The company also improved its launch vehicle recovery methods during the year. In July, the SpaceX crew succeeded in snatching both parts of the nose cone out of mid-air using a large net set on top of a recovery ship – a technique similar to Rocket Lab’s most recent with its electron recovery system Exhibited. Those nose cone fairies cost $ 6 million to jointly unpublish them, before they hit the ocean surface with any appreciable speed, of paramount importance.
Of course, before SpaceX could officially move on from its old cargo capsule, the company had to prove that the Dragon 2 Crew capsule variants were safe and adequate for the shuttle people for the ISS and the back. As such, SpaceX successfully demonstrated its Dragon Crew capsule launch escape system in mid-January. Moving away from the launch complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, the Falcon 9 rocket flew for only 90 seconds before a signal of abortion was activated, forcing the crew to detach from the rest of the capsule rocket. The capsule exploded at 400 mph before deploying its parachutes and landing safely across the Atlantic for recovery.
SpaceX’s next challenge came in June with the fragile launch of the DEMO-2 mission – the first time a crew capsule carried real humans. After an effort launched in 2011, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley successfully removed from launch complex 39A, the first example to launch American astronauts from American Earth since the end of the shuttle era in 2011 .
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said in a June press release, “Today a new era is beginning in manned spacecraft, when we once again orbited the Earth on American rockets from US space, orbiting our national laboratory in US space.” Launched. ” “I thank and congratulate Bob Bacon, Doug Hurley and the SpaceX and NASA teams for this important achievement for the United States. The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is an unprecedented demonstration of American excellence and it An important step on our path to expand human exploration on the Moon and Mars. “
19 hours after launch, the pair of astronauts entered the ISS and entered their temporary home the following month, until they climbed back into the Dragon Crew capsule, separated from the ISS and made a dramatic oceanic landing. Withdrawn to the surface.
SpaceX has been in business for almost two decades and has spent that time completing its launch and recovery operations, refining the design and construction of its rockets. In November, NASA formally certified the Crew Dragon, certified as a Falcon 9 and capsule – “the first commercial spacecraft system in history to carry humans from the International Space Station as part of the agency Is capable of. ” Commercial Crew Program, “according to a release.
“I am proud to say that we are launching regular manned spacecraft on American rockets and spacecraft on American Earth,” said Bridendine. “This certification milestone is an incredible achievement by NASA and SpaceX that highlights the progress of working closely with the commercial industry.”
As if it was not enough to tell SpaceX CEO Elon Musk anything about the crow, less than a week later, the CREW-1 mission with a full complement of not four, but four astronauts from Kennedy Space Center in Florida Was successfully launched. NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and JACA astronaut Soichi Noguchi arrived at the ISS on November 16 after a six-month stint at the station. Coincidentally, Victor Glover is the first black astronaut to remain in the ISS for a six-month term as he has ever lived. In the 22 years that the ISS has been orbiting the Earth, black astronauts have not been in it for more than a few days. The CREW-1 mission is only the beginning. SpaceX has plans for two more crew launches in 2021 and again in 2022.
And it’s not just NASA that SpaceX has found a home in 2020. In August, The Space Force Space and Missile Command (SMC) announced that it had selected SpaceX and rival ULA for a five-year contract for its national security space launch services. – Essentially orbiting spy satellites. The contract runs until 2024 with the first launch, with a $ 316 million price tag due in 2024. In November, Space Force gave SpaceX an additional $ 29.5 million for a one-year contract that “provides preliminary integration studies. Fleet monitoring for non-national security space missions,” according to the award announcement.
The closing years of strategic planning and effort by the Air Force, NRO and our launch service industry partners, “have a wonderful day,” Dr. Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Technology and Logistics Dr. Said William Roper. An August statement. “Sustaining a competitive launch market, serving both government and commercial customers, is how we encourage continued innovation on assured access to space. Today’s awards mark a new era of space launch that will eventually infect the department with Russian RD-80 engines. “
Additionally, SpaceX has signed on to deliver a new generation of GPS satellites into orbit as part of its SpaceForce deal. Built by Lockheed Martin, the GPS III space vehicle will have three times better accuracy and eight times better anti-jamming capabilities. What will be in orbit for 15 years – 25 percent longer than current generation satellites.
SpaceX’s search for military contracts is not limited to the US. In July, the same Falcon 9 that brought Bob Behenken and Doug Hurley to the ISS tagged the Army / Navy / Air Force Satellite Information System 2 (ANASIS-II), a safeguard for the South Korean Agency for Defense Development Was a communication satellite. Geosynchronous orbit.
On 30 August, a separate Falcon 9 carrying SAOCOM 1B, an Argentine Earth Observation satellite, was used to provide radar data to emergency responders launched from Cape Canaveral. Interestingly, the rocket took a southern route, which would take it towards Cuba instead of east, since about 1969 every other launch from that site has been headed. It is rare for polar orbit launch, such as this one, to originate from the east coast. Usually they fly out of the Vandenberg AFB in California, as such, they do not have to fly over any of the island countries that we have almost started a nuclear war. However, SpaceX managed to end a special Air Force waiver thanks to Falcon 9’s ability to automatically self-destruct, should it deviate from its intended flight path, therefore falling into its populated areas The probability of this was almost zero (plus, much of California was on fire at the time).
SpaceX has also seen significant success in its debut Starlink Orbital Broadband communications system. Starting in early January with the successful launch of 60 of the Microcellulites (which could carry the Dragon capsule), SpaceX has gone on to launch 14 more sets of them.
“With performance that transcends a global network devoid of traditional satellite Internet and ground infrastructure limitations, Starlink will deliver high-speed broadband Internet,” according to the Space website.
Of the thousand Starlinks, SpaceX aims to bring Sky into the air by the end of the year, by the end of November, the company has successfully launched over 950 of them – however, in the end, SpaceX wants to include more than 42,000 Starlinks in the world is . The launches have gone so well that SpaceX is already preparing a private beta of its upcoming internet service (just $ 99 per month to participate!), Thanks to recent regulatory approvals in Canada Will also start offering when the service officially rolls out. By 2022.
The Starlink program has not come to your mind, without controversy. Shortly after the program began, astronomers began to express concern that a fleet of reflective microsatellites could hamper the work of ground-based telescopes – in particular those numbers that Musk Envision – and possibly scientists in general Can also set progress. With hundreds of scientists and researchers signing a workshop report out of the SatCon1 conference in August, warning that “no combination of nausea can completely survive the impact of satellite trails on upcoming generation science programs is.” In response, SpaceX has begun adding solar shields to StarLink in an effort to reduce its reflectivity.
Looking ahead, SpaceX will not rely on its dragons and falcons forever. Already, the company is working to develop an integrated space launch system, which can easily carry passengers and cargo satellites, the super-heavy rocket starship. Named as the company’s “top priority”, the starship can take people to Mars, but also as a quick and reusable launch system to deploy resources faster in low Earth orbit and the Moon It works.
The beginning of the year did not bode well for the development of Starship, with another prototype SN4 that exploded on the launchpad in May. It follows a string of blow ups, collaps and other similar failures but it is Rocket science is therefore considered to be difficult. The ailing SN4, the successor of the SN5, managed to survive the explosion during its test flight in August, successfully moving it before touching it a little farther on a separate pad 150 meters from its launchpad.
Good starship SN8 static fire! Aim for the first 15 km / ~ 50k ft altitude flight next week. The goal is to test the transition of the 3 engine accents, body flaps, main to header tanks and landing flips.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2020
The starship’s biggest challenge so far – its first high-altitude test flight – could take place earlier this week. The company’s latest prototype, the SN8, was completed in September and originally slated to fly to an altitude of around 60,000 feet before returning to Earth. That roof was lowered 50,000 feet in late September due to unknown reasons and has been repeatedly delayed since testing. However at the end of November, following the successful static fire of their engines, Musk tweeted That a proper flight test is imminent.
Whatever it may be, SpaceX’s performance in 2020 has already had a lasting impact on the aerospace industry. For example, the European Union has already announced that it is moving forward with the deployment of its Galileo navigation satellites, extending the timetable to 2024, as well as investing € 1 billion for the first time. In tune – promoting reusable rocket technology and startups in industry. Combine SpaceX’s already large revenue stream, $ 2 billion by 2019, along with military, scientific and commercial efforts, and it’s hard to see how the company won’t continue its market dominance in the coming years .