SpaceX accelerates launch to increase competitiveness

SpaceX accelerates launch to increase competitiveness

Watch the online broadcast of the last SpaceX launch, scheduled for Tuesday morning. Ilon Musk hopes to pursue a tough policy, as the Blue Origin aerospace company Jeff Bezos begins to sign contracts with customers.

On Tuesday, from 1:34 am to 4:04 pm (EST), SpaceX plans to launch its latest rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center (Florida), sending a communications satellite into orbit (about 22,000 miles above Earth). This will be the second launch of the company in three weeks - an aggressive flight speed, which they must maintain in order to fulfill their promise of low-cost and reliable space transportation.

SpaceX founder Ilon Mask used the Silicon Valley approach to building and flying missiles, improving design and performance, as the company manipulates the manifesto for over 70 missions for NASA and commercial customers, worth more than $ 10 billion.

Three versions of the Falcon 9 rocket have flown since its debut in June 2010, including the current model, the Falcon Full Thrust, which can be planted back to Earth and reused. This approach was also approved by Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. But because of the high payload and high orbit, they are not going to return the rocket for reuse on Tuesday.

Watch the online launch of SpaceX on Tuesday:

According to the statement of the President of SpaceX Gwinn Shotwell, the company is working on the final version of the rocket - Block 5, and hopes to launch it before the end of the year.

Blue Origin is on a different road. Funded by Bezos, which is now ranked 5th in the Forbes magazine rankings, the company is set to improve its design and landing technology before launching commercial launch services. They decided to develop a reusable suborbital launch system - New Shepard, designed for passengers and payload before attempting an orbital space flight and landing larger rockets. Last week, the company unveiled a fully assembled version of the rocket of its newly developed BE-4 engine, which is used in the New Glenn rocket.

“New Shepard is so important to us, because this mission will allow you to make a lot of flights and get a hand,” said Bezos at the Satellite 2017 conference last week.

“If you want to restore a carrier rocket, a large rocket or an orbital one, then there are several options. You can add wings to it, like a shuttle. You can use a vertical landing, ”he added. “The reason why I like the second option is that it is so scalable ... If you balance with a broom on your arm, then you don’t spend much effort. If you balance with a pencil, the situation becomes more complicated. So, the larger the unit, the easier it is to solve the problem. ” Blue Origin's intensive approach to commercial flight has attracted many customers by dragging them from competitors. During a speech on March 7, Bezos announced that satellite operator Eutelsat had signed the first contract for a flight to New Glann, which is scheduled for 2021. The next day, the company and the OneWeb Internet satellite jointly announced an agreement for 5 flights at about the same time.

This year, the United Launch Alliance (a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin - the two largest companies in the US aerospace industry), will decide whether to buy BE-4 methane engines for their new Vulcan rockets or switch to backup, preferring Aerojet Rocketdyne technology.

SpaceX and Blue Origin also use different approaches for deep-space research. Musk, who does not hide his ambitions to send rockets and people to Mars, announced two weeks ago that SpaceX had signed a contract for the flight of two tourists around the moon at the end of 2018.

He did not report the price of the flight, but compared it with “a little more than the cost of the crew’s mission to the space station”.

“I think that such a market will allow launching one or two a year,” said Musk. - “The company's goal since its foundation in 2002 is to accelerate space research, to implement the idea of ​​creating a self-sustaining civilization on Mars and the transformation of humanity into planetary immigrants. The main thing now is to understand what it is like to settle people in another place. ” Another potential SpaceX client is NASA, who are considering the possibility of adding a crew to the lunar test flight of their new Space Launch System heavy rocket and the Orion deep space capsule. The debut launch, originally scheduled for the end of 2018, is likely to be postponed to 2019. This is enough time to add the necessary equipment for two astronauts. SpaceX mission could be an alternative.

Bezos is also considering a potential partnership with NASA for Moon exploration and business development. Blue Origin offers NASA and Donald Trump's company to transport cargo to a potential lunar base at the south pole of the moon.

Now SpaceX focuses on increasing Falcon flight speed in order to maintain the advantage in the race. They had to recover twice from accidents, which delayed the launch of satellites that generate income for customers.

SpaceX returned to flight in January. The company hopes to make another 20 Falcon flights from Florida from Vanderberg Air Base in California before the end of this year.

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