SpaceX rocket lifts off with 34 Starlink satellites amid six-week NASA Artemis 1 problem

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 34 Starlink satellites, launches Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  Space X used the same first-stage booster for a record-breaking 14th time after being used for previous Starlink-related missions and others established by SpaceX.

SpaceX launched another rocket into space, its record 14th mission for the Falcon 9’s first stage, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, just feet from NASA’s Artemis 1 spacecraft, which is unlikely to be launched before October.

Saturday’s liftoff at around 9.20pm saw 34 Starlink internet satellites enter orbit ahead of another launch on Sunday.

The 230-foot unmanned rocket was sent into low-Earth orbit along with AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 communications test satellite. Starlink is a satellite Internet constellation, providing satellite Internet access coverage in 40 countries.

SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral liftoff was Starlink’s 60th launch and 40th orbital mission so far in 2022. CEO Elon Musk has said on several occasions that he aims for global coverage of cyberspace with communications service personal satellites after 2023.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 34 Starlink satellites, launches Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space X used the same first-stage booster for a record-breaking 14th time after being used for previous Starlink-related missions and others established by SpaceX.

The Falcon 9 rocket also flew the AST SpaceMobile BlueWalker 3 satellite from Port Canaveral

The Falcon 9 rocket also flew the AST SpaceMobile BlueWalker 3 satellite from Port Canaveral

The Falcon 9 Florida rocket was Starlink's 60th launch and 40th orbital mission so far in 2022

The Falcon 9 Florida rocket was Starlink’s 60th launch and 40th orbital mission so far in 2022

Space X shared images on Twitter of the landing of the first stage launch once it had reached orbit

Space X shared images on Twitter of the landing of the first stage launch once it had reached orbit

In late August, the South African billionaire struck a deal with T-Mobile to provide direct smartphone connectivity via Starlink version 2 satellites.

Space X began launching Starlink satellites in 2019. Overall, it is the company’s 179th launch. Saturday’s Falcon 9 launch saw the first stage of the rocket’s booster land in the Atlantic Ocean on its newest sea rocket landing craft, called A Shortfall to Gravitas.

The first stage booster was previously used to support the launches of eight Starlink missions. Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21 Transporter 1 and Transporter 3 were also able to fly with the same rocket engine.

Saturday’s blast was delayed by 10 minutes due to local weather conditions in the Sunshine State deemed “forbidden”.

However, this delay does not compare to NASA’s current problems with its Artemis 1 rocket. This week it was revealed that the federal space agency is replacing leaking seals on its moon rocket in the bearing, which could put the spacecraft continues into orbit for another six weeks.

When Artemis 1 finally launches for the first time, it will be an unmanned flight, but the mission is set to pave the way for the return of American astronauts to the Moon.

Managers said Thursday they will conduct another test after the repairs to make sure all hydrogen fuel leaks are plugged.

If that test goes well, and if the Space Force extends a flight safety waiver, NASA could take another stab at launching the 322-foot rocket in late September. Otherwise, the rocket will return to the hangar for additional work, delaying liftoff until at least October.

October is now believed to be the most likely option.

A series of hydrogen fuel leaks and other problems halted back-to-back launch attempts last week.

The Space Launch System rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA, contains a crew capsule with three test dummies. The space agency wants to send the capsule into lunar orbit in a test, before putting astronauts on the next flight in 2024. This mission around the moon would pave the way for the first human landing on the moon in 50 years , currently scheduled. for 2025.

“We have to do the tank test and then we have to look at what the realism is and the schedule” to make a launch attempt as early as Sept. 23, said Jim Free, who is in charge of exploration systems development at NASA, in The Associated Press.

When NASA decided to abandon its latest launch attempt last Saturday and return the rocket to the vehicle assembly building, it was because engineers could not overcome a hydrogen fuel leak, a dangerous situation that could not be rectified today.  on the last day of the current release window

When NASA decided to abandon its latest launch attempt last Saturday and return the rocket to the vehicle assembly building, it was because engineers could not overcome a hydrogen fuel leak, a dangerous situation that could not be rectified today. on the last day of the current release window

“We’ll go when it’s ready,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said after the most recent clean launch. “We’re not going until then, and especially now on a test flight, because we’re going to emphasize that and we’re going to test that, and we’re going to test that heat shield, and we’re going to make sure it’s right before we put four humans on top of that.’

To launch at the end of September, NASA needs permission from the Space Force at Cape Canaveral, which oversees the rocket’s self-destruct system. Batteries are needed to activate the system if the rocket veers into populated areas. These batteries need to be retested periodically, and this can only be done in the hangar. The military would have to extend the certification of these batteries another two weeks or more to avoid moving the rocket back to the hangar.

But every time the rocket moves between the hangar and the launch pad adds “routine wear and tear, and I don’t want to do that” unless it’s necessary, said chief engineer John Blevins. There have already been three trips to the pad for practice countdowns this year, and most recently the failed pitching attempts on Aug. 29 and Saturday.

Engineers hope that replacing a pair of seals in the hydrogen fuel lines at the bottom of the rocket will take care of the persistent leaks.

As an added precaution, the launch team plans “a kinder, gentler approach to the tank” during the final phase of the countdown, sometimes slowing the flow of fuel to reduce stress on the seals, according to Mike Bolger, director of the program.

“We are optimistic that we will be able to eliminate this problem,” he told reporters.

Years behind schedule and billions over budget, NASA’s new lunar exploration program is being named Artemis after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology. Twelve astronauts walked on the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s during NASA’s Apollo program.

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