Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

NASA to launch its TESS Exoplanet Mission in a SpaceX Falcon 9

NASA to launch its TESS Exoplanet Mission in a SpaceX Falcon 9

The plan is expected to get approval from the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners Thursday, and SpaceX has already moved in some hardware, including a tooling for making carbon-fiber composites for the rocket's upper stage.

"This is gonna sound insane, but ..."

The Elon Musk-founded company landed its first Falcon 9 booster back on Earth in 2015, after years of development.

Musk, who also leads electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc and rocket company SpaceX, is seeking to revolutionise transportation by sending passengers packed into pods through an intercity system of giant, underground vacuum tubes known as the hyperloop.

In a series of tweets, the SpaceX boss described how the firm might use the novel technique to recover the upper stage - a crucial component of the rocket that carries a payload into orbit. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and COO, said in a statement. Musk has said he aspires to launch his first cargo missions to Mars in 2022. Yet they can not equal a landing using a giant party balloon, according to Musk.

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The giant party balloon technique has been used before although on a partial basis. Musk may be talking about a ballute, an inflatable parachute-like device that could look like a huge balloon.

"We already do targeted retro burn to a specific point in Pacific [with] no islands or ships, so [the] upper stage doesn't become a dead satellite", Musk wrote on Twitter. Recovery will require a new target closer to shore, within range of a catcher ship.

Ultimately, SpaceX will have around 200,000 square feet of space for working on BFR in the Port, though it won't be limiting itself to that space.

Increasingly competitive pricing - along with a reliable Falcon 9 rocket - have made SpaceX an attractive rocket vendor to the likes of NASA, private companies, and other nations.

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