasts until 4 PM EST, however, so if conditions are good within that time the lunch should go off as planned. There’s a backup window on February 7, which also starts at 1:30 PM EST, and we’ll be there live to watch it happen and report back all the news right here on TechCrunch.

Blue Origin reveals the ‘New Glenn’ takeoff and landing sequence in new video


Blue Origin is working towards the first launch of its super heavy-lift rocket, the New Glenn. Bezos’s rocket company just released a video showing how the rocket will launch and land. Spoiler: It’s a lot like SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

In the video embedded below, the rocket takes off from a pad close to a company facility and lands vertically on a large barge in a similar fashion to that used by SpaceX. Though in this animated video, the landing barge appears to be built on a ship that can house a crew. SpaceX’s barge is unmanned and autonomous.

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This video is part of a media tour for the rocket. Just yesterday Bezos revealed the BE-4 engine that will provide the lift for the large rocket. Today CEO Jeff Bezos revealed the company signed a contract with France-based TV provider Eutelsat to put a satellite in geostationary orbit sometime between 2021-2022.

SpaceX and Blue Origin are nearly engaged in a new space race albeit one without dire consequences. The two American companies are racing towards similar goals of sustainable space flight through the reuse of rockets that can be landed. Blue Origin beat SpaceX with the launch and landing of the New Shepard rocket in 2015 though SpaceX managed the same with a much-larger Falcon 9 in late 2015 and several times since including a few landings on a barge ship. Now both companies are reportedly aiming for the moon. This isn’t a zero-sum game; humanity wins if both companies win.