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SpaceX’s predawn Starlink satellite launch looks simply stunning in these Twitter photos – Space.com

When SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket into space Saturday (June 13), it delivered 58 Starlink satellites and three Planet SkySats into orbit. The mission was a success. It also looked amazing. 

That’s because SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket at 5:21 a.m. EDT (0921 GMT), just over an hour before sunrise, from Space Launch Complex 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. As the rocket climbed into the predawn sky, its exhaust plume was illuminated by sunlight, creating a dazzling view.

Some observers even reported seeing the Falcon 9 rocket’s reentry maneuver as it touched down on SpaceX’s drone ship Of Course I Still Love You about 350 miles (600 kilometers) away in the Atlantic Ocean. You can see some of those amazing launch views from the photographers and spectators who shared the sight on Twitter below. 

Related: SpaceX’s Starlink satellite megaconstellation launches in photos

SpaceX's predawn launch of its Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Starlink and Planet SkySat satellites created a dazzling spectacle in the predawn sky after lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 13, 2src2src.

(Image credit: Amy Thompson)

Space.com contributor Amy Thompson captured this view of the launch from a viewing site near the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station just after the Falcon 9’s liftoff. She described the sight as as a “nebula hanging in the sky” after the Falcon 9 headed to orbit.

Noctilucent cloud from @SpaceX launch this morning seen across Florida at Ft Myers. @SPACEdotcom @tariqjmalik #spacex #nasa #florida pic.twitter.com/PDHcVc6VWLJune 13, 2020

WOAH! A #SpaceX #Starlink launch into astronomical twilight is the absolute BEST WAY to start your day. I’m fairly certain all of my neighbors were wondering why there was a crazy lady outside screaming at 5am.Uhhh #LookUpSpaceX #Falcon9 & 2nd stage MVAC from 140mi downrange! pic.twitter.com/P1ryWiVjZDJune 13, 2020

What a sight to see this morning! So glad I was awake for this! #SpaceX pic.twitter.com/D8a8xItGCVJune 13, 2020

F9/Starlink: A streak shot and an interesting iPhone shot of this morning’s launch pic.twitter.com/xbhvDPzKzeJune 13, 2020

Lifting off 63 minutes before sunrise and putting on another beautiful show as it hits sunlight downrange, a Falcon 9 takes another 58 Starlink and three Planet earth-imaging satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral early Saturday morning. pic.twitter.com/YvBDCrLqaHJune 13, 2020

#SpaceX falcon9 launch more #starlink satellites this morning at 5:21AM. Beautiful launch. pic.twitter.com/TPXNpfd5xTJune 13, 2020

Gorgeous Fisheye Streak shot to orbit short while ago of #SpaceX #Falcon9 launch of 9th batch #Starlink internet comsats (58) and 3 @planetlabs #Skysats 521 AM ET Jun 13 – arcing over to horizon while darting in and out of clouds pic.twitter.com/fWTWGmcKI7June 13, 2020

And the entry burn of Falcon 9 B1059.3 was seen from the Cape! Check out @ChrisG_NSF view on the NSF livestream:https://t.co/Cy14NLgudX pic.twitter.com/3crlPY0XxGJune 13, 2020

A luminous sight over Cape Canaveral as #SpaceX successfully launches 58 Starlink satellites and three of @planetlabs’s SkySats to orbit on a reusable Falcon 9 rocket📷: @johnkrausphotos for Supercluster pic.twitter.com/jLpssRhXcHJune 13, 2020

SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket booster after the successful Starlink launch. You can see that video below as provided by SpaceX.

And now, back to the amazing spectator photos!

Beautiful ⁦@SpaceX⁩ dawn.⁩ #Starlink pic.twitter.com/d7a3x75XwHJune 13, 2020

These photos were taken from my phone. The first 2 pictures show the second stage burn and the first stage reentry burn. #spacex #starlink @SpaceX pic.twitter.com/MUOwV8ZWZMJune 13, 2020

Oh my goodness, check out Julia Bergeron’s (@julia_bergeron) Falcon 9 B1059.3/Starlink launch photo for NSF! 😲 pic.twitter.com/iEN5SfIK6RJune 13, 2020

#SpaceX Early morning launch with cloudy skies, spectacular. pic.twitter.com/jGva8mgdh9June 13, 2020

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch on Saturday was the ninth mission to launch dozens of Starlink internet satellites at one time as the company builds a megaconstellation in orbit. The satellites are designed to provide high-speed internet access anywhere on Earth, particularly in remote and under served locations. 

The Falcon 9 launch was the second of three commercial launches on Saturday. 

About four hours earlier, a Rocket Lab Electron booster launched five small satellites into orbit from a pad on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. Then, nearly 11 hours later, the Japanese start-up Interstellar Technologies attempted to launch its Momo-F5 sounding rocket from Taiki Town, Hokkaido, but that mission failed to reach suborbital space.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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Photos: SpaceX’s first crewed mission launches from pad 39A – Spaceflight Now

June 10, 2020
Stephen Clark


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This collection of images from NASA and SpaceX photographers shows the Crew Dragon spacecraft lifting off on top of a Falcon 9 rocket May 30.

Taking advantage of a break in the weather, the 215-foot-tall (65-meter) Falcon 9 rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center at 3:22:45 p.m. EDT (1922:45 GMT) on May 30. Around 12 minutes later, the Falcon 9’s upper stage deployed the Crew Dragon spaceship into orbit.

The launch marked the first time astronauts have flown into orbit from a U.S. spaceport since the last launch of NASA’s space shuttle program July 8, 2011.

These photos show the Falcon 9 launching atop nine Merlin 1D engines, each consuming kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants, producing a combined 1.7 million pounds of thrust. The final photo in the series shows the Falcon 9’s first stage booster landing on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean for potential reuse on a future mission.

Credit: SpaceX
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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Why does SpaceX’s historic astronaut flight for NASA have two commanders? – Space.com

SpaceX’s historic crewed mission to space has … two commanders?

Over the weekend, veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made history as they launched into space on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule as part of the company’s Demo-2 test flight, the first crewed flight to orbit to launch from the U.S.  since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011. The Demo-2 mission launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday (May 30) and reached the International Space Station 19 hours later with a smooth docking.

But, while most human spaceflight missions have one commander, Demo-2 has two. For this mission, Hurley serves as the Crew Dragon’s spacecraft commander and Behnken as joint operations commander. 

Related: SpaceX’s historic Demo-2 astronaut mission: Full coverage

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (at left) and Doug Hurley wear SpaceX spacesuits embroidered with and stand before NASA's

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (at left) and Doug Hurley, the crew of SpaceX’s Demo-2 test flight on a Crew Dragon, wear pose for a photo atop the fixed service structure at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. They launched on May 30, 2020. (Image credit: SpaceX)

In his role as joint operations commander, Behnken’s specific responsibilities include reaching and docking with the space station. Hurley, on the other hand, is responsible for the Crew Dragon capsule, now officially named Endeavour, launch, landing and recovery. 

The astronauts also share a number of responsibilities and will work together with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, helping out with now that Behnken and Hurley have joined Cassidy aboard the space station. They may even take part in some spacewalks outside the station to upgrade its solar array batteries among other maintenance work.

The astronauts will spend anywhere from approximately one to four months aboard the space station working with and helping out Cassidy. The purpose of this mission was to demonstrate the capabilities of the Crew Dragon capsule  — to make sure it can safely ferry human passengers to (and from) the space station. 

With the success of this mission, SpaceX aims to launch Crew-1, the first operational astronaut flight for NASA later this year. Currently, NASA hopes to launch Crew-1 Aug. 30, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has said. 

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Why SpaceX’s historic manned space flight isn’t really that historic – Salon

Seventeen minutes before a crewed SpaceX rocket known as Falcon 9 was supposed to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida yesterday, the flight’s weather officer decided to “scrub” the big event. According to the Washington Post, Tropical Storm Bertha had compromised their ability to safely carry out the mission, meaning everything was postponed until the weekend.

The media and space enthusiasts had been hyping the launch for weeks; CNN, Politico and numerous other outlets deemed it a “historic” moment — because, as CNN wrote, the launch of the Falcon 9 carrying astronauts in a crewed module would mark “the first time in the space agency’s history” that NASA “handed over much of the design, development and testing of new human-rated spacecraft to the private sector.” 

For fans of NASA, space, or entrepreneur Elon Musk — who founded the American aerospace manufacturer and space transport company SpaceX — the delay marked a profound disappointment. Yet for those with a sense of the history of space travel, the upcoming launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon was merely a minor note in an ongoing development — the privatization of space — that has dubious value at best to humanity. Certainly it is not likely to be remembered as a major event in the history of human space travel. That’s because NASA’s reliance on private contractors has changed little in its half-century history, aside from a few minor administrative details exemplified by this week’s launch. 

Privatization of space exploration and travel has been a long-term bipartisan goal of the US federal government. Indeed, private companies first entered the realm of space exploration in the 1960s, when they participated in the manufacturing of communications satellites, but it wasn’t until Congress passed a law in 1984 allowing private companies to engage in their own launches that corporate space launches became plausible.

A giant leap toward the privatization of space launches took place in 2010, when President Barack Obama ordered NASA to create a program providing grants to private companies that would allow them to develop spacecraft which could transport astronauts to or from the space station. This roughly coincided with the impending retirement of the space shuttle, with NASA announcing in 2006 that it would soon need private businesses to help it transport people and cargo to and from the International Space Station in anticipation of losing its ability to perform these basic tasks on its own.

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Part of the impetus behind privatizing space launches is that, from a strictly fiscal standpoint, many critics thought it was unfeasible to have the government bankroll America’s endeavors beyond our own planet. During the Cold War, of course, the United States was determined to defeat the Soviet Union in the so-called “space race”; as a result, in 1966 the budget for NASA equalled roughly 4.41 percent of the total federal budget. Since 1993, however, NASA has never managed to take up even 1 percent of the total federal budget, forcing the agency to work with the private sector in order to continue performing many of its most basic operations.

That is why, as we enter a new decade, companies like Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are promising to bring us into a new era of privatized space travel. But while this may seem like a good thing on paper — who wouldn’t want to live in their own rocket ship? — it may be less so in practice.

“While NASA has to answer to the interests of the government and taxpayers, private companies have to take into account profitability, the interests of a variety of shareholders, and reliance on a secure contract with NASA,” Lina Shi of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School wrote in 2016. “Since profitability is a major factor in a lot of decision making, programs that focus on the general development of space exploration and knowledge, but lack immediate commercial applications, may not be developed.”

There are also concerns about the potential environmental impact of privatized space flights. For one thing, SpaceX’s plan to put 25,000 satellites into space could have a serious impact on astronomy. Avi Loeb, chairman of Harvard’s science department, told Salon last year that SpaceX’s satellites could create so much reflected sunlight that they will interfere with scientists’ ability to observe space from the ground.

“They are already requesting 30,000 new satellites beyond the 12,000 that were granted, and the number will grow further without any space laws to moderate the growth,” Loeb told Salon. “It is essential to find a technological solution that would minimize the footprint of these satellites on telescope images (or else we will need to always avoid their predictable locations or relocate optical observatories to the Moon).”

He added, “The problem is particularly acute for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) which will survey repeatedly a large fraction of the sky. There is no doubt that it will be addressed in the 2020 Decadal survey of Astronomy which will summarize the priorities of the Astronomy community for the next decade.”

Meanwhile, there are plenty of concerns about the carbon emissions of rocket launches in general. Smithsonian Magazine estimates that each Falcon 9 launch produces approximately 150 metric tons of carbon, meaning that they would pump 4,000 metric tons into our atmosphere every year if they achieved their goal of a launch every two weeks. Regular rocket launches would also dump chemicals like chlorine, black carbon and aluminum oxide into the atmosphere, all of which would also cause significant damage to our ozone layer.

As Dr. Martin Ross, senior project engineer for commercial launch projects at The Aerospace Corporation, told Digital Trends, regular rocket emissions “could have a more significant role in the totality of Earth’s climate system than aviation CO2 emissions. But we do not know enough about rocket particle emissions to say for sure with any degree of scientific clarity. The scientific level of understanding rocket emissions is out of line with their level of potential impacts.”

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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft faces its biggest test – UPI News

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