Inspiration4 all civilian mission to orbit, West Coast Starlink, Falcon Heavy on display, & more Top stories

This week Inspiration4 launched into orbit and returned to Earth, SpaceX launched polar Starlink satellites from the West Cost, and a Falcon Heavy side booster will be put on display.


Inspiration4 has been the focus this week. The mission is the first of what will be many private missions flown in SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule. The mission benefited St. Jude, through the use of the initial sweepstakes, donations, astronaut plush sales, and auctions. The $200 million goal was kickstarted with a $100 million donation by Inspiration4 Commander Jared Isaacman, and they surpassed the goal yesterday evening with a $50 million donation from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

While in orbit, the crew performed health research, outreach to St. Jude patients, and both listened to and played music.

Credit: SpaceX / Inspiration4

The crew splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean last night and was flown by helicopter to Kennedy Space Center to reunite with family (after health checks and showers on GO Searcher).

SpaceX has had over 30 launches of Starlink satellites to build out their satellite internet constellation. For the first time, earlier this week, they launched operational Starlink satellites from the west coast. Starlink Group 2-1 launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base and carried 51 Starlink V1.5 satellites into polar orbit. The booster, B1049, was on its tenth flight, and successfully landed on Of Course I Still Love You(OCISLY).

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster 1049 returns to Port of Long Beach. Credit: PeregrineDev / Space Explored

These next-generation Starlink satellites feature laser-based interconnects that allow the satellites to communicate with each other. This allows Starlink internet to operate even when a Starlink satellite is not in reach of a SpaceX Starlink ground station. These laser connections will even be used to provide communication with SpaceX’s Dragon and Starship vehicles.

Starship draft environmental report released

The FAA released the Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for Starship Super Heavy operations out of Boca Chica, Texas. The document is now in a period of public comment, prior to the completion of the PEA. There is a lot in the document that we break down in more detail in our article.

The report included details of future expansion for the launch site, breaks down the procedure leading up to launch, and even references “up to 37 raptor engines” on Super Heavy.

The public comment period on the document ends on November 1 [Previously October 18], at which point the FAA will finalize the PEA and then issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), Mitigated FONSI, or a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS.

Falcon Heavy booster to be displayed at KSC

Image Credit: Jared Locke for SpaceExplored

A Falcon Heavy side booster arrived at Kennedy Space Center’s new Gateway building this week. The booster, 1023, launch Thaicom 8 as a Falcon 9 before being converted into a Falcon Heavy Side booster for use on the rocket’s demonstration mission. The new building is expected to open in March of next year.

Five more companies work on Lunar Lander concepts for NASA

While SpaceX was selected to provide its Starship lunar lander for Artemis III, NASA has selected five more companies to work on lunar lander concepts for future landings. SpaceX, Blue Origin, Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman were each selected to develop landers. The awards amount to a total of $146 million, with the development scheduled to take 15 months.

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