back to article SpaceX's next Starlink volley remains stuck on Earth to glee of astronomers everywhere

Cygnus flies, SpaceX stands down, Rocket Lab is going to the Moon and New Horizons drops a massive dump (of new data) in this week's roundup. A heck of a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of a view of Earth from really, really far away. A hot mic and fresh ISS supplies as Cygnus launches Northrop Grumman overcame both a …

  1. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Go Kiwi

    Rocket Lab is justifiably elated. Kiwi 3D printed rocket engines are to send stuff to the moon. Their demonstration of technical competence has clearly been noticed. This is also why the company started the launch facility in the US. There are laws against exporting stuff like this. NZ may be in Five Eyes and may host the US jump-off point for Antarctica from Christchurch Airport but there are limits and we are still semi detached members of ANZUS and the Western Alliance because of the Nuclear Free stance. PM Jacinda Ardern has also criticised Trump in the past demonstrating our independent foreign policy.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Go Kiwi

      The rocket motors are made in California

  2. Lotaresco Silver badge

    Meanwhile...

    Competitor OneWeb no doubt rubbing their hands with glee after the event-free launch at Baikonur.

  3. WonkoTheSane
    Go

    SpaceX rescheduled launch

    They're now targeting 15:05 GMT today (Monday 17th Feb)

  4. Starace
    Black Helicopters

    SpaceX launches

    Some people might wonder if their eagerness to throw their junk into the sky is linked to the planned IPO and lots of spare launch capacity as they seem to have a collapse in demand from paying customers?

    Demos of the system actually working might be a good idea too? So far all we have is lots of highly visible satellites (accident or useful way of proving they're up there?) but not a lot showing their fancy network in action.

    Not that I'm cynical but Musk is involved so...

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Planned IPO

      They are in no hurry for the IPO. Their launch cost was was well below their launch price before they started catching fairings. Making Starships out of steel is way cheaper than the carbon fibre composite they were working with. Their only serious competitor to Falcon is New Glenn which will not launch until next year so the money fountain is not stressed or in danger of drying up any time soon.

      Oneweb have bought launches with Blue Origin because launching on Falcon is directly feeding their competitor: Starlink. Blue is not an ideal solution because Amazon are planning their own LEO satellite internet: Kuiper Systems. The IPO might cause enough separation between SpaceX and Starlink that Oneweb decides that funding SpaceX/Starlink is no worse than Blue/Kuiper. The split might be required to prevent accusations of monopoly abuse - using a near monopoly on cheap launch to get a monopoly on LEO internet.

      I am not expecting the IPO until Starlink is running smoothly (after a bumpy start) and the Starship factory seriously looks like getting close to their target of two new Starships per week (long after Starships stop lithobreaking followed by RUD).

      1. ClockworkOwl
        Coat

        Re: Planned IPO

        "lithobreaking followed by RUD"

        Rapid Unscheduled Digging?

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Or

          Resting Under Dirt, the dirt being mostly produced by all that broken litho.

      2. Starace
        Flame

        Re: Planned IPO

        Given that the Starship assembly looks like the sort of setup that would embarrass a backstreet workshop in Kabul (blokes on iffy ladders with cables trailing around working in a tent), and that they've scrapped or unintentionally blown up everything they've built so far I'm not expecting a lot of Starship action anytime soon.

        Now if he'd built something more like Sea Dragon instead of a shiny comic toy mockup there might be something worth looking at. Would have managed the super-heavy lift, reusability and steel construction and maybe even have worked.

    2. Brangdon

      Re: SpaceX launches

      The apparent "collapse in demand" is partly a result of their success. The previous high cadence had been possible because they had a backlog of payloads that were delayed by the investigation into the AMOS 6 oopsie. By last year they had cleared that backlog and so now they are waiting for customers instead of customers waiting for them. Also, the satellite business is cyclic, with GEO satellites generally lasting 15 years, and is now in a bit of a lull. And they've finished launching the Iridium constellation. It looks like the industry is waiting to see how the new trend of LEO satellites pans out before committing to more GEO ones. The high cadence basically shows that reusing boosters saves time as well as money.

      The IPO won't happen for several years. It has nothing to do with their Starlink cadence. They are obliged to get their satellites up ASAP, else they could lose their frequency allocations. Also they do want it to start making money, which will happen (or not) whether or not there is an IPO. It's expected to be operational this summer, although service may be limited at first.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On what basis does Elon, peace be upon him, make the rather counterintuitive assertion that the albedo will reduce, how will putting more junk up reduce the current albedo?

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      He means about the albedo of the individual satellites, not the fleet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair, if the albedo of the individual satellites reduces, then the albedo of the fleet will reduce (given albedo is measured from 0 to 1).

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Musk could have made the albedo as near zero as makes no difference but that jerk Anish Kapoor wouldn't sell him any Vantablack.

  6. imanidiot Silver badge

    Starlink launched

    Starlink launched nearly uneventfully yesterday. The booster made a soft landing, just about 100 meters next to the barge, instead of ON the barge.. Details as to why are not available at this time.

    As to the Dragon/Starliner "race", there is no way in hell Starliner will launch with people aboard before Crew Dragon does. SpaceX is currently putting the final touches on the capsule and will then be putting the stack together, Most of what is left before they can roll it out, fuel it up and light the blue touchpaper is paperwork.

    Starliner on the other hand is a hot mess and more problems keep coming to light as they comb over the data from their borked test launch. With everything that's gone wrong there is a 50/50 chance NASA will have them do another dry run before they get man-rated (The only reason I can see them not do it is political pressure not to embarrass Boeing any further, to be honest)

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Starlink launched

      "The only reason I can see them not do it is political pressure not to embarrass Boeing any further, to be honest".

      That, to me, seems a very real and dangerous possibility. The string-pullers in the US would appear to be quite capable of sacrificing astronauts for their own ends.

    2. Brangdon

      Re: Starlink launched

      The plan had been for the Dragon astronauts to stay on ISS for only a week before returning. Now NASA is considering having them stay for months, so they can get some actual work done while they are up there and to avoid the US contingent being reduced to a single person. If the extended stay happens, the astronauts will need to be trained on the activities they will be doing. That will delay the Dragon 2 launch by several months.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Starlink launched

      Looks like we have at least one Boeing fanboy in the panels

  7. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    >SpaceX's next Starlink volley remains stuck on Earth

    Good. I can still see Uranus.

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