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From: Eric10/5/2017 3:35:11 PM
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SpaceX Seeks Ambitious Launch Tempo Surpassing Current Rivals

Elon Musk’s company targets about two launches per month, but goal falls short of even more aggressive tempo projected earlier

The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage rocket lands after carrying the U.S. Air Force X-37B spaceplane into orbit at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on Sept. 7. Photo: Spacex/Zuma Press

Andy Pasztor

Updated Oct. 5, 2017 1:58 p.m. ET

Elon Musk’s SpaceX aims for one rocket launch roughly every two weeks on average through the end of 2018, exceeding the schedule of any other space company or government around the globe.

The heady tempo underscores Mr. Musk’s strategy of relying on reusability and other efficiencies to dominate the space-transportation market. For years, leaders of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., as the company is formally called, have held out semimonthly launches as a cherished goal.

But the latest numbers, unveiled at a space symposium last week in Australia, suggest Mr. Musk has put aside for now more ambitious goals for launching swarms of SpaceX satellites and ramping up operation of a heavy-lift rocket that has encountered delays.

According to Mr. Musk’s latest projections, SpaceX by the end of December aims to blast off seven more rockets on top of the 13 already successfully launched this year, followed by 30 more next year. “If SpaceX does do something like” that in 2018, Mr. Musk told the conference in Adelaide, it will account for “approximately half of all orbital launches that occur on Earth.”

SpaceX began 15 years ago with a handful of employees located in a warehouse district near a Southern California strip mall. Now with roughly 5,000 employees, it is hailed as a space pioneer that has transformed the launch business and landed approximately $10 billion in contracts in the process.

Despite SpaceX’s accelerating launches, the latest projections fall short of targets appearing in internal documents prepared about two years ago. The documents, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, cited 27 launches for this year and 44 for 2018.

The documents projected that SpaceX would be launching once a week by 2019.

Much of the paring of launch goals appears to stem from significant delays getting SpaceX’s planned internet-via-satellite business and Falcon Heavy booster off the ground.

A SpaceX spokesman didn’t have any comment. In the past, the company has stressed that internal documents provide a snapshot in time and that projections are routinely revised as business conditions change.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk is renowned for setting highly ambitious goals as a way to spur employees to boost their performance. Photo: mike blake/Reuters

Mr. Musk, who founded the company and serves as chairman and chief designer, is renowned for setting highly ambitious goals as a way to spur on employees.

The internal documents projected four Falcon Heavy launches for this year, including a Pentagon mission, and five in 2018. The rocket, powered by 27 engines, is four years late and is now slated to have its maiden test flight in the next three months.

The documents also envisioned more than a dozen launches through the end of 2018 dedicated to the early phase of a SpaceX satellite fleet. So far, the company hasn’t reported lofting a single prototype or demonstration payload, and it hasn’t publicly laid out manufacturing or detailed operating plans.

The internal documents projected that revenue from the nascent satellite-internet business would dwarf the company’s rocket segment in just a few years. At the time, SpaceX envisioned satellite operations garnering more than 40 million subscribers and bringing in more than $30 billion in revenue by 2025.

Last week, Mr. Musk outlined the 2017 and 2018 launch targets as part of a broader presentation of SpaceX’s revised plans to build the most powerful rocket ever and use it to launch giant, reusable spacecraft to Mars within a decade. He didn’t discuss the proposed satellite venture.

Mr. Musk said the Mars initiative is expected to draw much of its funding from SpaceX’s projected boom in commercial, scientific and military launch contracts.

“I’m very excited there is a business case” supporting SpaceX’s Mars ambitions, said Greg Autry, a University of Southern California professor who was a senior member of President Donald Trump’s transition team for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Industry officials and space experts have praised SpaceX’s accomplishments so far, including bringing down global launch prices and ending the traditional monopoly on Pentagon launches held by a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Overall, SpaceX sees frequent launches reusing boosters that already have flown in space as the key to markedly reducing its manufacturing costs, as well as evenutally saving money by relying on a much smaller contingent of ground-support personnel.

If SpaceX successfully completes the three launches scheduled over the next few weeks, its 2017 total will double its entire launch output for 2016.

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From: Eric10/8/2017 3:23:31 PM
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SpaceX Rocket to Launch 10 Satellites Early Monday: How to Watch Live

By Calla Cofield, Senior Writer | October 8, 2017 10:47am ET

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on the company's launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of the Iridium-2 mission in June 2017. A similar Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 Iridium Next communications satellites into orbit from the same pad for the Iridium-3 mission on Oct. 9, 2017.
Credit: SpaceX

The private spaceflight company SpaceX is scheduled to launch 10 communications satellites into low-Earth orbit early Monday (Oct. 9), and you can watch it live online.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to blast off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 8:37 a.m. EDT (5:37 a.m. PDT/1237 GMT), carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications. A live webcast is expected to begin shortly before the opening of the launch window, and you can watch it on SpaceX's website, or here at

The satellites are part of the Iridium Next constellation, which will eventually consist of 66 primary satellites and nine on-orbit backup satellites (as well as six backups that will remain on the ground). This is the third of eight scheduled SpaceX launches for the Iridium Next constellation, and will bring the total number of satellites in orbit to 30.

The reusable Falcon 9 booster that will be used in tomorrow's launch is making its first flight, a company representative told It completed a static-fire test on Thursday (Oct. 5). SpaceX will attempt to land the booster upright on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean following the launch so it can be used on a future mission. SpaceX has successfully landed a Falcon 9 first stage rocket 16 times and reflown two boosters this year.

A illustration of an Iridium NEXT satellite in orbit.
Credit: Iridium Communications

Iridium Communications announced earlier this week it had begun testing and validating its Iridium Certus service, which will use the Iridium Next satellites to provide a "truly global broadband service" to its users, according to a statement from the company. The 66 satellites will spread out around the planet to provide service to remote regions of the globe, the company has said.

"Iridium Certus is going to fundamentally change the status quo in satellite connectivity for aviation, maritime, land-mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and government users," said Matt Desch, Iridium's CEO, in the statement. "Achieving this major milestone continues our momentum for our mission to introduce world-changing broadband services and applications designed to help our partners provide critical connectivity solutions, both standalone and in support of other broadband technologies."

The commercial service is expected to be available in the "early second quarter" of 2018, according to the statement.

Iridium Communications announced earlier this week it had begun testing and validating its Iridium Certus service, which will use the Iridium Next satellites to provide a "truly global broadband service" to its users, according to a statement from the company. The 66 satellites will spread out around the planet to provide service to remote regions of the globe, the company has said.

"Iridium Certus is going to fundamentally change the status quo in satellite connectivity for aviation, maritime, land-mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and government users," said Matt Desch, Iridium's CEO, in the statement. "Achieving this major milestone continues our momentum for our mission to introduce world-changing broadband services and applications designed to help our partners provide critical connectivity solutions, both standalone and in support of other broadband technologies."

The commercial service is expected to be available in the "early second quarter" of 2018, according to the statement.

On Wednesday (Oct. 11), another SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch from NASA's Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying another communications satellite called SES 11/EchoStar 105.

The Falcon 9 booster for that launch, which was delayed from Oct. 7, has already made one spaceflight. On Feb. 19, the booster helped launch a Dragon cargo ship to deliver NASA supplies to the International Space Station and made a pinpoint landing on a SpaceX drone ship.

Elon Musk wrote on Instagram this week that the company would also try to land that booster again.

Follow Calla Cofield @callacofield. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

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From: Eric10/9/2017 7:16:17 AM
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Iridium-3 Mission

2,545 waiting

Scheduled for Oct 9, 2017

SpaceX is targeting launch of Iridium-3 from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window is at 5:37 a.m. PDT, or 12:37 UTC on Monday, October 9. The satellites will begin deployment about an hour after launch. A backup launch opportunity opens at 5:31 a.m. PDT, or 12:31 UTC on Tuesday, October 10. Following stage separation, the first stage of Falcon 9 will attempt a landing on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship that will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

Click on link above to watch launch live.

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From: Eric10/9/2017 8:47:33 AM
   of 275
IRIDIUM-3 in a safe parking orbit.

First stage successfully landed on Just Read The Instructions drone barge just off the coast of California!

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From: Eric10/9/2017 3:13:36 PM
1 Recommendation   of 275
SpaceX Has Successful Launch As It Ramps Up Operational Tempo

The mission for Iridium Communications is part of fast-paced launch efforts

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sept. 7. Photo: Spacex/Planet Pix/Zuma Press

Andy Pasztor

Oct. 9, 2017 10:03 a.m. ET

LOMPOC, Calif.—Space Exploration Technologies Corp. blasted 10 commercial satellites into orbit Monday, completing the first of a pair of consecutive launches slated from opposite coasts in roughly two days.

The predawn liftoff from central California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, which put the cluster of communications satellites into space for Iridium Communications Inc., IRDM +0.44% was the 14th consecutive successful launch this year for SpaceX, as entrepreneur Elon Musk’s closely held company is called.

The bright orange glow during ascent filled the night sky, and the clear weather meant the plumes of the returning first stage were clearly visible as it headed back for a pinpoint landing on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean.

More than an hour after launch, SpaceX confirmed all the satellites had been deployed in their proper orbits.

The company previously launched 20 satellites for Iridium, its single largest commercial customer, and is contracted to carry out five additional unmanned launches for the company.

Related Coverage
  • SpaceX Seeks Ambitious Launch Tempo Surpassing Current Rivals (Oct. 5)
  • SpaceX’s Mars Vision Puts Pressure on NASA’s Manned Exploration Programs (Oct. 4)

  • SpaceX plans to put up a commercial satellite for a different customer on another Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center as early as Wednesday afternoon, demonstrating its bicoastal prowess to dispatch and organize launch personnel on such a compressed timeline.

    Through the end of 2018, Mr. Musk’s management team is targeting one launch every two weeks on average, a pace exceeding any company or government schedule world-wide.

    The company pulled off a similar double-header feat over two days during the summer, with the moves signaling increasing capabilities to conduct fast-paced operations. SpaceX officials have said their long-term goal is to launch several times a day and quickly turn around reused boosters more akin to commercial aircraft than traditional rocketry.

    The Air Force recently suggested it is moving toward the ability to launch two rockets from various Florida pads on the same day. To boost its overall launch capability and avoid delays often associated with sharing Florida facilities with the Pentagon, SpaceX is building a separate pad near Brownsville, Texas. But that facility has been delayed by at least a couple of years and isn’t likely to begin operations until the end of the decade.

    Wednesday’s launch in Florida is scheduled to precede the first launch of a larger, more-powerful derivative of the Falcon 9, called the Falcon Heavy, featuring three times as many engines and a substantially greater payload capacity. The beefed-up rocket is slated to blast off from the same Florida pad before the end of the year.

    But emergence of the Falcon Heavy, roughly four years later than initially proposed, comes as the market generally is shrinking for such heavy-lift rockets tailored to handle the largest commercial payloads. Instead, commercial-fleet operators increasingly are looking to buy and launch midsize and smaller satellites designed to be more flexible and efficient, particularly serving mobile users.

    The company hasn’t indicated when the second Falcon Heavy is likely to go up. Mr. Musk has said development, which cost roughly $1 billion, turned out to be more difficult than anticipated—or “crazy hard” as he described it during a March press conference.

    Meanwhile, SpaceX and other aerospace contractors are maneuvering to determine whether the National Aeronautics and Space Administration intends to pursue possible public-private partnerships to send astronauts back to the moon. Career NASA officials are devising new strategies to respond to initiatives by private companies to explore the solar system, though the White House hasn’t proposed anything specific.

    Mr. Musk’s own plan to send humans to Mars envisions ultimately phasing out both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, replacing them with an even more powerful deep-space booster, called the BFR.

    Separately from that proposal, Mr. Musk previously disclosed plans to send an unmanned capsule to Mars, perhaps as soon as 2018, as part of his ultimate vision for a private enterprise to colonize the red planet.

    Over the years, Mr. Musk has repeatedly said his top-priority goal—more important than the economic success of his separate space and electric-car companies—is to build colonies on Mars, envisioning thousands of inhabitants served by airline-like flights to and from earth.

    SpaceX also is seeking to garner more Pentagon launches in the next few years. Last week, the Air Force released a request for industry proposals for prototypes of next-generation rockets. Planning to use some version of public-private partnerships, Pentagon brass are looking for all-domestic options able to transport military communications satellites as well as spy payloads in the next decade.

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    From: Eric10/11/2017 8:08:20 AM
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    SpaceX to Launch Satellite with Pre-Flown Rocket Tonight: Watch Live

    By Mike Wall, Senior Writer | October 11, 2017 07:41am ET

    SpaceX test-fired a Falcon 9 rocket on Oct. 2, 2017, ahead of the scheduled Oct. 11, 2017, launch of the SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite. The liftoff will be the second for this Falcon 9's first stage, which also launched in February 2017.Credit: SpaceX via Twitter

    This evening (Oct. 11), SpaceX plans to launch a satellite using a pre-flown rocket for the third time ever, and you can watch the liftoff live.

    A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite is scheduled to lift off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 6:53 p.m. ET (2053 GMT) today. You can watch it live via SpaceX's website, or here at, courtesy of SpaceX; coverage is expected to begin 15 minutes before launch.

    The first stage of this Falcon 9 has flown once before: On Feb. 19, it helped launch SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsuleon an uncrewed resupply run to the International Space Station for NASA. (That was SpaceX's first liftoff from Pad 39A, which previously hosted Apollo moon mission and space shuttle liftoffs.)

    On that day, the first stage returned for a pinpoint landing at a SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is next door to KSC. The company then inspected the booster and got it ready to fly again.

    Such activities are part of SpaceX's effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets, which could revolutionize spaceflight by slashing its cost, company CEO and founder Elon Musk has said. To date, SpaceX has landed Falcon 9 first stages on 17 separate occasions, most recently on Monday (Oct. 9) during the launch of 10 satellites for the communications company Iridium.

    SpaceX first re-flew one of these landed boosters on March 30, during the successful launch of the SES-10 communications satellite. Another pre-flown first stage helped loft the BulgariaSat-1 spacecraft on June 23.

    SpaceX aims to bring the Falcon 9 first stage back to Earth again today. If all goes according to plan, the booster will land on a robotic "drone ship" stationed in the Atlantic Ocean less than 10 minutes after liftoff.

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us

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    From: Eric10/12/2017 6:48:16 AM
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    Echostar 105/SES-11 successfully delivered into orbit yesterday afternoon.

    Here is the replay of the launch and landing of the reused booster in the Atlantic Ocean on the barge "Of Course I still Love You".

    Echostar 105 / SES-11 Launch Webcast

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    From: Eric10/14/2017 4:49:42 PM
       of 275
    Elon Musk will chat about his big rocket plans with SpaceX fans on Reddit

    by Alan Boyle on October 14, 2017 at 11:37 am

    An artist’s conception shows SpaceX’s BFR launch vehicle blasting off from a floating pad. (SpaceX via YouTube)

    Two weeks after SpaceX founder Elon Musk updated his vision for a monster rocket designed to take settlers to the moon and Mars, he’s taking questions from his fans today during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.

    Musk says the chat starts at 1 p.m. PT on Reddit’s r/Space forum.

    As a foretaste, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell provided further details about the company’s yet-to-be built BFR (“Big Falcon Rocket”) on Wednesday at a forum presented by the Stanford Student Space Initiative, with venture capital guru (and SpaceX board member) Steve Jurvetson hosting a Q&A.

    Shotwell’s talk fleshed out Musk’s plan to employ the BFR not only for sending payloads and people to Mars, but also for moon trips and point-to-point suborbital travel. Afterward, Jurvetson turned to the Reddit community to capture the high points of the conversation.

    Here are a few snippets from Shotwell to chew over in advance of Musk’s AMA:
    • The BFR would be produced at a new waterfront facility in Los Angeles, because the cost of transporting rockets from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 factory in Hawthorne, Calif., would be prohibitively high. More production sites could be built near BFR launch sites.
    • SpaceX’s yet-to-be-completed launch facility near Brownsville, Texas, would be a perfect place for launching the BFR.
    • The spaceship will be designed so that most people will be able to withstand the G-forces that arise during a suborbital point-to-point ride, but the experience will be “sportier” than an airplane trip.
    • A scaled version of the BFR’s methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine has been tested, and SpaceX is working on a larger version.
    • SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for its maiden launch from Florida in a December time frame. The schedule depends on pad availability, including a shift of Falcon 9 launches from Launch Complex 39A to the repaired Launch Complex 40.
    • SpaceX is pressing ahead with work to build a satellite constellation that could provide global internet access. Shotwell said the company can fund BFR development as well as the satellites, which are being developed at facilities in Redmond, Wash. — but it might take some creative financing.

    This report has been updated with the schedule for Musk’s Reddit AMA session.

    Love space and science?

    Sign up for our GeekWire Space & Science email newsletter for top headlines from Alan Boyle, GeekWire’s aerospace and science editor.

    GeekWire aerospace and science editor Alan Boyle is an award-winning science writer and veteran space reporter. Formerly of, he is the author of " The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference." Follow him via, on Twitter @b0yle, and on Facebook and Google+.

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    From: Eric10/17/2017 7:10:54 AM
       of 275
    SpaceX Mystery Launch: Permits Filed For Secret Payload Mission In November

    By Nina Godlewski @NinaGodlewski On 10/16/17 AT 6:15 PM

    SpaceX has a secret launch scheduled for November, filings with the Federal Communication Commission show. Applications were filed for both the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket as well as the recovery of the first stage of the rocket.

    The mystery is in the payload though. Neither of the applications say what the rocket will be launching or for what company or agency. The nickname for the mission is “Zuma,” Spaceflight Now reported.

    So far what is known from the application is that a Falcon 9 will be used to launch the payload and the first stage of it will be recovered. It will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center’s historic launch pad 39A where some of the most famous missions like the Apollo missions launched from.

    The requested for a launch period is set to start on Nov. 10 and will be open until April 10 of next year. The application is for what is called a “special temporary authority,” or an STA. The description for the launch itself says, “This STA is necessary to authorize launch vehicle communications for SpaceX Mission 1390, from Complex 39A, Kennedy Space Center. Includes sub-orbital first stage, and orbital second stage. Trajectory data will be provided directly to NTIA, USAF, and NASA. All downrange Earth stations are receive-only. Launch licensing authority is FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation.” There’s a separate application that covers the recovery of the first stage of the Falcon 9.

    SpaceX has launched military payloads before the contents of which remained secret. Just this past April the company, which has a private contract with the United States Government for launches, launched a classified craft into orbit. It’s unclear whether this upcoming launch is something similar to that one or not.

    SpaceX has had a tight schedules over the last several months to stay on track with the private launches it’s completing for private companies like iridium and EchoStar. Just last week SpaceX completed two launches within a three day period and successfully recovered the first stage of both rockets used for those launches.

    The company also has plans to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket this November. Founder and CEO Elon Musk has tweeted about the progress of the Heavy as well as the plans to go ahead with testing and an eventual unmanned launch. Not only is the company working on improving rockets used for launching satellites and resupply missions to the International Space Station, it’s working toward its eventual goal of sending humans to space and Mars. Musk revealed updated plans for the company’s mission to the Red Planet at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia in September. Those plans now include a rocket that could transport humans around Earth in mere fractions of the time is currently takes to travel.

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    From: Eric10/17/2017 7:15:43 AM
       of 275
    Safety is Elon Musk's chief concern for new SpaceX rocket

    He got into the weeds with the technical details in a Reddit AMA.

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