Tariq Malik / Space.com
It’s going to be a big night for space tourism. The private spaceflight company SpaceX will reveal its first passenger for a trip around the moon on the company’s massive BFR rocket and you can watch it all live online. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has even dropped tantalizing previews of the BFR’s new rocket design on Twitter.
SpaceX will unveil its BFR rocket passenger (the name stands for Big Falcon Rocket) in a webcast tonight (Sept. 17) at its Hawthorne, California headquarters. You can watch it live here, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 Sept. 18 GMT).
The highlight anticipated reveal comes on the heels of SpaceX’s surprise announcement late Thursday (Sept. 13) that it had signed its first passenger to fly around the moon on its BFR spaceship. The company has dubbed the flight the “BFR Lunar Mission.” [The BFR in Images: SpaceX’s Giant Spaceship for Mars & Beyond]
Mike Wall / Space.com
A “private passenger” has signed up for a trip around the moon aboard SpaceX’s BFR rocket-spaceship combo, company representatives announced via Twitter this evening (Sept. 13). SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk will fill in the details Monday (Sept. 17), during a webcast event that begins at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT on Sept. 18). You can watch the SpaceX moon shot webcast live here, courtesy of SpaceX.
Musk may already have given us a clue about the private space explorer’s identity. Somebody on Twitter asked Musk if he were the passenger, and the billionaire entrepreneur responded by tweeting an emoji of the Japanese flag. [The BFR: SpaceX’s Giant Spaceship for Mars Colonization in Images]
SpaceX is prepared to loft a hefty communications satellite into orbit tonight (Sept. 9) and then attempt to land a rocket’s first stage on a drone ship at sea.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Telstar 18 Vantage communications satellite, also known as Apstar 5C, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, during a launch window that starts at 11:28 p.m. EDT (0328 GMT on Sept. 10). You can watch it online here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX. In case of delays, the launch window stretches for 4 hours.
Ryan Whitwam / ExtremeTech
It has been seven long years since the Space Shuttle retired from service, and American astronauts have been hitching rides on Russian Soyuz rockets ever since. NASA has to pay big bucks for every seat on a Soyuz mission, but the long-delayed Commercial Crew Program is supposed to change that by giving NASA access to private launch vehicles. SpaceX is now promising that its schedule is locked in and there won’t be any more delays.
SpaceX and Boeing have been working toward certification for their manned spacecraft for several years. Boeing recently suffered a setback with its CST-100 Starliner capsule after the capsule’s hydrazine engines developed a leak following a test firing. The company says it has developed a fix, but that’s going to require additional testing. Boeing has pushed its timeline back as a result.
David Szondy / New Atlas
NASA has released the names of the first nine US astronauts for the first four manned, commercial space flights. A mixture of ex-Space Shuttle crews and test pilots, the nine men and women will be the first to ride on an American-made and flagged spacecraft since the Shuttle was retired in 2011, and will act as crew on the first two test flights and the first two mission flights to the International Space Station (!SS).
The space agency’s August 3 announcement is the latest step in the United States’ return to a manned spaceflight program. Since the last Space Shuttle mission, STS-135, landed at the Kennedy Space Center on March 9, 2011, NASA has been completely dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry crews to the ISS. To return manned launches to American territory, the US government has encouraged private firms to develop and operate complete space launch systems to send astronauts and cargo to the space station and return them to Earth.
SpaceX will launch a powerful Telstar communications satellite into orbit early Sunday morning (July 22), testing out the spaceflight company’s new Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 rocket for the second time.
The launch is set to occur Sunday between 1:50 a.m. and 5:50 a.m. EDT (0550 to 0950 GMT) from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and you can watch it live online here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX. You can also follow the action directly at SpaceX’s site.
SpaceX successfully completed a test-fire of the two-stage Falcon 9 Wednesday (July 18), firing the first stage’s nine Merlin engines at full power to test them before lowering the rocket to attach the satellite payload, according to SpaceflightNow.