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Space Launches

Space launches and landings were a record in 2020d, and many more will happen in 2021. SpaceX continues to break records and do amazing things. On Sunday, January 24 at 10:00am, Falcon 9 launched Transporter-1, SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster had previously been launched into space five times. Following stage separation, the booster landed on a SpaceX droneship, stationed off the coast of Florida. The two fairing halves were also retrieved in huge nets mounted on SpaceX ships in the Atlantic. SpaceX now routinely does things long considered impossible by space scientists. SpaceX returns rockets to soft landings on Earth instead of ditching the boosters into the ocean as NASA has done for decades.

On board this launch were 133 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles) and 10 Starlink satellites – the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission. You can watch a replay of the mission here.

The Quest to Understand Mars

The biggest thing will be the landing of the Perseverance spacecraft on February 18. China and UAE will also have landings on Mars this month. We can also look forward to test flights of the SpaceX Starship in Texas. If you want to follow this activity, you can sync with a Google calendar here.  

Wall Street

The market pulled back about 2%, pretty much across the board, except for GameStop. GME was up 68% to $325. I took a look at the company’s latest annual report. It shows number of retail stores down every year since 2015. Revenue is also in decline. The company lost more than a billion dollars over the last two years. At the closing price it had a market cap of $22 billion. Why would anyone buy this stock? Go figure. Concern over COVID-19 vaccines weighed on sentiment. I am optimistic states and counties will get their act together and supply will ramp up. I will get dose #2 of Moderna on Thursday, February 7.