Michael Sheetz Profile picture
Space Reporter @CNBC | DM for Signal | pitches michael.sheetz@nbcuni.com | formerly @DJNF @ESTribune | alumnus @TheKingsCollege
7 Dec 21
Elon Musk, at the WSJ CEO Council, says "Starship is a hard, hard, hard, hard project."

"This is a profound revolution in access to orbit. There has never been a fully reusable launch vehicle. This is the holy grail of space technology."
Musk adds that Starship "absorbs more of my mental energy than probably any other single thing."

"But it is so preposterously difficult, that there are times where I wonder whether we can actually do this."
Musk: "I am overdue for doing a Starship update."
Read 4 tweets
6 Dec 21
NASA announces the 2021 class of 10 astronaut candidates:

Nichole Ayers
Marcos Berríos
Christina Birch
Deniz Burnham
Luke Delaney
Andre Douglas
Jack Hathaway
Anil Menon
Christopher Williams
Jessica Wittner
Nichole Ayers, 32, is a U.S. Air Force major from Colorado, with more than 200 combat hours – and one of the few women currently flying the F-22 fighter jet.
Marcos Berríos, 37, is a U.S. Air Force major from Puerto Rico, and is a helicopter test pilot who holds degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT and Stanford.
Read 11 tweets
2 Dec 21
SpaceX is ~10 minutes away from launching its next Starlink mission, as well as a pair of BlackSky $BKSY satellites.

This is the 9th launch for this specific Falcon 9 rocket booster.

SpaceX has launched "over 200 rideshare payloads to orbit" this year, @andytran_sm says.
@andytran_sm Liftoff for Falcon 9
Read 6 tweets
2 Dec 21
NASA is hosting a media briefing on the CLD awards, with:

–NASA's Phil McAlister & Angela Hart
–Blue Origin's Brent Sherwood
–Sierra Space's Janet Kavandi
–Voyager's Jeffrey Manber
–Northrop Grumman's Rick Mastracchio

McAlister: "Today marks an exciting new chapter in the development of the LEO economy."
McAlister: "NASA was very pleased to have received 11 proposals" for the CLD contracts, and "almost all of the proposals represented viable concepts."
Read 23 tweets
2 Dec 21
NASA awards three companies with over $400 million in contracts to develop private space stations, under the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) project:

Nanoracks – $160 million

Blue Origin – $130 million

Northrop Grumman – $125.6 million
Nanoracks, with Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin, is building Starlab – which aims to be operational in orbit by 2027.

Blue Origin and Sierra Space – with Boeing, Redwire, and Genesis Engineering – is building Orbital Reef.

The companies plan to have the baseline configuration of Orbital Reef operational by 2027, which it will build into the next decade:
cnbc.com/2021/12/02/nas… $BA $RDW
Read 5 tweets
2 Dec 21
I spoke to Rocket Lab CEO @Peter_J_Beck after today's Neutron rocket update, and learned more about the company's plans.

Thread: $RKLB
@Peter_J_Beck Rocket Lab is still targeting Neutron on the launchpad by 2024, and hopes to launch a commercial customer on the rocket by 2025.
@Peter_J_Beck Beck declined to comment on the price tag of a Neutron launch, but said the rocket “would be a pointless exercise” if Rocket Lab “didn’t think that we would be very cost competitive with with anything that’s currently in the market or or being proposed.”
Read 11 tweets
2 Dec 21
Rocket Lab $RKLB is giving a major update on its planned larger Neutron rocket at 8 a.m. ET, providing the first details about the reusable vehicle since announcing the company was going public.

Watch the livestream:
$RKLB Neutron event starting now:
CEO @Peter_J_Beck: "Where do you start designing a new rocket? Ironically, you don't start at the rocket. You start at the satellite and all the spacecraft you need to launch, and then you start the design process around that."
Read 9 tweets
1 Dec 21
The first meeting of the National Space Council in the Biden administration, with @VP Kamala Harris leading, has begun.

Sen. @CaptMarkKelly, an astronaut, kicks things off.

Watch the livestream:
@VP @CaptMarkKelly Kelly: "As we've seen in recent weeks and months, the threats to U.S. national security and commercial assets in space are real, and these threats will undoubtedly grow in the years to come."
@VP @CaptMarkKelly Harris speaking now, thanking Kelly for his dedication and "life of service."
Read 16 tweets
30 Nov 21
Elon Musk, in a company-wide email obtained by CNBC, said SpaceX's Raptor engine program is "a disaster" and in "crisis":

"We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year."
Musk sent the update on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and said he had planned to take the holiday off but would be personally working on the Raptor production line through the weekend.
The email provides more context to the significance of former propulsion VP Will Heltlsey's departure, who CNBC reported was taken off Raptor development earlier this month:
Read 6 tweets
23 Nov 21
Rocket Lab is hosting a press conference with CEO Peter Beck to discuss the company's most recent Electron booster recovery and its progress on reusing rockets:

Thread: $RKLB
@RocketLab @Peter_J_Beck Beck: "The point of this flight was to test a few different technologies, but we also introduced helicopters for the first time."
@RocketLab @Peter_J_Beck Beck: The next recovery flight will be one where we catch the Electron booster with the helicopter. $RKLB
Read 20 tweets
23 Nov 21
Tonight SpaceX is scheduled to launch the DART mission for NASA – a first of its kind planetary defense test, with a spacecraft that will intentionally smash into an asteroid:

"This is just the coolest mission."
The DART spacecraft was built by @JHUAPL, with @RedwireSpace contributing the navigation system and two roll-out solar arrays, while @ASI_spazio built the LICIACube satellite that will image the collision.

Here's a video overview: cnbc.com/2021/11/23/spa… $RDW
@JHUAPL @RedwireSpace @ASI_spazio After launching, the DART spacecraft will spend 10 months traveling to a pair of asteroids, Didymos and Dimorphos.

Then, in September or October of 2022, DART will smash into the smaller Dimorphos at about 15,000 miles per hour:
Read 4 tweets
22 Nov 21
Scoop – SpaceX has had some recent changes to leadership of its rocket business, with a pair of VPs and a senior director leaving the company, sources told CNBC:
VP of propulsion Will Heltsley has left, sources said, having been with the company since 2009 – Heltsley was taken off Raptor due to a lack of progress, demonstrating the intense pressure given the engine's importance to Starship.
On the SpaceX mission and launch operations team, VP Lee Rosen and senior director Ricky Lim both left – with Rosen having been there since 2013 and Lim since 2008.
Read 4 tweets
22 Nov 21
Astra CEO Chris @Kemp and chief engineer @benjaminblyon are speaking now to reporters about the company reaching orbit.

Thread: $ASTR Image
@Kemp @benjaminblyon Kemp: "We're now focusing on delivering for our customers and scaling up the production and the launch cadence of our system – behind me is actually launch vehicle 0008."
@Kemp @benjaminblyon Kemp says Astra "will be sharing more soon on our schedule for the launch" of LV0008
Read 13 tweets
18 Nov 21
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims releases its opinion on the Blue Origin HLS lawsuit ruling, saying that the company "does not have standing because it did not have a substantial chance of award" and, even if it did have standing, "it would lose on merits:"
This opinion is the context to the judge's ruling in Blue Origin's lawsuit earlier this month:
The administrative record for this case was 135,000 pages, and Blue Origin argued that still "documents were missing."
Read 9 tweets
17 Nov 21
Elon Musk says that SpaceX hopes to complete work on the Starbase launch pad and launch tower "later this month," with more tests in December and "hopefully" an orbital Starship launch attempt in January.
Musk: "In order for life become multiplanetary we'll need maybe 1000 ships or something like that."
Musk emphasizes that NASA selected Starship for the HLS program: "Because of the mass transport capabilities ... to actually have a permanently occupied base on the Moon."
Read 24 tweets
15 Nov 21
NASA's Inspector General projects the Artemis 1 mission will not launch until "summer 2022," while delays on the HLS program and new spacesuit development mean it will be "several years" later than expected until the agency lands astronauts on the Moon: oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-22-003… Image
The OIG report comes a week after NASA officially delayed Artemis III, the crewed lunar landing, to 2025:
IG also projects the first four SLS missions with Orion will cost NASA "$4.1 billion per launch." Image
Read 6 tweets
11 Nov 21
SpaceX updated the Starlink website with new images of a rectangular user terminal (satellite dish):
@SpaceX @SpaceXStarlink Differences between the circular and rectangular Starlink user terminals:
@SpaceX @SpaceXStarlink The rectangular Starlink accessories guide gives details on 5 mounting options, including an ~4 ft long "ground pole:"

Read 6 tweets
11 Nov 21
NASA is hosting a Crew-3 post-launch press briefing, with:

-Assoc. admin @KathyLueders
-Commercial Crew manager Steve Stich
-ISS manager Joel Montalbano
-SpaceX director of Dragon mission management Sarah Walker

@KathyLueders Lueders: "We had a little bit of a curveball that we had to work through and the team carefully assessed and restructured the plan and worked out the different options for Crew-2 and Crew-3."
@KathyLueders Stich says Crew Dragon Endurance is "doing really well," with the nosecone open now.
Read 18 tweets
11 Nov 21
Jeff Bezos is speaking now at the Washington National Cathedral in DC, for an event titled "Our Future in Space."

Bezos: "I've always wanted to turn the Earth into sort of a national park or something, zoned light industry and residential, and I think most heavy industry will be done off in space."
Bezos: "I'm actually spending even more money on the Bezos Earth Fund than I'm spending on space."
Read 19 tweets
9 Nov 21
NASA is hosting an update on its lunar Artemis program, with:

Admin @SenBillNelson
Deputy admin @Astro_Pam
Assoc. admin @KathyLueders
Assoc. admin @JimFree

@SenBillNelson @Astro_Pam @KathyLueders @JimFree Nelson begins by saying he spoke to SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell last Friday after the HLS lawsuit ruling.

"The decision by the court ... means progress for the Artemis program."
@SenBillNelson @Astro_Pam @KathyLueders @JimFree Nelson: "Before we can give a detailed look at the HLS readiness timeframe, I want to give a shout out to our legal team as well as to the Department of Justice lawyers."
Read 12 tweets
9 Nov 21
Stealthy alternative rocket builder SpinLaunch conducted the successful first test flight of its one-third scale suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America in New Mexico last month.

Read more: cnbc.com/2021/11/09/spi…
@spinlaunch @Spaceport_NM @kleinerperkins @AirbusVentures @MckCapital SpinLaunch CEO Jonathan Yaney:

“This is about building a company and a space launch system that is going to enter into the commercial markets with a very high cadence and launch at the lowest cost in the industry."
@spinlaunch @Spaceport_NM @kleinerperkins @AirbusVentures @MckCapital SpinLaunch plans to conduct ~30 suborbital test flights over the next six to eight months, with the company now finalizing the design and launch site location for its planned orbital accelerator.
Read 4 tweets