The 60 satellites SpaceX is set to launch Wednesday night, beginning the build-out of a broadband network of orbiting spacecraft that could eventually number thousands, are based on a new flat-panel design, with krypton-fueled plasma thrusters, high-power antennas, and a capability to autonomously steer away from other objects in space.
Relativity Space’s co-founder and chief executive says his company is working on innovations in manufacturing and rocket technology, and plans to use 3D printing at unprecedented scale in the space industry to ease access to space for a range of satellite operators, joining a fray of smallsat launchers saturating the market.
The U.S. Air Force has committed $109 million in funding to advance development of new rockets designed by United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman, leaving out SpaceX in a government investment round that will lead to the military’s selection of two long-term launch providers in late 2019 or 2020.
After making landfall in South Florida, Hurricane Irma moved north over the state before losing strength and being downgraded to a tropical storm. NASA safety officials report the Kennedy Space Center lost electricity and water pressure during the storm, but a team of emergency personnel at the spaceport is safe.