Jul 25, 2019

SpaceX rocket launches experiments, supplies to the ISS for NASA

A Falcon 9 rocket launching in December 2018. Photo: SpaceX

An uncrewed SpaceX Dragon capsule is on its way to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The Dragon is carrying thousands of pounds of supplies, experiments and hardware for NASA. Those supplies include a new docking adaptor, spacesuit parts and Nickelodeon slime.

The big picture: The rocket launched Thursday was a previously flown Falcon 9, and the Dragon it carried is on its third trip in space. The Falcon 9 came back in for a smooth landing on the ground in Florida about 10 minutes after launch.

  • The Dragon is expected to make it to the space station on Saturday.

Details: That reusability is key to SpaceX's business plan, which is aimed at reducing the cost of spaceflight through reuse.

  • This landing marks the company's 44th successful booster recovery.
  • The mission is SpaceX's 18th official cargo run to the station for NASA.
  • SpaceX is also testing a crewed version of its Dragon capsule that is expected to fly NASA astronauts to the station at some point in the next year.

Go deeper

SpaceX is betting on rocket rideshares

A Falcon 9 rocket launch in 2018. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX is offering up its Falcon 9 rockets for regular rideshares to orbit for small payloads, the company announced Monday.

Why it matters: Usually small satellites are forced to hitch rides on a Falcon 9 with a larger payload bound for orbit, but these rideshares won't need to wait on a primary mission for launch.

Go deeperArrowAug 6, 2019

The national security space race

A Falcon Heavy rocket launch in June. Photo: SpaceX

Four companies — SpaceX, Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Northrop Grumman — have submitted proposals to become 1 of 2 launch providers for the U.S. Air Force from 2022 to 2026.

Why it matters: Launching commercial and government payloads to orbit is a competitive business, and locking in billions of dollars in revenue from the Air Force would be a huge win for any of these companies.

Go deeperArrowAug 13, 2019

Texas and Alabama are fighting it out for the Artemis lunar lander

Illustration of a lander and astronauts on the moon. Photo: NASA

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Friday that the space agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama will take the lead in developing the Artemis lunar lander.

Yes, but: Lawmakers in Texas — the home of Johnson Space Center — aren't happy about it.

Go deeperArrowAug 20, 2019