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SpaceX aims to nail landing of Starship on fourth attempt
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Mar 26, 2021

SpaceX plans another attempt to fly and land the company's Starship moon and Mars rocket as early as Monday from Boca Chica, Texas.

The rocket company had filed for "no-fly" notices during daylight hours from Friday through Monday around the SpaceX launch facility in the community about 180 miles south of Corpus Christi.

SpaceX postponed an attempt Friday, with company CEO Elon Musk tweeting, "Standing down ... until probably Monday. Additional checkouts are needed. Doing our best to land & fully recover."

Previous test flights of the giant, stainless steel rocket ended in fireballs in December, February and March. The tests are part of SpaceX's rapid prototype development methods, which the company used to develop its highly successful Falcon rockets.

Starship is one of three spacecraft NASA has chosen as possible means to send astronauts back to the moon this decade. The space agency intends to choose two proposals for those crewed lunar missions by mid-2021.

The other two lunar lander contenders are Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Moon lander and a craft under development by Huntsville, Ala.-based Dynetics.

Dynetics' lander and Blue Moon would launch atop rockets under development, according to the companies involved. Those rockets would be United Launch Alliance's planned Vulcan and Bezos' New Glenn, which is under development by his space company Blue Origin.

SpaceX has entered the lunar competition with Starship as the only contestant planning a rocket and lander combination. To get to the moon, Starship would be launched atop an even larger booster, the Starship Super Heavy, which also is in prototype development in Texas.

"SN11 almost ready to fly," company founder Elon Musk said on Twitter on March 16, more than a week before the public notices. SN11 refers to Serial Number 11 or Starship Number 11 for the 11th such prototype built.

As with previous test flights, SpaceX plans to send Starship over 6 miles high before its three Raptor engines cut off and it glides downward.

After performing a flip maneuver, the rocket will attempt to restart the engines and land upright as it did earlier this month -- but without the subsequent explosion.

Light show over US sky likely SpaceX debris re-entering atmosphere
San Francisco (AFP) March 26, 2021 - A spectacular display of lights that streamed across the night sky over the US Pacific Northwest was probably debris from a SpaceX mission re-entering the atmosphere, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

"While we await further confirmation on the details, here's the unofficial information we have so far. The widely reported bright objects in the sky were the debris from a Falcon 9 rocket 2nd stage," NWS Seattle tweeted.

Videos posted on social media showed a thick cluster of glowing dots with blazing trails of light moving slowly across the sky before fizzling out, with users speculating the phenomenon might be a meteor shower or even, jokingly, an alien invasion.

Local media reported multiple sightings just after 9 pm local time, with videos posted online from Washington state and Oregon.

NWS Seattle said the sight was more likely to be caused by space debris rather than a meteor or similar object because the latter would be moving far faster, a conclusion backed up by several meteorologists quoted by local media.

Jonathan McDowell from Harvard's Center for Astrophysics also pointed to the Falcon 9 rocket stage as the source of the firework-like display.

"The Falcon 9 second stage from the Mar 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn and is now re-entering after 22 days in orbit," he tweeted, referring to a rocket launched on March 4 to carry 60 Starlink internet relay satellites into orbit.

A deorbit burn is a firing of a spacecraft's thrusters to slow the vehicle and begin its descent, according to NASA's website.

McDowell tweeted that while "we could predict this rocket stage would re-enter today", the speed at which it was travelling meant it was difficult to predict where it would be seen.

There were no immediate reports of damage, with NWS Seattle saying there were no expected impacts on the ground.

Related Links
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

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SpaceX launch sends 23rd Starlink communications satellite cluster
Washington DC (UPI) Mar 24, 2021
SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink broadband communications satellites before dawn on Wednesday, from Florida. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellites occurred at Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The weather was cooperative for the 23rd Starlink mission. "Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed," Space tweeted. "This was the sixth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously supported launch of GPS-III Space Vehicle ... read more

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