Today’s Tidbits: October 11, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: October 11, 2017

Here are our tidbits for today, October 11, 2017:  the Moon once had an atmosphere; Moon Express teams with NanoRacks; SpaceX scores another launch and landing success. Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

The Moon Once Had an Atmosphere! reports that scientists at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Universities Space Research Association’s (USRA’s) Lunar and Planetary Institute have determined that the Moon once had an atmosphere. It was a really long time ago, 3-4 billion years, when volcanoes were spewing gases so quickly that they couldn’t escape and formed a transient atmosphere. Learn more at

Moon Express Teams with NanoRacks

Moon Express and NanoRacks announced yesterday a partnership for getting small payloads to the lunar surface. Moon Express is developing a family of small lunar landers.  The first is scheduled for launch by Rocket Lab from its launch site in New Zealand next year. NanoRacks is probably best known for arranging travel for cubesats to the International Space Station (ISS) for deployment from Japan’s Kibo module, but also is engaged in a growing range of other commercial space endeavors.  In this case, NanoRacks will provide global sales, marketing, management, and technical support to Moon Express, whose Founder and CEO, Bob Richards, said the goal is “to ensure a great customer experience.”

SpaceX Launches Second Mission in Three Days

Landing of Falcon 9 first stage from SpaceX launch of SES-11/Echostar 105 on October 11 2017. It landed on SpaceX’s autonomous space drone ship Of Course I Still Love You. Screengrab from SpaceX webcast.

SpaceX successfully launched the SES-11/Echostar 105 satellite to geostationary transfer orbit from LC-39 at Kennedy Space Center this evening.   It is the company’s second launch in three days (it launched 10 Iridium Next satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday) and its 15th launch this year.

SpaceX is determined to demonstrate the technical and financial viability of reusable rockets.  The first stage of this Falcon 9 rocket was “pre-flown” or used, having already launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station for NASA in February.  Tonight, it also returned safely to a landing on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship Of Course I Still Love You stationed in the Atlantic Ocean several hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral, FL.  This was the 18th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage either on land or on a drone ship, and the third launch using a pre-flown first stage.

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