SpaceX shock reveal: Falcon 9 launch cameras were cut off to ‘protect national security’ | Science | News


Elon Musk’s ambitious aerospace venture is famous for placing a slew of cameras on its Falcon 9 rockets that provide unparalleled views from space.

However, it appears that a “commercial remote sensing licence” will be needed for its next launch.

In a statement, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials said: “The National and Commercial Space Program Act requires a commercial remote sensing license for companies having the capacity to take an image of Earth while in orbit.

“Now that launch companies are putting video cameras on stage 2 rockets that reach an on-orbit status, all such launches will be held to the requirements of the law and its conditions.

“SpaceX applied and received a license from NOAA that included conditions on their capability to live-stream from space.

“Conditions on Earth imaging to protect national security are common to all licenses for launches with on-orbit capabilities.”

Prior to the Falcon 9’s launch of 10 Iridium Next satellites, SpaceX admitted that “restrictions” from the NOAA were responsible for the sudden video cut.

Michael Hammersley, the company’s materials engineer, declared: “Due to some restrictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA for short, SpaceX will be intentionally ending live video coverage of the second stage just prior to engine shutdown.

“We’re working with NOAA to address these restrictions in order to hopefully be able to bring you live views from orbit in the future.”

It is understood that the NOAA recently asserted that cameras on the second stage of the Falcon 9 are a “remote sensing space system”, this means that a provisional license would be needed for Space X to continue a live video feed from the equipment.

SpaceX applied for the licence and received approval from the NOAA but was unable to work around conditions that required footage to be cut off.

Elon Musk’s aerospace company’s next launch is on April 2 where a Falcon 9 rocket is expected to carry a Dragon cargo ship that will deliver goods to the International Space Station.

It is believed that camera issues will be addressed for this launch.

Last month, SpaceX shot the Falcon Heavy into space that contained Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster.

The sports car was responsible for a string of images and video that emerged from the launch and became hugely popular.

The vehicle was piloted by a dummy that was dubbed “Starman” by Elon Musk and the centre console of the car featured a sign that read “don’t panic” adding a sense of humour to the historic launch.



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