In another LEO Digital Forum panel, SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell says the company plans to start polar launches of Starlink satellites this summer. Hopes to have full global connectivity after 28 launches; after that additional satellites will add capacity.
Shotwell says SpaceX concerned about space sustainability. Worries about sats without propulsion: “When you’re flying a brick, that’s troublesome.”

Viasat’s Mark Dankberg: a satellite that has propulsion and fails is the same as one without propulsion.
Shotwell: no timeframe for ending the Starlink beta test. Still have a lot of work to make the network reliable.
GEO satellite executives expressing their skepticism about LEO constellations. Eutelsat’s Rodolphe Belmer says his company sees “no possibility” LEO constellations can meet all demand from unserved populations.
Shotwell’s response: “I always smile when people make projections on what can and cannot be done with technology.” She predicts that Starlink can serve every rural household in the US in 3-5 years.
Shotwell: Starlink terminal cost now less that half original $3,000. Expect to get that down to a few hundred dollars in a couple years.
Panel ends without addressing a near-term issue for Starlink: it’s fast approaching its current FCC authorization of ~1,600 satellites at 550 km. What happens if the FCC doesn’t soon approve SpaceX’s requested modification to allow more satellites at 550 km?

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More from @jeff_foust

19 Feb
At the NG-15 briefing, NASA says 75% chance of favorable weather for Antares/Cygnus launch tomorrow, 95% if slips to Sunday.
ISS program manager Joel Montalbano says it’s “too early to say” if the Falcon 9 booster failed landing this week will have any impacts on schedule for next commercial crew mission. NASA is talking with SpaceX about the landing anomaly to better understand any issues.
Montalbano says the synopsis NASA issued earlier this month about getting a seat on the April Soyuz flight closes today; can’t talk details while still open, but after today NASA will be ready to take next steps on this.
Read 4 tweets
19 Feb
NASA briefing on plans for a second Green Run static-fire test of the SLS is getting started. The test is scheduled for next Thursday, the 25th.
NASA’s Tom Whitmeyer says they are still on a path to launch Artemis-1 this year, but recognizes challenges ahead.
John Honeycutt, SLS program manager, says the core stage and RS-25 engines were in “excellent condition” after the first test; a “generational opportunity” to learn about the rocket while still in a test config.
Read 10 tweets
18 Feb
And it looks like that post-landing briefing is starting on NASA TV.
NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk said he got a phone call after landing from President Biden: “Congratulations, man.” Adds that the president wants to give thanks to the team in person soon.
With a successful landing, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, dramatically rips up the no-longer-needed contingency plan.
Read 14 tweets
18 Feb
Cruise stage separation; about 10 minutes before the spacecraft reaches the “entry interface” of the Martian atmosphere.
Perseverance now beginning its entry into the Martian atmosphere; seven minutes to landing. MRO is now relaying data from Perseverance. [All times, of course, Earth received time; one-way light travel time is nearly 11.5 minutes.]
Perseverance has deployed its parachute.
Read 11 tweets
18 Feb
The ASAP meeting is starting with a relatively high-level look at the “rapidly changing human spaceflight environment”, including a need for the agency to develop a strategic plan for its workforce and infrastructure needs.
A very deep discussion on risk management and coordination of NASA exploration programs, which are handled by two different offices (ELS, for SLS/Orion/ELS; and AES, for HLS/Gateway/lunar spacesuits). Lots of complexities and concerns about putting everything together.
ASAP chair Patricia Sanders says the committee is pleased NASA decided to do a second Green Run hotfire test to collect the needed data for the SLS core stage.
Read 6 tweets
17 Feb
At the ongoing Mars 2020 mission update, deputy project manager Matt Wallace says the spacecraft is ready, and “the team, I think, is ready.”
“This is not what scientists usually do,” project scientist Ken Farley says of the daily planning cycle of rover operations, a “very fast-paced, high-stakes” activity.
Wallace: we’ve never come up with a good way of calculating the probability of success for Mars landing; done as much as we can do ensure success, but never any guarantees.
Read 4 tweets

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