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SpaceX’s massive Starship set to launch for 1st orbital flight

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Another new rocket is ready to take to the skies. This time, it’s SpaceX’s Starship, which will be a critical component of the Artemis III mission that will return humans to the lunar surface.

SpaceX has been working on the rocket for several years, with the goal of using it to take heavier payloads into orbit, to the moon and eventually to Mars. The company’s founder and CEO Elon Musk has also envisioned a version that could ferry people around the world.

After multiple delays, it appears that SpaceX is finally going to blast this rocket for its first orbital mission, potentially on Monday or Tuesday.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the first orbital launch of Starship.

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What is Starship?

When you first take a look at Starship, it may bring to mind the old rockets of the early 1940s and 1950s (Musk himself responded to a tweet in 2019 where one user hinted that the original design of Starship reminded him of that used in The Adventures of Tintin).

It is made up of two stages: the booster stage (called the Super Heavy) and the spaceship itself. Stacked together, they are called Starship, but to make matters more confusing, the spaceship itself is also called Starship.

To date, Starship (the spaceship), has only ever flown to 12.5 kilometres in altitude. Of the four high-altitude test flights, only one has ever successfully landed. The first one — SN8 — slammed into the ground, while the second one — SN10 — landed and then exploded. In March 2021, SN11 also managed a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” as Musk has come to call these explosions.

WATCH | Starship’s SN15 high-altitude flight test:

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Finally, on May 5, 2021, SN15 successfully landed. It was the last time any version of Starship ever flew.

While those tests returned Starship to SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, for this test, the first stage will make a landing in the Atlantic Ocean, while the Starship will make splash down in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Hawaii.

The booster for this launch is called Booster 7, and the Starship is SN24.

The Super Heavy rocket has the most engines of any rocket at 33. On Feb. 9, it did a test of the engines, but only 31 ignited.

What is new about this?

Starship is unlike any other vehicle ever launched.

It launches vertically, in two stages, and then the booster stage — like the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket — returns to the launch pad and is caught by arms dubbed “chopsticks.” And, eventually, when the spaceship’s job is done, it, too, returns to the pad. But instead of coming in vertically as the boosters do, the ship will do a “belly flop” throughout most of the atmosphere, before manoeuvring to land in a upright position.

A silver spaceship hangs in the sky horizontally.
This image shows Starship SN9 spaceship in its bellyflop position as it returns to SpaceX’s Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, after a test flight where it reached 10 kilometres in altitude before it crashed and exploded on landing. (SpaceX)

Another unique ability Starship has, is to launch a fuelling spacecraft that will dock with the passenger or cargo spacecraft.

All of this is designed to be reusable.

“Starship is a potentially revolutionary technology in that it’s a super-heavy lift rocket,” said Canadian Jordan Bimm, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago and a space historian. “And it will have the largest launch capacity of any rocket that humans have designed so far. And it has the added additional benefit of potentially being reusable.”

When fully stacked in the two stages, the rocket will be 120 metres tall, bigger than NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will launch astronauts into orbit in 2024 as part of the Artemis II mission.

WATCH | Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen looks ahead to his moon mission:

Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen looks ahead to his moon mission

12 days ago

Duration 13:08

Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen sits down with CBC’s Nicole Mortillaro to talk about being chosen for the Artemis II mission, what this means for Canada and what he’s most looking forward to experiencing during the mission.

It will also be the most powerful rocket ever built, also surpassing the lift capability of SLS.

This launch of Starship also marks another first: It will be the first time any spacecraft has launched into orbit from Texas, Bimm noted.

Why is this important?

Musk envisions Starship to have multiple uses.

First, it’s heavy-lift capability of up to 90 to 136 metric tonnes surpasses that of SLS, which can lift with anywhere from 23 to 41 metric tonnes.

That gives it the advantage for missions requiring heavy payloads.

But more than that, Starship will be used as the landing vehicle for NASA’s Artemis III mission that will once again return humans to the surface of the moon.

For that mission, NASA’s Orion spacecraft will lift off from Earth, head to the moon, followed or preceded by Starship. Then, while in a special orbit called a halo orbit, it will unite with Starship, on which the astronauts will transfer and then land on the moon.

An illustration shows a black and white rocket upright on the surface of the moon.
This illustration show’s the SpaceX Starship human lander design that will carry NASA astronauts to the moon’s surface during the Artemis III mission. (SpaceX)

“The Starship variant that is supposed to be part of Artemis III — the human landing system — is absolutely critical,” Bimm said. “And if that does not come online in time that Artemis III will either be delayed or it will, it will become another sort of like fly-around-the-moon mission like Artemis II, so [NASA] is quite dependent on SpaceX having its act together and and having this mission be a success.”

Space historian and former NASA illustrator Paul Fjeld questions whether or not Starship’s Human Landing System (HLS) will be ready in time for the Artemis III mission.

“[Musk] has to prove this thing in a way that NASA is comfortable with, which means he has to fly 30 times, 40 times,” he said.

“He has to do the really hard thing with Artemis, which is to get a tanker in orbit, and then launch maybe five fuel re-dumps, then send the actual lunar lander up, dock with it, fill it up with propellant, take off for the moon, do a landing — and that’s the demo. You’ve got to do an [uncrewed] demo, then come back with a whole thing, and go into whatever that halo orbit is, where he would rendezvous in with an Orion spacecraft. And then he’s got to do it again. And he’s got to prove this many, many, many times.”

But Musk has bigger sights set: on Mars.

He has said many times that he wants to make humans “a multi-planetary species.”

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He plans to use Starship to carry upward of 100 humans to the Red Planet, and eventually create a human settlement.

When the rocket lifts off — whether it’s next week or not — it will be quite a sight to see and hear, with its 33 Raptor engines propelling the mighty spaceship on its historic first big test. And NASA will likely be paying very close attention.

 

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Indigo shakeup: Heather Reisman retiring, 4 other board members stepping down

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Indigo Books and Music Inc. says founder Heather Reisman will retire as executive chair and as a director this summer, while four other members of its board have also stepped down.

The company says director Chika Stacy Oriuwa indicated she resigned “because of her loss of confidence in board leadership and because of mistreatment.”

In addition to Oriuwa, Indigo says Frank Clegg, Howard Grosfield and Anne Marie O’Donovan have also stepped down as directors. No explanation for their departures was given.

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Click to play video: 'Indigo CEO Heather Reisman talks about creating a happier planet in her new book ‘Imagine It!’'
6:05
Indigo CEO Heather Reisman talks about creating a happier planet in her new book ‘Imagine It!’

 


Indigo wished the departing directors well and thanked them for their contributions.

The retailer says Reisman will retire as executive chair and from the board effective Aug. 22.

Reisman stepped down as chief executive of Indigo last year as part a transition that saw Peter Ruis, who had been the retailer’s president, promoted to chief executive.

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Canadian banks raise prime rate to 6.95% after Bank of Canada hike

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Big banks follow suit after surprise quarter-point hike

Canadian banks announced they were raising their prime lending rates after the Bank of Canada surprised markets by hiking it benchmark interest rate on June 7.

Royal Bank of Canada, TD Canada Trust, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Bank of Montreal, National Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia all said they were increasing the prime rate by 25 basis points to 6.95 per cent from 6.70 per cent, effective June 8, 2023.

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Desjardins Group and Equitable Bank also announced it would raise its Canadian prime rate by the same amount.

The Bank of Canada surprised markets and observers when it raised its benchmark policy rate by a quarter percentage point to 4.75 per cent earlier in the day.

The central bank has raised its rate nine times, and 4.5 percentage points, since March 2022, and the commercial banks’ prime rate has moved in lockstep from 2.7 per cent to 6.95 per cent.

Listen to Down to Business for in-depth discussions and insights into the latest in Canadian business, available wherever you get your podcasts. Check out the latest episode below:

 

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Stock Market News Today, 7/06/23 – Stocks End Mixed as Nasdaq Leads Indices Lower

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Last Updated 4:00 PM EST

Stock indices finished today’s trading session mixed. The Nasdaq 100 (NDX) and the S&P 500 (SPX) fell 1.75% and 0.38%, respectively. Meanwhile, Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) gained 0.28%.

Furthermore, the U.S. 10-Year Treasury yield increased to 3.79%, an increase of more than 12 basis points. Similarly, the Two-Year Treasury yield also increased, as it hovers around 4.56%.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve updated its latest GDPNow reading, which allows it to estimate GDP growth in real-time. The “nowcast” becomes more accurate as more economic data is released throughout the quarter. Currently, it estimates that the economy will expand by about 2.2% in the second quarter.

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This is higher than its previous estimate of 2%, which can be attributed to recent releases from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Institute for Supply Management, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last updated: 1:50PM EST

Stocks are mixed so far in today’s trading session. As of 1:50 p.m. EST, the Nasdaq 100 (NDX) and the S&P 500 (SPX) are down 1.5% and 0.4%, respectively. Meanwhile, Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is up 0.2%.

Surprising market observers, the Bank of Canada hiked its primary policy rate by 25 basis points, raising it to 4.75% on Wednesday. The bank cited persistent underlying inflation as the main driver for this decision, marking a departure from two consecutive meetings where the rate was held steady.

The bank also continues with its policy of quantitative tightening, indicating a response to worldwide economic growth that’s weakening due to increased interest rates. “Major central banks are signaling that interest rates may have to rise further to restore price stability,” the bank stated.

This unexpected move initially boosted the Canadian dollar but has since lost some ground as it hovers around C$1.338 per US$1. The rate increase follows a rise in CPI inflation to 4.4% in April, its first surge in 10 months, and a stronger-than-anticipated GDP of 3.1% in Q1.

The Bank of Canada’s Governing Council asserts that the rate hike is in response to previous policy not being restrictive enough to balance supply and demand and bring inflation sustainably back to the 2% target.

As a major trading partner, what happens in Canada usually has ripple effects in the U.S. Thus, this could be a sign that the Federal Reserve might have to continue hiking as well going forward.

Last updated: 10:55AM EST

Stocks have turned red so far in today’s trading session after a positive start. As of 10:55 a.m. EST, the Nasdaq 100 (NDX) and the S&P 500 (SPX) are down 0.9% and 0.2%, respectively. Meanwhile, Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is near the flatline.

Last updated: 9:50AM EST

Stocks ticked higher at open on Wednesday morning even as the trade deficit data showed that the United States’ trade deficit jumped 23% in April to $74.6 billion – a six-month high indicating a surge in imports. Imports were up 1.5% in April to $323.6 billion while exports fell by 3.6% to $249 billion.

The Nasdaq 100 (NDX), S&P 500 (SPX), and Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) were all up by 0.6%, 0.32%, and 0.11%, respectively, at 9:50 a.m., EST, June 7.

First published: 4:38AM EST

U.S. Futures are in the red this morning after the SPX marked its highest close in trading since August 2022 yesterday. We are almost halfway through the trading week, and markets remain elevated in the absence of any negative news. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 (NDX), S&P 500 (SPX), and Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) are down 0.26%, 0.15%, and 0.18%, respectively, at 4:00 a.m., EST, June 7.

On the economic front, traders await reports on the U.S. trade deficit and consumer credit due today, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims data scheduled for June 8. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy is showing signs of slowing, with May exports falling 7.5% year-over-year against the expected 0.4% decline. Also, imports fell 4.5% year-over-year, much lower than the expected 8% decline.

On the earnings front, fewer companies remain to report their quarterly results. Shares of Casey’s General Stores (NYSE:CASY) dropped 4.5% in extended trading yesterday, after missing both sales and earnings expectations. On the other hand, Dave & Buster’s (NASDAQ:PLAY) stock was up over 4% in yesterday’s extended trade following its report of mixed results, with earnings surpassing but sales missing estimates.

Furthermore, meme stock GameStop (NYSE:GME), travel service provider Trip.com Group (NASDAQ:TCOM), e-commerce platform Rent the Runway (NASDAQ:RENT), and discount chain Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (NASDAQ:OLLI) will report their results today.

Elsewhere, European indices are trading in the red today, following weaker-than-expected data from German industrial production for April. After a disastrous March, April seems to continue bleeding from poor performance. Industrial production in April grew by a marginal 0.3% month-over-month, against an expected rise of 0.7%. Economists worry that if data remains weak in May and June, the economy’s recession will spill well into the second quarter.

Asia-Pacific Markets Trade Mixed on Wednesday

Asia-Pacific indices ended the trading session mixed today, following economic data sets from different nations. Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong indices closed mixed on signs that the economy is going into a continued slowdown. At the same time, Australian indices continue their downward spiral after reporting poor GDP growth and following the Reserve Bank of Australia’s unexpected rate hike to a record high yesterday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and China’s Shanghai Composite ended the day up 0.80% and 0.08%, respectively, while the Shenzhen Component index closed down by 0.60%.

At the same time, Japan’s Nikkei and Topix indices ended down by 1.82% and 1.34%, respectively.

Interested in more economic insights? Tune in to our LIVE webinar.

 

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