SpaceX Starlink internet could be coming to an airline near you

By Trevor Mogg

As SpaceX continues to deploy numerous satellites in low-Earth orbit as part of its Starlink internet project, the company revealed this week that it’s talking to “several airlines” about the possibility of providing in-flight Wi-Fi.

Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s VP of Starlink and commercial sales, revealed the news during an event at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit on Wednesday, The Verge reported.

“We’re in talks with several of the airlines,” Hofeller told a panel at the event, adding, “We have our own aviation product in development … We’ve already done some demonstrations to date and looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future.”

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SpaceX reveals new Crew Dragon with an incredible window dome

By Chris Davies 

SpaceX has revealed a new image of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, showing an incredible glass dome window on top for incredible views of space. The new image shows the familiar bullet-shaped craft but now with a pop-up nose cone, which hinges back to reveal what might end up being the best seat in orbit.

It’s based on the existing Crew Dragon design, but does away with the docking adapter that would ordinarily be intended to mate with the International Space Station. That’s there so that astronaut missions can take place, shuttling people up and down from the ISS, as well as cargo and other items.

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SpaceX reveals the grand extent of its starport plans in South Texas

An orbital view of SpaceX’s South Texas launch site, with SN10 on the pad, in early March. Maxar Technologies

By Eric Berger 

THE COMPANY WILL HAVE TWO ORBITAL, AND TWO SUBORBITAL LAUNCH PADS.

As part of a federal review process for its plans in South Texas, details of SpaceX’s proposed spaceport have been made public. They were posted late last week in a public notice from the US Army Corps of engineers, which is soliciting public comments on the changes.

Most notably, the new documents include a detailed architectural drawing of the multi-acre site at the southern tip of Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico. The major hardware that exists or will be built includes:

  • Two orbital launch pads, one of which is already under constriction
  • Two suborbital launch pads, one of which already exists
  • Two landing pads, one of which already exists
  • Two structural test stands for Starship and the Super Heavy booster
  • A large “tank farm” to provide ground support equipment for orbital flights
  • A permanent position for the totemic “Starhopper” vehicle at the site’s entrance
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SpaceX moon mission to take eight people ‘further than any human has ever gone’ from Earth

Bankrolled by a Japanese millionaire, the DearMoon mission plans to transport eight people around the moon and back in 2023

By Jackson Ryan

The SpaceX Starship prototype, flying high above the launch facility in Boca Chica, TexasSpaceX

In 2023, will civilians fly around the moon for the first time? According to Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, the answer is yes. He is bankrolling the DearMoon mission, which is intended to take a group of eight people to the moon on SpaceX’s still-in-development Starship and loop around Earth’s natural satellite on a six-day mission. 

The project, announced by Maezawa and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in 2018, originally planned to invite artists from around the world to experience. The criteria for “artists” was never clearly defined, but on Tuesday, in a new promotional video for the mission, Maezawa announced that DearMoon would be opened up to practically everyone across the globe. 
“I began to think that maybe every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist,” he says in the video, which you can view below.

Maezawa outlines “two key criteria” for the civilian passengers. These seem fairly flexible, too. 

  • “Whatever activity you are into, by going to space, I hope that you can push its envelope, to help other people and greater society in some way.”
  • “You have to be willing and able to support other crew members who share similar aspirations.”
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Elon Musk Wants To Build a City Called ‘Starbase’ in Texas

If Texas approves, the Starbase city will be located near SpaceX’s Boca Chica site.

By  Fabienne Lang

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is thinking about creating a city called Starbase, which will be located around his space company’s rocket launch and production facility in Texas. 

Musk already approached state county officials about his interest to incorporate the Boca Chica Village into the City of Starbase, as read SpaceX’s official inquiry.

In typical Musk style, the billionaire also shared his idea on Twitter, where he simply said “Creating the city of Starbase, Texas.” Followed by “From thence to Mars, and hence the Stars.”

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SpaceX aims to launch ‘all-civilian’ trip into orbit

SpaceX will launch two crewed flights for NASA in 2021 and four cargo refueling missions, and it hopes to launch the world’s first commercial astronaut mission

SpaceX announced Monday it’s aiming to launch this year the first all-civilian mission into Earth’s orbit, led by a tech billionaire who plans to raffle off one of the spots aboard the craft.

Entrepreneur Jared Isaacman is to be joined by three other novice astronauts for a multi-day journey into space, including one lucky winner of a drawing.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure: a journey into outer space on the first all-civilian space flight,” according to a website dedicated to the mission.

SpaceX, the company started by Elon Musk, said Isaacman is “donating the three seats alongside him… to individuals from the general public who will be announced in the weeks ahead.”

Launch of the Dragon spacecraft is being targeted for “no earlier than the fourth quarter of this year”, the firm said. 

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Elon Musk reveals ambitious plans to get humans to Mars by 2026 – seven YEARS before NASA aims to take astronauts to the Red Planet

The worlds richest man, Elon Musk, has revealed an ambitious plan to get humans on Mars by 2026 – seven years before NASA aims to land astronauts on the Red Planet.

By Ryan Morrison

  • Elon Musk says the first crewed flight to the Red Planet could happen in 2026
  • This isn’t a ‘hard deadline’ as a number of new technologies are needed first
  • Speaking on Clubhouse, Musk says it is vital humans become multi-planetary 
  • He said the first Mars colony will be a ‘frontier’, dangerous and a ‘hard place’
  • Musk said by the fourth or fifth Martian landing – operating every two years or so – he’d consider allowing his children to make the trip to the Red Planet 

Speaking on the audio-only Clubhouse app on Sunday, the SpaceX founder told the Good Times Show his goal was to establish a self-sustaining Martian civilisation.

The ambitious deadline gives him five and a half years to get the massive Starship spacecraft off the ground – but there is a long way to go as the massive 160ft rocket is still at the prototype stage – with a second high-altitude test flight due soon. 

It currently takes at least six months to get to the planet, but Musk believes that could be down to as little as a month, with flights operating every two years. 

He said the first colony will be a tiny, dangerous, ‘frontier-like’ environment as they begin to establish propellant manufacturing, food production and power plants. 

NASA plans to put the first humans on Mars by 2033 as part of its Artemis program that will see the next man and first woman land on the Moon in 2024. 

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SpaceX’s Newest Starlink Satellites Have Space Lasers

By Ryan Whitwam 

SpaceX made history recently when it launched a record 143 satellites on a single rocket. Among the plethora of spacecraft were ten new Starlink internet satellites. According to CEO Elon Musk, these are the first nodes in SpaceX’s network that have fully operational laser communication systems, allowing the satellites to talk to each other without ground stations for faster, more expansive coverage. 

Last weekend’s launch was also notable because it deployed its payload in a polar orbit, which uses more fuel than placing things in an equatorial orbit. Objects in a polar orbit will eventually pass over the entire surface of the planet because their movement is perpendicular to the Earth’s rotation. That’s why most mapping satellites are in polar orbits. Starlink satellites in polar orbits can also help boost coverage, but this also means they’ll pass over areas with no ground station coverage. 

The solution, apparently, is lasers. It’s always fun when the solution is lasers. 

The batch of ten Starlink satellites includes a finished version of the laser intersatellite links the company tested on a few other nodes last year. As these satellites pass over the poles, there will be no visible ground stations to relay data. However, the lasers can transfer directly between satellites, keeping them connected to the rest of the constellation. 

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ELON MUSK’S SPACEX IS CONVERTING OIL RIGS INTO SPACEPORTS FOR MARS-BOUND STARSHIP

SpaceX has acquired two oil rigs stationed in the Gulf of Mexico (Getty Images)

By Anthony Cuthbertson

Private space firm previously said it is ‘actively developing the technologies…with the ultimate goal of enabling human life or mars’.

SpaceX has acquired two offshore oil rigs that it is in the process of converting into spaceports for its Mars-bound Starship spacecraft, according to reports.

The rigs, renamed Deimos and Phoibos after the two moons of Mars, cost $3.5 million (£2.6m) each after the previous owner filed for bankruptcy, Spaceflight’s Michael Baylor reported.u

The oil rigs were confirmed by aerospace and launch photographer Jack Beyer, who posted photos of their transformation to Twitter on Tuesday.

Work on the rigs is taking place in the Port of Brownsville near SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas where the Starship craft is being developed.

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The plan to turn scrapped rockets into space stations

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Spent rockets are dangerous space trash, but they could be the future of living and working in orbit.

IN EARLY OCTOBER, a dead Soviet satellite and the abandoned upper stage of a Chinese rocket narrowly avoided a collision in low Earth orbit. If the objects had crashed, the impact would have blown them to bits and created thousands of new pieces of dangerous space debris. Only a few days prior, the European Space Agency had published its annual space environment report, which highlighted abandoned rocket bodies as one of the biggest threats to spacecraft. The best way to mitigate this risk is for launch providers to deorbit their rockets after they’ve delivered their payload. But if you ask Jeffrey Manber, that’s a waste of a perfectly good giant metal tube.

Manber is the CEO of Nanoracks, a space logistics company best known for hosting private payloads on the International Space Station, and for the past few years he has been working on a plan to turn the upper stages of spent rockets into miniature space stations. It’s not a new idea, but Manber feels its time has come. “NASA has looked at the idea of refurbishing fuel tanks several times,” he says. “But it was always abandoned, usually because the technology wasn’t there.” All of NASA’s previous plans depended on astronauts doing a lot of the manufacturing and assembly work, which made the projects expensive, slow, and hazardous. Manber’s vision is to create an extraterrestrial chop shop where astronauts are replaced by autonomous robots that cut, bend, and weld the bodies of spent rockets until they’re fit to be used as laboratories, fuel depots, or warehouses.

The Nanoracks program, known as Outpost, will modify rockets after they’re done with their mission to give them a second life. The first Outposts will be uncrewed stations made from the upper stages of new rockets, but Manber says it’s possible that future stations could host people or be built from rocket stages already in orbit. In the beginning, Nanoracks won’t use the interior of the rocket and will mount experiment payloads, power supply modules, and small propulsion units to the outside of the fuselage. Once company engineers have that figured out, they can focus on developing the inside of the rocket as a pressurized laboratory.

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SpaceX Starlink : User terms of service declare Mars as ‘free planet’

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SpaceX has released its terms of service to beta testers, and it makes a strong statement about Mars’ future government.

STARLINK’S BETA TEST IS REQUIRING PARTICIPANTS TO RECOGNIZE MARS AS A “FREE PLANET.”

It’s an unusual bit of fine print, and the implications go far beyond securing good internet on Earth.

SpaceX’s internet connectivity constellation Starlink, which began forming in May 2019, has started inviting interested fans to the “Better Than Nothing” beta test. While the final version aims to offer gigabit download speeds at low latency to anyone with a view of the sky, the beta is offering more like 50 to 150 megabits per second – hence the humble-brag test name.

But the Starlink terms of service, as spotted by Twitter account “WholeMarsBlog” and confirmed by Reddit moderator “Smoke-away,” require users to agree that “no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities.”

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