UFO Buster Radio News – 402: SpaceX Successful SN5 Hop…Now What?, Virgin Update and 500 Mil in USA To Test UFO on a Stick
SpaceX Starship prototype takes big step toward Mars with first tiny ‘hop’
It looks like a floating tin can, but the test article known as SN5 may really be providing a glimpse of the future.
The company performed an almost 500-foot (150-meter) “hop” of its SN5 Starship prototype at its Boca Chica development facility Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. PT.
The nearly nine-story-tall test craft ignited its single Raptor engine and slowly rose into the air before then gently returning to the ground and landing upright not far from where it took off.
For a moment after the engine first ignited, it looked as if SN5 was struggling to get airborne, but then it rose above its own smoke, hovered and came in for a soft landing. It traveled just a tiny fraction of the more than 35 million miles Musk hopes the final Starship will traverse to take humans to Mars.
The long-awaited low-altitude test flight comes after a handful of previous prototypes failed without ever leaving the ground, mostly during pressurization tests.
SN5 is designed to be able to perform an orbital flight, but before pushing toward space, it first had to complete this comparatively tiny hop.
The roughly 98-foot-tall (30 meter) vehicle is a stripped-down version of what the final Starship spacecraft will look like, without the nose cone or fins.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX: We now want to bring Starlink internet from space to 5 million in US
SpaceX asks to operate 5 million end-user terminals after the US approves Amazon’s rival satellite broadband plan.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has applied for a license to roll out five million ‘UFO on a stick’ end-user terminals, after 700,000 US residents signed up to be updated about the service’s availability.
“SpaceX seeks to increase the number of fixed earth stations authorized under this blanket license from 1,000,000 to 5,000,000,” the company said in an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
SpaceX told the FCC it is applying for five million end-user terminals “due to the extraordinary demand for access to the Starlink non-geostationary orbit satellite system”.
The invite was opened as part of SpaceX’s plan to launch the Starlink public beta in North America in the coming month, by which time it will have put into orbit just 600 of the 12,000 satellites the FCC has approved for launch.
“Despite the fact that SpaceX has yet to formally advertise this system’s services, nearly 700,000 individuals represented in all 50 states signed up over a matter of just days to register their interest in said services at www.starlink.com,” SpaceX said in its new application.
Elon Musk has said SpaceX needs about 400 Starlink satellites to provide “minor” coverage and 800 for “moderate” coverage in North America. He’s also said that Starlink will cater to just 3% to 4% of the population in unserved and underserved areas, but that it would not be suitable for dense urban environments due to bandwidth limitations.
Virgin Galactic delays commercial SpaceShipTwo spaceflights until 2021
Virgin Galactic passengers will have to wait until at least 2021 for the first flight opportunities.
Before passengers climb aboard the suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo, the space tourism firm will send at least two powered test spaceflights aloft from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, where the company moved earlier this year. Virgin performed two glide tests at the spaceport this spring, after the novel coronavirus pandemic erupted.
In its quarterly results call held on Monday (Aug. 3), the space tourism firm stated that the pandemic “slowed the company’s pace” for the first operational spaceflight due to new health and safety procedures, in line with guidelines from local and state health officials as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The plan for now, Virgin said, is for the first powered spaceflight to leave Spaceport America this fall. That mission will only carry two test pilots, no passengers. If that outing goes well, Virgin will initiate a second spaceflight from Spaceport America, carrying two test pilots and four mission specialists to evaluate the performance of the customer cabin.
Also in February, Virgin announced it planned to resume selling tickets shortly; the company entered a ticket sale hiatus in December 2018 after VSS Unity, the latest version of SpaceShipTwo, reached space in a test flight. In February, Virgin launched a “One Small Step” qualification program through which would-be passengers could pay a refundable $1,000 deposit to be called first when reservations resume.
The most recent ticket price for SpaceShipTwo was $250,000, but Virgin Galactic has not yet revealed what seats will cost when they go on sale again.
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