Today’s Tidbits: October 30, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: October 30, 2017

Here are our tidbits for October 30, 2017:  SpaceX makes it 16 launches so far this year; NASA announces a briefing on OA-8’s ISS cargo; a new CNAS report on “A Space Policy for the Trump Administration.”  Be sure to check our website for feature articles and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

SpaceX Completes 16th Launch This Year, and Another Landing

Falcon 9 first stage lands on SpaceX drone ship Of Course I still Love You after sending Koresaat-5A into space, October 30, 2017. Screengrab.

SpaceX launched the Koreasat-5A communications satellite today with a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, FL.  The Falcon 9’s first stage then returned to a successful landing on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.

The video of the landing cut out a couple of times, which is not unusual. The image here was taken at an instant when it was working.  SpaceX tweeted that the first stage had landed, but has not tweeted any photos itself.

It was SpaceX’s 16th launch this year and at least two more are scheduled — a mysterious launch in November of the Zuma payload, which only recently became public, and its next cargo mission to the International Space Station in December.  Company founder Elon Musk also has said as recently as last month the first flight of the new Falcon Heavy rocket will take place this year.

SpaceX is determined to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of reusable rockets.  NASA’s space shuttle (1981-2011) was the first reusable space launch vehicle.  Its two solid rocket boosters and the shuttle orbiters were reusable.  Only the large, cylindrical external tank was disposable.  The costs of maintaining the system were very high, however, so while the technical feasibility was demonstrated, the shuttle did not show that reusable systems were cheaper than traditional, expendable rockets.

Today’s landing was SpaceX’s 12th on one of its two drone ships (the other is named Just Follow the Instructions) and it landed another seven back on terra firma at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL —  19 successful landings out of 24 attempts.  Three of those first stages have been reflown for various customers, all successfully.

NASA Announces Media Telecon on Orbital ATK’s OA-8 Upcoming Cargo Mission to ISS

An Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft next to the International Space Station (ISS). Credit: NASA.

NASA announced today that it will hold a media teleconference on Thursday at 1:00 pm ET to discuss the science experiments and technology demonstrations that will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) by Orbital ATK’s 8th cargo mission to the ISS — OA-8.  It will be livestreamed at

Orbital ATK and SpaceX are the two “commercial cargo” contractors to NASA for sending cargo to the ISS under the first Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.  NASA awarded a second round of contracts, CRS2, that adds Sierra Nevada Corporation and its Dream Chaser spacecraft as a third supplier, but none of those have taken place yet.

Orbital ATK will launch its Cygnus spacecraft on the company’s Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops Island, VA this time.  (Sometimes they use United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rockets to launch from Florida instead.)   Weather permitting, there should be good views of the launch along the mid-Atlantic seaboard.  The launch is scheduled for 7:37 am ET on November 11.

Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Has Space Advice for Trump Administration

The Washington think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report today making recommendations on “A Space Policy for the Trump Administration.”

Authors Jerry Hendrix and Adam Routh, whose backgrounds are in the military, argue for “significant changes in the nation’s interpretation and enforcement of international laws that apply to space activities, increased focus in the U.S. civil space program on identifying resource and settlement opportunities, expansion and freeing of the commercial space sector to fully harness the resources and wealth of space, and strengthening national security infrastructure in space both to protect the nation’s interests there and to support ongoing military operations on Earth.”

Hendrix is the Director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at CNAS and a retired Navy Captain with an extensive background in naval force structure.  Routh is a research associate at CNAS and former Army Ranger.

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Note: This article was updated once SpaceX confirmed to us via email that the Falcon 9 first stage landing was indeed successful.

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