My Life on the Road: Accidental Rocket Sighting

In April, my wife and I returned from a few months in Mexico, to Texas. We were planning on hanging around until the end of the month before driving back up to Canada. On a particularly hot day, we thought it'd be nice to take our pooch to the beach so that she could cool off. Landlocked as we were, in Mission, we opted to drive east, to the coast. We considered South Padre Island, but seeing the traffic thicken the closer we got, we opted out at the last minute. Instead, on the advice of a fella we met while pulled over for a few licks of an ice cream, we set our Garmin to direct us to Boca Chica. The beach was beautiful, we were told, and no one cares if your dog plays the goof, provided she doesn't bother anyone else.

We were sold.

It wasn't a long drive, but it was a damn flat one. When we arrive in south Texas each year, I'm always thrilled to see the scrub brush, flatlands and palm trees. It's a completely alien world compared to what I grew up with in Canada. By the time we're getting ready to head north, I long for mountains. As the miles down the lone road to Boca Chica clicked by, I starting to whine that I knew what would be around the next corner... it would be flat and dry, with just a hint of dust, just as with the last corner we'd whipped around. Read the rest

Astronaut's magnificent photo of SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaching the International Space Station

NASA astronaut Anne McClain captured this astonishing image of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaching her temporary residence, the International Space Station. "The dawn of a new era in human spaceflight," McClain tweeted with the photo.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon, containing supplies rather than humans for this test, docked at the ISS yesterday morning and the hatch was opened a few hours ago. From NASA:

(The mission, called) Demo-1 is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership. The mission also marks a significant step toward returning to the nation the capability to launch astronauts on a U.S.-built spacecraft from U.S. soil.

“It’s an exciting evening,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said after the launch. “What today really represents is a new era in spaceflight. We’re looking forward to being one of many customers in a robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit.”

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Elon Musk's SpaceX plans NASA test launch Saturday

NASA and SpaceX have completed thousands of hours of tests to prepare for this unmanned test flight to the International Space Station.

SpaceX laid off 10% of its employees

Elon Musk's SpaceX let go 10% of its 6,000 person staff today. In May of last year, the company stated that it has had "many years" of continuing profitability and in recent weeks raised $273 million so far in a planned $500 million funding round.

"To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company," SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell wrote in an email to employees. "Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team..."

From the Los Angeles Times:

SpaceX makes most of its money from commercial and national security satellite launches, as well as two NASA contracts, one a multibillion-dollar deal to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and the other up to $2.6 billion to develop a capsule that will deliver astronauts to the space station. The first launch of that capsule, without a crew, is planned for February.

The Elon Musk-led company has even more ambitious — and expensive — plans. Musk has said SpaceX will conduct a “hopper test” of its Mars spaceship prototype as early as next month...

SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email.

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Elon Musk is back on his weird tweets again

I regret to inform you that Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is back on his inappropriate for a CEO tweets again. Read the rest

Gorgeous time-lapse video of Sunday night's SpaceX launch

On Sunday evening, SpaceX launched a satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Visual Burrito created this beautiful time-lapse, 4K video of the spectacle in the sky.

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SpaceX reveals first moon passenger: Yusaku Maezawa, Japanese fashion billionaire

Elon Musk's SpaceX revealed the name of the person who is set to become the first private space tourist to travel to the moon: Yusaku Maezawa. Read the rest

Videos of last night's SpaceX launch

It's an ISS supply run, but what a beautiful boat. Check out the plume -- "Holy Cow, look at that thing!" -- in this clip:

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NASA photographer's camera cooked by last week's SpaceX rocket launch

Senior NASA photographer Bill Ingalls apparently set up his Canon EOS 5DS at an unlucky spot near yesterday's SpaceX rocket launch. He placed it outside the pad perimeter yet the launch sparked a small brush fire that cooked the camera. "I had many other cameras much closer to the pad than this and all are safe," Ingalls wrote.

Fortunately, the SD cards didn't melt and he was able to access the final photos taken by the camera before its untimely death. Two of them are below.

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#StarMan: Watch live views of Elon Musk's SpaceX 'pilot' driving Tesla Roadster in Space

We were promised flying cars, and we finally pretty much got 'em. Elon Musk, Tesla, and SpaceX's 'Live Views of Starman' is the first car commercial broadcast in real time from space. Read the rest

#FalconHeavy success: SpaceX launches world's biggest rocket

UPDATE: THEY DID IT. It couldn't have gone more perfectly. Read the rest

Billion-dollar spy satellite 'Zuma' lost in failed SpaceX mission

A secret American spy satellite code-named Zuma didn't reach orbit in Sunday's failed SpaceX rocket launch. The cost of the missing U.S. government asset, which officially doesn't exist and officially hasn't been lost, is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

The highly classified payload is “presumed to be a total loss.” Read the rest

A stunning timelapse of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch flying over Arizona

Last Friday night, my Facebook feed blew up with images of "UFOs." It took a beat before my concerned SoCal friends got the news that the big illuminated streak they saw across the sky was actually Elon Musk's latest rocket launch on its way to space, and not something nefarious.

Shortly after, my brother Andrew texted me in excitement from Arizona, saying that he and his family had caught the rocket launch from Scottsdale. I was surprised to hear that it was visible in Arizona, as I had already learned it was launched from Vandenberg in California.

Then today I came across this gorgeous timelapse video shot by photographer Jesse Watson and I can see what all the fuss was about.

Watson writes:

This particular launch was close to my hometown in Yuma, Arizona, roughly 400 miles away but perfectly viewable for people in Arizona. I’ve one previous rocket launch years ago from White Sands Missile range in the morning time at sunrise and knew with the correct lighting from sunset that this launch had the opportunity to pop in a dramatic fashion.

I scouted four locations that had foregrounds to add depth to the imagery and was uniquely inspiring to my hometown. Location choices were between a favorite local hiking mountain, the Imperial Sand Dunes, or a small hill that resides in the historic downtown area overlooking the city. I ended up choosing the location that overlooked the city, partially because it was the easiest to access with all of my time-lapse gear.

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Mars Needs Elon

Elon Musk is going to colonize Mars and has produced a science-fiction extravaganza to prove it. Read the rest

Elon Musk posts image of working SpaceX spacesuit, teases more

SpaceX has been hard at work designing a stylish and comfortable working spacesuit. Following testing of the suit prototypes, Elon Musk has unveiled a first look. Read the rest

Watch SpaceX's rocket land itself

There's something so uncanny and futuristic about Falcon 9 landing that it triggers the part of our brains trained to be on the lookout for computer graphics. The overcast sky and haze of fog gives it a Simon Stålenhag vibe. Read the rest

Kim Stanley Robinson says Elon Musk's Mars plan is a "1920s science-fiction cliché"

Kim Stanley Robinson, whose seminal Mars trilogy (coming soon to TV?) changed the way we talk about our neighboring planet, says that Musk's Mars colonization plan "is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his back yard." Read the rest

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