by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Report
August 29, 2017


Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX’s Spacesuit of the Future

In true Elon Musk fashion, the latest SpaceX creation has been revealed with dramatic flair. Posting on his Instagram account early Wednesday morning, Musk unveiled the first iteration of his SpaceX spacesuit. The design, seen only from the waist up, features a slim black-and-white aesthetic and is a far cry from the bulky, puffy spacesuits worn by NASA astronauts. How hard was it to combine fashion and function? According to Musk’s post, very, but he noted that the suits are fully functional and have “already been tested to double vacuum pressure.” These slim suits won’t be used for space walks, but they will protect astronauts from any potential loss of cabin pressure during flight. High-altitude pilots wear similar suits to ensure essential bodily functions aren’t harmed by a drop in pressure. — Nat Geo

First picture of SpaceX spacesuit. / SpaceX  / Click Image to go to Elon Musk’s Instagram post.


SpaceX to Build Dragon Facility, Test Stand at Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone 1

SpaceX has received regulatory approval to make changes to its landing zone at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in anticipation of increased activities related to its Dragon spacecraft. The St. Johns River Water Management District granted SpaceX permission to move ahead with changes to Landing Zone 1, formerly known as Launch Complex 13 when it was built in the late 1950s. SpaceX and the Air Force, which owns the land, submitted the environmental permit for stormwater infrastructure on July 31.

Landing Zone 1 will play host to a temporary Dragon processing and refurbishment facility until a permanent location is found. And a “static test fire” stand near the new Dragon facility will be built to test the spacecraft’s launch abort system, which is designed to quickly transport the vehicle and astronauts away from the rocket in the event of an emergency.

SpaceX was granted permission in April 2017 to begin constructing a second landing pad to the north of the first, which will be used to host simultaneous landings of two first stages after the company’s three-core, 27-engine Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A, tentatively planned for November. Its two side stages will land at the Cape, while its center core will target a drone ship landing. — Florida Today

SpaceX’s plans for Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (Photo: St. Johns River Water Management District)


Virgin Galactic Prepares for Spaceflights from New Mexico

Virgin Galactic stopped providing public estimates of when it will begin taking passengers into space for years while it worked to fix the design flaw and complete SpaceShipTwo. With lives at stake, its reputation on the line, and facing criticism of its business model and plans, the company is focused on getting it right, Pete Nickolenko said.

The company has 21 employees in Las Cruces and says it will move 85-90 more to southern New Mexico from California once testing on its spaceship is complete. The company’s Las Cruces office is the most tangible sign in Las Cruces of the vision voters embraced a decade ago when they helped fund Spaceport America’s construction with a tax increase – a vision that has yet to become reality. —


SpaceX has launched more rockets in 2017 than any other country or space company in the world

SpaceX just launched its 12th rocket of the year. That’s more rockets than other country or space company in the world, including the rocket juggernaut Russia, who has launched 11 rockets so far this year. What’s more, SpaceX’s mission was to send the first exclusively-made Taiwanese satellite to space. If SpaceX keeps up its momentum, it could launch 20 total rockets by the year’s end. — Business Insider


Here Is the Safety Trick That Will Help SpaceX Fly You to the Moon

To put itself in position to deliver on its promise to fly tourists to the moon next year, SpaceX has had to completely reinvent the way it ensures that rockets won’t fly off track and endanger lives. Working with the U.S. Air Force, the company has developed autonomous rocket-tracking technology that makes it possible to fly its next-generation launch vehicle. It also dramatically cuts the cost of a rocket launch and makes it possible to launch on much shorter notice—both of which could be a boon not just for SpaceX but for the entire U.S. space industry.

Editor’s Note: SpaceX did not develop the autonomous flight safety system, but they did agree to integrate and demonstrate the technology on its rockets. This tech has been in development for years and will indeed make launches more affordable while making the spaceport more capable and efficient.  — MIT Technology Review


Lockheed Martin Powers-up Next Orion Spacecraft for First Time

Engineers at Lockheed Martin and NASA breathed life into the next Orion crew module when they powered up the spacecraft for the first time at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Designed for human spaceflight, this Orion will be the first to fly more than 40,000 miles beyond the Moon during its nearly three-week Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), a feat that hasn’t been possible before.

“Orion was designed from the beginning to take humanity farther into space than we’ve ever gone, and to do this, its systems have to be very robust and reliable,” said Mike Hawes, vice president and Orion program manager at Lockheed Martin. “Over the last year, we’ve built great momentum in assembling the crew module for EM-1. Everyone on the team understands how crucial this test campaign is, and more importantly, what this spacecraft and mission means to our country and future human space flight.”

The initial power-on event was the first time the vehicle management computers and the power and data units were installed on the crew module, loaded with flight software and tested. Evaluating these core systems, thought of as the “brain and heart” of the Orion capsule, is the first step in testing all of the crew module subsystems. — Space Ref


Imagining the Future: How Illustrators Shape Visions of the Future

Oftentimes, the public becomes inspired about space by seeing fantastic imagery, photos, and illustrations. Men like Robert McCall, Chesley Bonestell, and Alan Bean have lit the fire of imagination in a million minds. It was with this firmly in mind that SFI sat down with our team of graphic and photo illustrators and asked them: What got them interested in sharing their excitement for space exploration with the world? — SpaceFlight Insider

Joel Håland has provided stunning imagery of rockets and spacecraft. Image Credit: Joel Håland / SpaceFlight Insider


From Boeing to SpaceX: 11 Companies Looking to Shake Up the Satellite Space

The FCC granted WorldVu Satellites Ltd., doing business as OneWeb, permission in June to enter the U.S. satellite market. OneWeb wants to build a constellation of 720 satellites to provide internet services across the world and expects to launch its first satellite next year. But it’s far from the only company with designs on space. Despite earlier attempts at satellite businesses that came and went, new entrants want to take advantage of advancements in technology and give it a go. — FierceWireless

Not all of the proposals are aiming to connect the unconnected; some are geared toward IoT or serving the space industry.


Billionaire Moguls Join Musk, Bezos in Race to Outer Space

Think billionaires and outer space and three names quickly come to mind: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. It turns out, though, that they have plenty of company. There are 13 others among the world’s 500 richest people who have an investment in a space enterprise, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and consulting firm Bryce Space & Technology. While technology tycoons dominate, the list also includes casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who’s backing a lunar mission, and Mexican retail and banking billionaire Ricardo Salinas, an investor in satellite network OneWeb. — Bloomberg


Additive Manufacturing in the Space Industry to Reach $4.7 Billion

Research and Markets’ new report is projecting that the yearly value of additive manufactured parts in the space industry will reach $4.7 billion, driving nearly $1 billion in yearly sales of 3D-printed equipment, software and materials. The “Additive Manufacturing for Space Industry Applications – From Earth to Orbit and Beyond: An Opportunity Analysis and Ten-Year Forecast” report quantifies the projected value of additive manufactured parts and identifies the most commercially important technologies, materials and applications for 3D printing of space-borne parts. It includes 10-year forecasts of the materials, hardware, software and additive manufacture service, both in terms of demand and revenues. — Via Satellite


Risk Takers Are Back in the Space Race—and That’s a Good Thing

“In a fight between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who would win?” Peter Diamandis asked Blue Origin’s Erika Wagner to kick off a conversation with a panel of space entrepreneurs at Singularity University’s Global Summit this week in San Francisco. “So, Peter, let me tell you about what we’re doing at Blue Origin,” Wagner answered rather diplomatically, eliciting chuckles from the audience. “We’re really looking towards a future of millions of people living and working in space. The thing I think is really fantastic…is that the universe is infinitely large, and so, we don’t need any fisticuffs.” — Singularity Hub


Moon Express Building Lunar Lander in Florida, May Launch Here Too

Cape Canaveral-based private aerospace company Moon Express is building the first of its four vehicles that will land on the Moon when its launches its lunar mission before the end of this year. The company is testing its lander vehicle MX-1 Scout at Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 17 and 18. While work for the lander is taking place in Cape Canaveral, the launch will happen in New Zealand atop Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle. Although Moon Express’s first launch will be in New Zealand, future launches may take place at Cape Canaveral. Richards said it’s the “best place to launch from the Moon and stay close to other rocket activity.” — Orlando Business Journal

Moon Express is building its MX-1 Scout Explorer in Cape Canaveral.


Why the US Must Lead Again

The new National Space Council will have many options for issues to tackle when it starts its work in the coming weeks. Douglas Loverro argues in an open letter to the council’s incoming executive secretary that it should focus on the policies the US should promote internationally that best serve national needs. — The Space Review


Building Off US Law to Create an International Registry of Extraterrestrial Mining Claims

Passage of space resources laws in the US and Luxembourg have raised questions about whether treaties grant rights for extracted resources to companies or countries. Will Gray argues that those laws can become the basis for an international regime for mining claims off Earth. — The Space Review


The Science of Star Trek

Is Star Trek really a science show, or just a lot of “gee, whiz” nonsensical sci-fi? Could people really do the fantastic things they did on the original Star Trek: The Original Series and later programs in, or are they all just hi-tech fantasy for people who can’t face reality? Will the real world come to resemble the world of unlimited power for people to travel about the galaxy in luxurious, gigantic ships to meet exotic alien beings as equals? — NASA

In 1976, NASA’s space shuttle Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities and was greeted by NASA officials and cast members from the ‘Star Trek’ television series. From left to right they are: NASA Administrator Dr. James D. Fletcher; DeForest Kelley, who portrayed Dr. “Bones” McCoy on the series; George Takei (Mr. Sulu); James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott); Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura); Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock); series creator Gene Roddenberry; U.S. Rep. Don Fuqua (D.-Fla.); and, Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov).
Credits: NASA