The fourth SpaceX Falcon 9 mission for mobile satellite communications operator Iridium remains on track for Dec. 22, the company said today, assuaging concerns that the launch would be delayed along with other December missions.
The president of SpaceX said she expects the company would receive additional funding from the U.S. government to support the development of its large reusable launch system.
A prominent venture capitalist who has been a key investor and supporter of commercial space efforts has left the firm he co-founded and is taking a leave of absence from the board of SpaceX.
NASA may decide to allow SpaceX to use a previously-flown Falcon 9 first stage on the next Dragon mission to the International Space Station, the latest sign that SpaceX’s reusability efforts are winning broader acceptance in the market.
If the House NDAA language ends up becoming law, it would set things back at least two years, said Claire Leon, director of the Launch Enterprise Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center, in Los Angeles, California.
SpaceX’s Oct. 30 launch of the Koreasat-5A telecommunications satellite doubled the number of Falcon 9 missions completed in a single year and ties the company with United Launch Alliance’s record of 16 launches in one year.
SpaceX and OneWeb say they are within months of launching the first satellites in their competing megaconstellations of broadband smallsats designed to bring internet to every corner of the globe.
The U.S. Air Force has provided SpaceX with an additional $40.7 million to support continued development of the company’s Raptor engine.
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium will use previously flown Falcon 9 first stages for its next two launches in order not to miss its mid-2018 goal for completing the Iridium Next constellation.
Israeli satellite operator Spacecom has agreed to launch its next satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX in 2019, and will likely launch a second satellite on another Falcon 9 in 2020.
SpaceX completed its third launch with a previously used first stage booster Oct. 11, carrying a geostationary satellite for customers EchoStar and SES.
SpaceX carried out the third of eight missions for Iridium Communications early Oct. 9, launching ten more Iridium Next satellites on a Falcon 9 from California.