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Musk: SpaceX Set For Over 300 missions in Five Years

According to Musk, the huge new rocket would be nearly 350 feet tall and span 30 feet in diameter

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Elon Musk, tesla, tunnel
AI could be first 'resident' of Mars, hints Musk. (Wikimedia Commons)

After an updated version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral carrying Bangladesh’s first communications satellite into orbit, its Founder and CEO Elon Musk on Sunday said his company is set for over 300 missions in five years.

The “Block 5” booster, the final substantial upgrade to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle, was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre on its maiden flight on Friday.

The rocket’s first stage was successfully recovered, landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” offshore droneship, about eight minutes after the launch, at an unmanned platform vessel in the Pacific Ocean.

“SpaceX will probably build 30 to 40 rocket cores for 300 missions over 5 years. Then the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) takes over & Falcon retires. Goal of BFR is to enable anyone to move to moon, Mars & eventually outer planets,” Musk tweeted on Sunday.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The “Block-5” booster is designed to be capable of 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment as SpaceX continues to strive for rapid reusability and extremely high reliability,

“Rate at which things are getting more bizarre appears to be increasing. In the future, it will seem bizarre that we used to crash rockets into the ocean instead of reusing them,” Musk added.

Also Read: NASA Is Sending a Helicopter to Mars in 2020

Falcon 9 rocket, aiming to bring astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the future, came with many design changes to improve its reusability and reliability. Those changes may make engineers easier to refurbish its first stages for more flights.

The new rocket has improved its helium tanks submerged in liquid oxygen propellant tanks in the second stage. The helium tanks were ruptured in a pre-launch test on September 1, 2016, causing an explosion.

The Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, which will be used to explore Mars — a goal that Musk hopes to accomplish by 2022 — will be built in the Port of Los Angeles.

Representational image.
Representational Image, VOA

According to media reports, the LA Board of Harbor Commissioners gave its unanimous approval to permit SpaceX to build the BFR Mars rocket at a new facility on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles.

The report said the new rocket manufacturing facility would be built on a 19-acre parcel on the mostly artificial island that’s part of the port. The facility would provide employment to as many as 700 people, according to SpaceX.

Also Read: SpaceX Launches New Falcon 9 Block 5 Rocket

According to Musk, the huge new rocket would be nearly 350 feet tall and span 30 feet in diameter.

Last month, NASA’s next planet-hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess), was successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Tess is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, including some that could support life. (IANS)

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China Exchanged Data With NASA On Its Recent Mission To Moon

The country has also said that it will welcome scientists and astronauts from around the world to make use of its space station, which is slated for completion by 2022.

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Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the national space agency, speaks during a press conference held in Beijing, China, Jan. 14, 2019. VOA

China exchanged data with NASA on its recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency said Monday, in what was reportedly the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval.

The space agency’s deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang’e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to land on the far side of the moon earlier this month.

China in turn shared the time and coordinates of Chang’e 4’s scheduled landing, Wu told reporters during a briefing on the lunar mission. He added that while NASA’s satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward.

The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 U.S. law was enacted.

Moon, China
The far side of the moon, photographed by the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, is seen in this image provided by China National Space Administration, Jan. 3, 2019. VOA

NASA has not published any statements on the collaboration and could not immediately be reached for comment.

The lunar mission by Chang’e 4 and its rover, Jade Rabbit 2, was a triumph for China’s growing space program, which has been rapidly catching up with those of Russia and the U.S. President Xi Jinping has placed space exploration among the country’s national development priorities and the far side mission offered a chance for China to do something not done before by any other country.

The far side of the moon – the side which faces away from Earth – posed a challenge for scientists because it is beyond radio signals’ reach. China set up a relay satellite in May to receive communication from Chang’e 4.

“In the past, we were always rushing to catch up to the advanced global standards” in space, said Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China’s lunar exploration project.

“There were many things to catch up on, and fewer things in which we could surpass others,” he said. “With the probe of the far side of the moon this time, Chinese people have done very well.”

China, Moon
This picture taken Jan. 3, 2019, and received, Jan. 4, from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS shows a robotic lunar rover on the far side of the moon. VOA

Officials at the briefing declined to give specific figures on the costs of the space program.

Wu Yanhua said the Chang’e 4 was originally built as a “backup product” for Chang’e 3. He said the spending needed to refit it for its new objective was akin to repairing a short section of subway line.

Also Read: NASA Telescopes Capture Birth of Black Hole or Neutron Star

Around the end of this year, China plans to launch Chang’e 5, which is to collect and bring back samples from the near side of the moon, the first time that has been done since 1976. Scientists are still researching whether to send Chinese astronauts, Wu said.

The country has also said that it will welcome scientists and astronauts from around the world to make use of its space station, which is slated for completion by 2022. (VOA)