Eric Ralph
Eric Ralph
Senior spaceflight reporter at @teslarati he/himSource
Tacoma, WA
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SpaceX begins installing new 'Raptor 2' engines on Super Heavy booster

SpaceX begins installing new 'Raptor 2' engines on Super Heavy booster

SpaceX has begun installing new ‘Raptor 2’ engines on Super Heavy Booster 7 after the prototype completed a range of tests and returned to the company’s South Texas ‘Starbase’ rocket factory. Earlier this month, SpaceX transported Booster 7 (B7) in the opposite direction, returning the 67-meter (~220 ft) tall rocket to Starbase’s orbital launch site (OLS) for the second time after it was forced to head back to the factory for repairs. Repairs completed, SpaceX dove headfirst into the process of verifying that the booster had been returned to full health and immediately filled its tanks to...

May 19
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SpaceX COO says Starlink is just five launches away from "full global connectivity"

SpaceX COO says Starlink is just five launches away from "full global connectivity"

The day before SpaceX aced its eighth Starlink launch in three months, President and COO Gwynne Shotwell implied that the company’s constellation of satellites could achieve “full [global] connectivity” just a handful of months from now.Speaking at Satellite 2021’s “LEO Digital Forum” on April 6th, Shotwell revealed that SpaceX hopes to cross that milestone a few months after a total of 28 operational Starlink launches have been completed. Around 25 hours after her panel appearance, SpaceX launched its 490th Starlink satellite of the year, more or less wrapping up the first quarter of...

April 9, 2021
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SpaceX's Starship booster-catching 'launch tower' begins to take shape in Texas

SpaceX's Starship booster-catching 'launch tower' begins to take shape in Texas

Aerial photos show that SpaceX has rapidly begun building the first of two planned skyscraper-sized Starship ‘launch towers’ in South Texas – towers that could one day catch the Super Heavy boosters out of the air with huge arms.CEO Elon Musk first revealed that outlandish Starship booster recovery plan around the turn of the year, followed three months later by an even wilder claim that the same booster-catching tower could also catch Starships. Around the time the idea was first floated, SpaceX was beginning to build one of two planned towers that might be outfitted with arms in the...

April 1, 2021
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SpaceX reveals first photos of historic Crew Dragon capsule's astronaut cabin

SpaceX reveals first photos of historic Crew Dragon capsule's astronaut cabin

SpaceX has published the first photos of the interior of the US-built spacecraft scheduled to launch NASA astronauts for the first time in almost a decade. Set to lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than (NET) mid-to-late May, SpaceX is on the cusp of the most important and historic launch in its storied history. If things go as planned, Crew Dragon’s Demo-2 mission could make SpaceX the first company in history to launch humans into orbit with a privately-built rocket and spacecraft. Even more significantly, it will be the United States’ first domestic astronaut launch since Congress...

April 3, 2020
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SpaceX just finished its third Starship rocket in two months and a fourth is on the way

SpaceX just finished its third Starship rocket in two months and a fourth is on the way

SpaceX just rolled a completed Starship prototype to the launch pad for the third time in two months and began stacking the next rocket just hours after its assembly facilities were vacated.SpaceX began building the latest Starship prototype – known as serial number 4 (SN4) – around March 23rd. Exactly 31 days later, SpaceX lifted the vast steel rocket onto a Roll Lift transporter and carried it roughly a mile down the road to the company’s Boca Chica, Texas test and launch facilities. In just a few hours, technicians lifted the rocket off its transporter and onto a fixed launch mount made...

April 24, 2020
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SpaceX "DARKSAT" results: can Starlink and astronomy happily coexist?

SpaceX "DARKSAT" results: can Starlink and astronomy happily coexist?

Astronomers have begun to gather and analyze detailed observations of a SpaceX Starlink satellite prototype officially labeled DARKSAT and the initial results hint that the satellite constellation should be able to happily coexist with ground-based astronomy in the future.Since SpaceX began launching batches of 60 Starlink satellites in May 2019, the company has raised the ire of parts of the astronomy community and simultaneously awed and inspired many less technical observers with clusters of shooting star-like satellites that are easily visible after launches. While the mid-sized...

March 27, 2020
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SpaceX's first orbital Starship rocket engine is almost ready for testing

SpaceX's first orbital Starship rocket engine is almost ready for testing

CEO Elon Musk says that SpaceX is “about a month away” from testing a rocket engine that will be essential for Starship and its Super Heavy booster to reach their full potential.Known as Raptor Vacuum, the engine – as its name suggests – is a variant of the base Raptor engine optimized for maximum performance and efficiency in the vacuum of space. Although Starship could technically still function and likely reach orbit with only sea level-optimized Raptors installed, it would likely significantly limit the amount of payload it could carry into Earth orbit and would especially harm the...

May 4, 2020
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SpaceX Starship rocket gets new Raptor engine for Starhopper-style hop test debut

SpaceX Starship rocket gets new Raptor engine for Starhopper-style hop test debut

SpaceX has decided to install a different Raptor engine on its fourth full-scale Starship prototype in the buildup to the next-generation rocket’s inaugural flight test.Starship SN4 recently became the first prototype to pass a cryogenic proof test, followed by two successful Raptor engine static fire tests and an even more successful pressure test on May 9th. Set to occur as early as later this month, that string of successes means that Starship SN4 is now all but guaranteed to become the first prototype to take flight. According to photos and information from CEO Elon Musk and FCC...

May 11, 2020
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