Stardate 240217 SXX launches 'Woodsmith'. Significance unknown. As the Third Rock mainstream media appears to be grinding to a halt, time to sling a hook at ex-terrestrial launches :
"An important shipment has finally arrived at the International Space Station, after a series of errors, delays and challenges. The SpaceX capsule smoothly arrived at the station the second time around as astronauts grabbed hold of the cargo ship, as the two of them floated somewhere over Australia. The capsule had been scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. But a GPS error stopped it from getting too close and the move had to be aborted.
The Dragon - loaded with 5,500lbs of supplies - lifted off on Sunday from Nasa's historic moon pad at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Now leased by SpaceX, the pad had been idle since the close of the shuttle programme almost six years ago. The station's six crew members will accept another shipment on Friday, this one from the Russians. Given the Dragon's delayed arrival - lift-off also occurred a day late - the astronauts were under orders to open the capsule as soon as possible to retrieve sensitive science experiments.
"Sorry about the delays," Mission Control said. "Now the real work starts."
""Congratulations Dragon on a successful journey from Earth and now welcome on board," said French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who used the station's big robot arm to grab the capsule. At the top of the crew's unloading list: 20 mice that are part of a wound-healing experiment. Another 20 mice are taking part in the study on the ground, as control subjects. Other newly arrived research: highly infectious MRSA bacteria, triple-contained so it does not get loose; stem cells; and instruments for studying lightning and the Earth's ozone layer.
"The Dragon will remain at the space station for a month before it is cut loose to bring back science samples and other items. It is the only supply ship capable of returning intact to Earth, as all the others burn up during re-entry. SpaceX is one of two private companies flying up supplies for Nasa. Besides the French astronaut, the space station is home to two Americans and three Russians."
Think... the local co-op.
The road to the Red Planet has been delayed ... http://www.spacex.com/careers
"About a year ago, SpaceX announced a 2018 mission to Mars. The plan was to send a probe to land on the surface with a possible sample return mission to follow at a later date. With less than two years to go, the private spaceflight company has decided that it can't meet that deadline after all. SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell recently announced that the company is pushing their Mars mission back to 2020.
SpaceX has a lot on its plate. The Hawthorne-based company is currently making regular cargo deliveries to the ISS, struggling to develope a commercial crew program, working on a heavy version of its Falcom 9 rockets, and trying to build a brand new spaceport in Texas. With that much going on, SpaceX decided it didn't make sense to also rush a Mars mission, which has its own set of technical challenges.
Postponing their Mars mission means having to wait another two years, as the best window for a launch to the red planet only happens once every 26 months. Hopefully this extra time gives SpaceX the chance to tackle their other problems first and then focus on Mars.
SpaceX's mission to Mars, when it finally happens, will involve placing a modified Dragon capsule on the surface of the Planet. That capsule will be the heaviest object to ever land on Mars, so getting it to the surface in one piece presents virtually endless challenges. Mars's atmosphere is too thin to slow down something of that size with a parachute, so SpaceX is planning to use booster rockets.
SpaceX has previously floated a sample return mission to Mars as well, with a landing module to collect surface samples from NASA's Mars 2020 rover and launch them back to Earth. While SpaceX's original plans did not include sample return for the company's first Mars mission, it's possible the updated timetable will give them the chance to do so." Source: The Verge
Meanwhile Trump is urging NASA to bring forward plans for adding two crew members to its SLS rocket EM-1.
"NASA is assessing the feasibility of adding a crew to the first integrated flight of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). NASA is building new deep space capabilities to take humans farther into the solar system than we have ever traveled, and ultimately to Mars."
" The assessment will review the technical feasibility, risks, benefits, additional work required, resources needed and any associated schedule impacts to add crew to the first mission. “Our priority is to ensure the safe and effective execution of all our planned exploration missions with the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket,” said Gerstenmaier. “This is an assessment and not a decision as the primary mission for EM-1 remains an uncrewed flight test.”
The assessment is evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of this concept with regards to short- and long-term goals of achieving deep space exploration capabilities for the nation. It will assume launching two crew members in mid-2019, and consider adjustments to the current EM-1 mission profile"
"Meanwhile, SpaceX now has more time to work on its other big goals, such as the first launch of the Falcon Heavy — a larger variant of its Falcon 9 rocket — which is slated to occur this summer, according to Shotwell. Additionally, SpaceX is updating its Dragon capsule so that it can fly astronauts to the International Space Station. The company is aiming to launch crew aboard the spacecraft for the first time in 2018, however a recent govenment audit cast serious doubts on that time frame. At today’s press conference, Shotwell maintained that SpaceX is confident about launching crew in 2018 despite what the report said. Perhaps delaying the Red Dragon mission will help the company meet that goal.
If SpaceX does end up launching in 2020, there’s going to be a lot of traffic on Mars around that time. NASA's next Mars rover is supposed to launch in 2020, as well as the rover for the ExoMars mission — a joint project between Roscosmos and the European Space Agency to look for signs of life on the planet. The United Arab Emirates plans to send an orbiter to Mars in 2020 as well, and even China has expressed a goal of reaching Mars by the end of the decade."
Waste not want not ....
No? Oh ok ... "For Elon Musk, it’s been a tough 48 hours in an otherwise spectacular year."