About the Author

Zac Hall


Space Reporter at Space Explored

Zac Hall covers NASA, SpaceX, and all space exploration news for Space Explored, part of the 9to5 Network.

Zac has also been published in the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, part of the USA Today network, and has covered Apple news and technology at 9to5Mac since 2013.

He also hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts on the 9to5Mac Podcast Network.

Zac lives in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, with his wife and two kids, where he enjoys running, cycling, his dog Apollo, and two ducks Artemis and Gemini.

Email tips, pitches, typos, and feedback to Zac@SpaceExplored.com.

Follow: Twitter @apollozac + Instagram @apollozac

July 13

Just north of Interstate I-10 along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi is a gigantic, orange core stage that will soon be used to send NASA’s most powerful rocket ever to the Moon. The 212-foot-tall core stage of Space Launch System, the vehicle for Artemis lunar missions starting next year, is currently hoisted up on the red, white, and meatball’d B-2 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center.

Engineers at the space center in south Mississippi are responsible for ensuring that the giant fuel tank and RS-25 engines are ready for action before being transferred to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Steps range from testing flight electronics to loading and draining 350 tons of rocket fuel.

The ultimate step in the Green Run test is to fire up the four Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines fueled by the core stage. The static fire test will occur for up to eight minutes, creating a thunderous roar as the SLS core stage is held down by the B-2 Test Stand. Make no mistake: This engine test fire will be epic.

So how far along is NASA’s Green Run test for the Space Launch System core stage? Follow along here as NASA completes each step of the Green Run test:

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July 11

Update on July 11: “Standing down from today’s launch of the tenth Starlink mission to allow more time for checkouts; team is working to identify the next launch opportunity. Will announce a new target date once confirmed with the Range,” SpaceX announced.

SpaceX will attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center on Saturday at 10:54 a.m. EDT. SpaceX is sending its tenth batch of Starlink satellites to space. These satellites will be used for a new global broadband service that will focus on bringing internet connectivity to underserved areas.

The rocket launch is also a ridesharing mission that will include two BlackSky satellites. Today’s mission will mark the second ridesharing mission for SpaceX Starlink launches.

Falcon 9’s first stage will attempt to land 8 minutes 24 seconds after liftoff. The 59 satellite payload will be deployed in space shortly after 1 hour from liftoff.

Watch the launch, landing, and deployment below.

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July 9

Space Explored is now available in Apple News

Quick programming note from Space Explored: Apple News readers can now follow our stories from the News app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Google Earth made global satellite imagery of the Earth widely accessible for free in 2005. This week, Google is celebrating a decade and a half of the 3D Earth imaging software with 15 impacts Google Earth has made so far.

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July 7

SpaceX is scheduled to send its tenth batch of Starlink internet satellites to space on a Falcon 9 rocket in less than 24 hours. The payload will also include two Earth observation satellites from Seattle-based BlackSky Global.

The Starlink 9 mission follows the successful launch of a next generation GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force on June 30. Photographer Michael Cain, who has been shooting rocket launches for three years, decided to try a different camera for capturing SpaceX’s previous launch: the iPhone.

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Virgin Galactic will host a video walkthrough of the crew cabin for private astronauts inside its SpaceShipTwo Unity later this month. The virtual event is expected to coincide with the launch of a new experience for learning about the upcoming suborbital commercial launch service.

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Rocket Lab ended its streak of 11 successful Electron rocket launches in a row on Saturday, July 4. The 13th flight of Electron resulted in a loss of vehicle about 10 minutes after what appeared to be a successful launch.

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June 30

The window for launching from Earth to Mars opens on July 17. NASA planned to use the date to launch its newest Mars rover Perseverance tasked with finding signs of past life on Mars.

NASA associate administrator Steve Jurczyk shared on June 9, however, that the earliest date launch partner United Launch Alliance can lift off is July 20. The launch date slipped back another two days on June 24 following a “ground support systems issue identified during the packing of the spacecraft into protective fairings that go on top of the rocket.”

As of June 30, however, the current launch target is no earlier than July 30. The original launch target extended through August 5, although NASA and ULA believe they can launch as late as August 15 if needed.

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NASA is preparing to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis program. The program currently includes three Artemis missions including two uncrewed lunar flight tests and one mission to send astronauts to the Moon. Today NASA shared an Artemis program update supporting up to six additional missions under the program.

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SpaceX will attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station this afternoon at 3:55 p.m. EDT. SpaceX is sending the GPS III Space Vehicle 3 to space to join a constellation of 31 existing global positioning system satellites operated by the United States.

Falcon 9’s first stage will attempt to land on the SpaceX droneship “Just Read the Instructions” in the Atlantic Ocean 8 minutes 30 seconds after liftoff. The GPS III satellite payload will be deployed in space 1 hour and 29 minutes after liftoff.

Watch the launch, landing, and deployment below.

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June 24

Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters is now the official name of the space agency’s headquarters in Washington D.C., NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Wednesday. Jackson, who died in 2005, made history at NASA in 1958 as the agency’s first Black female engineer.

Jackson started her NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Jackson, a mathematician and aerospace engineer, went on to lead programs influencing the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. […]

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June 23

NASA has named the team tasked with developing the process for sending agency scientists, engineers, operators, and trainers on suborbital spaceflight missions. The effort will allow NASA to purchase seats on suborbital spaceflight missions from commercial companies including Virgin Orbit and Blue Origin in the future.

The Suborbital Crew office lead by Scott Colloredo will operate within the Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy Space Center. Kathy Lueders will oversee the program from NASA HQ as recently named associate administrator of Human Exploration and Operations.

Colloredo previously served as the Deputy Director of Engineering at Kennedy Space Center. Lueders, who previously managed NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, was recently promoted to serve as the first female head of human spaceflight at NASA. Steve Stich succeeded Lueders as Commercial Crew Program Manager.

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June 22

We’ve seen a detailed view of what it looks like to be inside a Starlink fairing before the broadband internet satellites are deployed in space. Now it’s time to see what the Starlink ground infrastructure looks like back on Earth.

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NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine unveiled plans to create a process for opening astronaut spaceflight to more commercial companies on Friday.

NASA is developing the process to fly astronauts on commercial suborbital spacecraft. Whether it’s suborbital, orbital, or deep space, NASA will utilize our nation’s innovative commercial capabilities.

Virgin Galactic followed up with its own announcement on Monday regarding plans to develop a “new private orbital astronaut readiness program.”

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June 17

American rocket companies will soon be able to launch to space from the UK

American rocket companies will soon have new spaceports to launch from in the United Kingdom thanks to a new Technology Safeguard Agreement signed by the US and UK today. Here’s the announcement:

If a dog is man’s best friend, can a robot dog named Zeus be best friends with a rocket to Mars? We’d like to believe so, and that’s what appears to be happening in South Texas.

LabPadre who documents SpaceX activity at its Boca Chica facility caught footage of what appears to be a Boston Dynamics-made robot dog running around the Starship test site.

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June 15

Bob Behnken arrived at the International Space Station two weeks ago on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Now the NASA astronaut is about to leave the confines of the space station for the first time since arriving.

NASA shared today that astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy will complete two spacewalks outside of the space station.

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June 12

SpaceX has published a new web form for signing up for updates on its Starlink satellite broadband internet service. Potential Starlink customers can provide an email address and a ZIP code to be notified when testing opportunities open in local areas.

Both U.S. and Canadian ZIP codes are accepted, and it’s possible more countries around the world can register for updates as well.

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NASA replaced its spaceflight lead Doug Leverro in charge of human exploration just days before SpaceX sent astronauts to the space station for the first time last month. Kenneth Bowersox temporarily took the position in an acting role during the Demo-2 mission on May 30.

Today, NASA has filled the position of Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate in an official capacity. Kathy Leuders, who has managed Commercial Crew and Commercial Cargo programs for NASA since 2014, will now lead Human Explorations & Operations.

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June 11

The Perseverance Mars rover isn’t the only new rover in NASA’s collection of robots that will explore celestial bodies in space. The slightly more aggressively named VIPER rover will be Moon-bound in 2023.

Today NASA unveiled which company has been awarded the contract to transport VIPER to the Moon using a lunar landing system: Astrobotic. The company will receive $199.5 million for the service.

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