Falcon 9 rocket Current Affairs - 2019
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Elon Musk-led SpaceX has successfully launched 64 small satellites into low Earth orbit onboard of its reusable and preflown Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This has set new record in United States of launching satellites in single go. It was third voyage of Falcon 9 rocket, marking another milestone in SpaceX’s cost-cutting reusable rocket technology.
The 64 small satellites included 49 CubeSats and 15 micro-satellites belonging to 34 different clients including public, private and university sources from 17 different countries across the world including South Korea, France and Kazakhstan. The microsatellites weighed few dozen kilograms and CubeSats weighed even smaller. Among launched satellites, one was sculpture called “Orbital Reflector” by artist Trevor Paglen, sent by Nevada Museum of Art and it was not scientific missions.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) holds record for the most satellite launch in single flight. It had launched 104 satellites in one go using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) rocket.
It is private US space agency. It was founded by Elon Musk on May 6, 2002 who is its current CEO of Space X. Its main purpose for its establishment was to reduce cost of space transport and establish human habitation on Mars house. Space X has developed series of Falcon Rockets. To reduce cost of internal transport, the space company has created re-usable rockets. Majority of these rockets are also used in other launches.
Elon Musk-led SpaceX has successfully launched twin NASA satellites GRACE-FO (Follow-On) that will track Earth’s water Cycle i.e. water movement and icemelt. It was launched onbaord of SpaceX’s preflown Falcon 9 Rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US.
GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On)
GRACE-FO is joint project between National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ). It is follow-on mission to original GRACE mission, which had mapped Earth’s water and ice by measuring changes in Earth’s gravity field from 2002 to 2017.
GRACE-FO will pick up where GRACE left off to continue study of rising sea levels, melting of glaciers and polar ice caps and other changes in distribution of water on Earth. The two GRACE-FO satellites will orbit together at 490km altitude near-polar orbit, circling Earth every 90 minutes.
To measure Earth’s gravity, two satellites will orbit around Earth together, with one trailing behind other at distance of 220km. The instruments on board of these satellites are so sensitive that they can detect changes with precision of about 1 micrometer (i.e. about one-tenth of a human hair over long distance).
These satellites have payload called Laser Ranging Interferometer. It can precisely measure gravity field changes due to change in separation distance between two satellites, revealing information about what kinds of features they are flying over. Earth is not perfect sphere) different features, like mountains and oceans, across its surface, so gravitational pull exerted on these satellites is not consistent. When gravity field changes, separation between two satellites changes slightly.