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SpaceX

— Space

SpaceX static firing test of Falcon 9

SpaceX has announced that its Falcon 9 rocket may head back into space on Sunday after being grounded for nearly six months due to a mid-air explosion. The improved version of the booster carried out a static test firing on Friday at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in preparation for the mission to send 11 Orbcomm OG-2 communication satellites into low Earth orbit. If the results of the test prove positive, the launch will go forward on December 20.

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SpaceX selects 124 engineering teams to do battle in Hyperloop pod design competition

SpaceX itself might not be building Elon Musk's Hyperloop, but it is making every effort to push things along. Earlier this year it announced the construction of a 1-mile (1.6-km) test track and it has now invited over 120 engineering teams to show off design concepts for a Hyperloop pod to a panel of judges in January. The most promising will then put their human-scale prototypes through their paces at SpaceX HQ the following US summer.

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— Space

Elon Musk announces December 19 launch date for next Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX is heading back into orbit with founder and CEO Elon Musk announcing that a Falcon 9 rocket launch is scheduled for December 19. The improved version of the rocket is set to lift off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and will carry 11 Orbcomm OG-2 communication satellites into low Earth orbit. This marks the first flight of the Falcon 9 since the June 28 mid-air explosion of the CRS-7 mission shortly after launch.

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— Space

NASA orders first manned Dragon mission

NASA has ordered the first mission by SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft to ferry astronauts from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. This is the second mission planned with a private company under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts, which guarantees at least four such orders with two companies. The launch is scheduled for late 2017.

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— Space

SpaceIL buys "ticket to the moon" for Google XPrize

An Israeli team has become the first to produce a "verified launch contract" as part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. To win the competition, privately funded teams must land an exploratory robot on the moon by Dec. 31, 2017. SpaceIL's lunar effort would become the first private mission to the moon, as well the first from Israel.

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— Space

NASA selects astronauts for first US commercial launch

NASA has announced the names of the first astronauts to ride into space aboard the first generation of commercial spacecraft that will return manned launch capabilities to American soil. With the selection process complete, the astronauts are set to begin a stringent training program in preparation for the 2017 launch of Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft.

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