January 2011

Looks like SpaceX is opening an office closer to home!

“WASHINGTON – Today SpaceX announced it is opening a new office in Chantilly, VA to serve customers looking for reliable, affordable launch solutions. The community is home to some of the world’s leading Internet and high-tech companies.
SpaceX is a leader in launch services with a family of rockets and spacecraft that increase the reliability and performance of space transportation, with a goal of ultimately reducing costs by a factor of ten.
“We are excited to open offices in Chantilly,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and CTO. “It will provide us with valuable access to important customers and an exceptional talent pool as we continue to grow.”
The new office is yet another sign of the company’s success. SpaceX is a growing company with over 1,250 employees, having nearly doubled in size every year since it was founded in 2002. The company has been profitable four years running – from 2007 to 2010.
The Chantilly office is expected to see similar rapid growth as our government and commercial customer base continues to expand. The SpaceX manifest includes over 40 missions across a diverse customer base of both commercial and government customers for the delivery of satellites to orbit.
The December launch was the first flight under NASA’s COTS program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station. After the Space Shuttle retires, SpaceX will fly at least 12 missions to carry cargo – including live plants and animals – to and from the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Resupply Services contract for NASA. Orbital of Dulles, VA is also a NASA contractor for both COTS and CRS. The SpaceX COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward the SpaceX goal for the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to one day carry astronauts
SpaceX has employees across the country and around the globe, with headquarters in Hawthorne, CA; testing facilities in McGregor, TX; launch facilities at the Air Force Station at Cape Canaveral and the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands; and offices in Huntsville, AL and Washington, DC.
For more information visit SpaceX.com.”

The 2011 Estes catalog is now available from the Estes web site. The Mosquito is back! Along with a 24mm Mega-Mosquito. I see several rockets that I really want and happy to see the A10-0T motor return to the regular listings

Estes 2011 Catalog - click image

click image for catalog.

Tube Rocket - notice smaller HPR version to the right -photo credit:Armadillo Aerospace

Called the Tube Rocket , this new rocket takes a familiar form used in rocketry and would be familiar to most HPR fliers. The 36 inch spherical LOX tanks used by Armadillo Aerospace in previous vehicles have been replaced with 15 inch cylindrical tanks. This is not VTLV vehicle that we associate with Armadillo Aerospace but a standard rocket variant. The purpose of this rocket is to give Armadillo some experience in high acceleration and micro-gravity of a space environment.The First flight goal is to exceed 100,000 feet.


Nice launch of the Japanese H-IIB (H-2-B) rocket. Watch the pitch maneuver the rocket takes toward ocean. Nice booster separation and staging video also. Spacecraft is in orbit and will have a 5 day journey to rendezvous with the IIS.

Delta IV Heavy NROL-49

UPDATE: Launch on schedule at 1:10 – Success! After staging the rocket went into a news blackout due to the secret nature of the payload.

Launch of the Delta IV heavy at 1:10 pm PST 01-20-2011

The largest rocket to launch from the west coast is scheduled to liftoff from Vandenburg Space launch Complex today at 1:08 PM PST (4:08 EST). (Time moved to 1:10 to avoid an “object in space”)

The Delta IV Heavy towering to 235 feet with a mass of 733,000 kg is capable of lifting more than any currently available rocket. The current payload will be top secret spy payload for the U.S.

STS size comparison

You can check Spaceflight Now’s mission status update page for current status

A webcast by United Launch Alliance can be seen here

If you were a space faring civilization traveling to earth you may be able to detect signs of life from our atmosphere. Paolo Nespoli was able to from the International Space Station with these lovely photos.

Contrails from space - photo credit:ESA

Contrails from space - photo credit:ESA

Nice video recap of the Dragon launch back on Dec. 8th. The video includes a piece at the end about the launch abort system. The rocket thrust landing feature is nice but probably won’t be a part of the first system.

View video here

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