September 25, 2016
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Falcon 9

Falcon 9 rocket explosion traced to upper stage helium system

September 23, 2016

The investigation into a dramatic Falcon 9 rocket explosion earlier this month at Cape Canaveral has determined a “large breach” in the launcher’s upper stage helium pressurization system led to the destruction of the booster and its $200 million satellite payload, SpaceX said Friday.

News Headlines

  • Out-of-control Chinese space lab expected to fall to Earth next year

    September 23, 2016

    China’s Tiangong 1 space lab, replaced by an upgraded human-rated research station launched last week, is heading for an uncontrolled re-entry back into Earth’s atmosphere in late 2017.

  • Smaller variants of Russia’s Proton rocket on the market

    September 22, 2016

    Khrunichev and International Launch Services, the team behind Russia’s Proton rocket, are developing two scaled-down versions of the booster in a bid to capture a wider share of the commercial launch market, the companies announced last week.

  • Ambitious space missions in small packages win free launch slots on Atlas 5

    September 22, 2016

    Student-built miniature satellites to demonstrate 3D printing to make repairs in space, a mission to study solar explosions hitting the Earth, a technology test for deorbiting smallsats and a precursor to a commemorative time capsule have won free launches into space aboard Atlas 5 rockets in United Launch Alliance’s first-ever cubesat challenge.

  • NASA to have limited role in SpaceX’s planned Mars campaign

    September 21, 2016

    Expertise, input and advice from seasoned NASA engineers will improve SpaceX’s chances of nailing the first commercial landing on Mars as soon as late 2018, a senior space agency official said Wednesday, but Elon Musk’s space transport company will likely seek more independence from U.S. government support on later expeditions to the red planet.

  • Officials target mid-October for first launch of upgraded Antares cargo rocket

    September 21, 2016

    Orbital ATK ground crews in Virginia are fueling the next Cygnus cargo freighter this week for launch toward the International Space Station in mid-October on the first flight of the company’s upgraded Antares rocket in two years.

  • Containment of Vandenberg wildfire begins as hundreds of firefighters battle

    September 21, 2016

    United Launch Alliance technicians were allowed to return to the Atlas 5 pad Tuesday as firefighters continued to wage air and ground campaigns against the wildfire burning at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

  • Uncontrolled wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base continues to rage

    September 20, 2016

    The escalating wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base grew even larger Monday despite the round-the-clock efforts of firefighters trying to bring the blaze under control before it threatens United Launch Alliance and SpaceX launch pads used by Atlas 5, Delta 4 and Falcon 9 rockets.

  • ULA moves to fill openings in Atlas 5 launch manifest

    September 19, 2016

    With U.S. military demand waning in coming years, United Launch Alliance has multiple openings in its Atlas 5 launch manifest in 2017 and 2018 available to commercial customers with as little as three months’ notice, according to company officials.

  • Russians delay next crew launch to station

    September 17, 2016

    The next launch of a Soyuz spacecraft carrying three space station fliers has been delayed indefinitely after testing at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan revealed an unspecified technical problem, the Russian space agency announced Saturday.

  • Photos: Gantry rolled back to reveal Atlas 5 rocket for launch

    September 16, 2016

    The 8-million-pound mobile service tower is retracted from around the Atlas 5 rocket, revealing the 189-foot-tall vehicle for liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, carrying the commercial WorldView 4 Earth-imaging satellite.