SpaceX launch tomorrow night

 
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

SpaceX is planning to launch the first set of operational Starlink satellites tomorrow, assuming it doesn't get delayed again. There's a nine minute launch window opening at 1451 UTC, and if there's a live stream it will be available at

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtI0Hodo5o5dUb67FeUjDeA from roughly 30 minutes before the launch window.

SpaceX clearly have some major organisational problems at the moment. They haven't made any launch for over three months now, there's a queue of delayed launches building up, and their publicity activity ahead of this launch is almost non-existent. You'd think that this Starlink launch would be the ideal one for maximum publicity as it's their own project.

They are slipping way behind on their obligations to NASA under their Commercial Resupply Services phase 1 (CRS-1) contract too. SpX-CRS-19 will be 11 months and 2 weeks late if it launches on its newest projected date of December 4, and then they still have to launch SpX-CRS-20 to complete their CRS-1 contract. Meanwhile, Northrop Grunman completed the first of their CRS-2 launches (Cygnus NG-12) last weekend.

The difficulties at SpaceX make it look like NASA has made the right move in splitting the CRS-2 contract over three providers which each provide different capabilities. The proven combination of the Enhanced Cygnus from Northrop Grunman (heavier payload plus a secondary mission of satellite launches or boosting the ISS) and the Dragon from SpaceX (lighter payload, reusable capsule allowing cargo to be returned to earth) should continue to perform as it did under CRS-1.

The exciting part of CRS-2 will be the 2021 introduction of a third spacecraft alongside the two existing CRS-1 spacecraft: the Dream Chaser Cargo spaceplane from Sierra Nevada Corporation which carry an even heavier payload than Enhanced Cygnus or Dragon, and will be able to return to a runway landing with more return cargo than 3 Dragon capsules. If Dream Chaser performs as required under CRS-2, expect SpaceX to be out of contention for CRS-3 launches.

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  rwatts Junior Train Controller

Location: Adelaide SA
This will be the first reuse of a Falcon payload fairing,  and the first attempt to catch both fairing halves now that GO Ms Chief has been fitted with a net to match GO Ms Tree (the former Mr Steven).
An attempt will be made to land the booster on Of Course I Still Love You. Use of the autonomous drone ship to land the booster down range rather than LZ1 or LZ2 at Cape Canaveral usually indicates the launch needs more fuel for the payload and desired orbit.

Richard.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

It's certainly due to the payload.

The Starlink 0.9 launch of 60 test satellites in May was the heaviest payload that SpaceX has launched to date at 16,800kg, and they are saying that tonight's Starlink Flight 1 is even heavier.

These launches are to a similar altitude as the ISS, and it's known that a SpaceX CRS flight with a Return To Launch Site (RTLS) landing profile restricts the payload to 8,200kg (including the empty mass of the Dragon capsule, restricting actual cargo to ~3,400kg). To launch 16 tonnes certainly requires downrange recovery.

It does make you wonder though - with Starlink due to require 24 launches over the next five years and SpaceX's troubles with turnaround times getting worse rather than better, is it finally time for Elon to get over his objection to solid rocket motors and strap a couple of off-the-shelf GEM63 boosters on the side of the first stage to allow for intermediate payloads like ULA and Northrop-Grunman can launch?
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

One thing to remember is that Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket is powered by Russian RD-181 engines.  How sustainable is that in the long-term if trade sanctions ramp up?  Especially if the Democrats get in after 2020?
Carnot
ULA have the same potential issue with using RD-181 engines on the first stage of Atlas V, but without the benefit of the engine purchases going through Ukraine as the Antares first stages do.

Both companies adopted the same approach to solving it too - get hold of nearly a billion dollars of funding through the US Air Force for development of a replacement, and use that money to develop a new intermediate/heavy lift platform (Omega for Northrop Grunman, Vulcan for ULA, both to make first operational flights in 2021) while moving to stock up on enough RD-181 engines to keep operating the Antares 230+ and Atlas V medium-lift platforms in parallel with Omega and Vulcan for some years to come.

Northrop Grunman have also made noises about developing an Antares 3xx series using US-sourced engines, but haven't committed to it yet.

Big fat defence/NASA contracts are the bread and butter of all three companies, the only difference being that SpaceX pisses away their profits from the defence/NASA contracts on "commercial" launches that aren't commercial and Elon's marijuana-induced thought bubbles.

Elon has too many other distractions - Tesla, Starship, debtors etc....
Carnot
And unfortunately for the mugs who invested in SpaceX, he did a better job of structuring SpaceX so his control of the company (78% of voting shares) is preserved than he did with Tesla (21% of voting shares).
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
One thing to remember is that Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket is powered by Russian RD-181 engines. How sustainable is that in the long-term if trade sanctions ramp up?
Somebody

Sanctions towards Russia normally leave such things such as SPACE alone. America needs Russia for its exploration space programs including support with the ISS and buying the plutonium for the energy source (RTG) used for long distance space travel without dependence on the sun for solar power. I was a bit surprised to read that many projects have been delayed, cancelled or even reduced slightly such as New Horizons simply due to lack of RTG material and dependence on Russia which has a limited supply. However the US is trying to go solo on this, again.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

20 minutes to go, webcast is up.

There will be NO fairing recovery, recovery ships Ms. Chief and Ms. Tree are at Morehead City Port in North Carolina.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I'm not sure why people think there has been issues or delays with SpaceX, they had no scheduled launches for Sept-Oct for many many months or at least since last Falcon Heavy launch which is when I looked it up first time.

Is it a bad time to launch weather wise?

Last nights launch had a 8min window, which they seemed to have nailed. We also got a nice view of the landing on the drone ship, normally it cuts out.

However I was planning to go to next Falcon Heavy in August and this was recently changed and now out of school holiday. Why go to see a Falcon 9 launch when you can see 3 of them at once!


Regards
Shane
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

I'm not sure why people think there has been issues or delays with SpaceX, they had no scheduled launches for Sept-Oct for many many months or at least since last Falcon Heavy launch which is when I looked it up first time.
RTT_Rules
That's because they had all been pushed back already. None of them were last minute scrubs on the pad because it was too windy or a boat entered the exclusion zone.

I count at least six SpaceX launches which were supposed to take place in September-October but did not:
  • GPS 3 SV03, due for launch in September, delayed to at least January.
  • Crew Dragon Demo-2, scheduled for 21 September after delays from three previous launch dates dating back to March, delayed until some time in 2020.
  • 15 October was the second delayed launch date for the SPX-20 CRS flight, now delayed to at least 1 March next year.
  • Once SPX-20 was delayed, the 15 October was then scheduled for the launch of SPX-19 (delayed from December 2018) before even that one was delayed to at least December.
  • GPS 3 SV04 was due for launch in October, delayed to at least May.
  • Starlink 1 was scheduled for October 17, and failed to launch on time. That one was relatively punctual by SpaceX standards in being only four weeks late, but came at the expense of cancelling another scheduled launch for a commercial customer (see below).



In the first two weeks of November, their chances of catching up have already taken a hit with no launches on time, two scheduled launches cancelled and only one delayed launch completed.
  • 4 November was the scheduled launch for Starlink 2, no launch and no new schedule yet.
  • 11 November was the scheduled launch for JCSAT 18/Kacific 1, but this one was delayed to 16 December and the 11/11 used for Starlink 1.


If they get any worse, even VLine will be laughing at them!
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I'm not sure why people think there has been issues or delays with SpaceX, they had no scheduled launches for Sept-Oct for many many months or at least since last Falcon Heavy launch which is when I looked it up first time.
That's because they had all been pushed back already. None of them were last minute scrubs on the pad because it was too windy or a boat entered the exclusion zone.

I count at least six SpaceX launches which were supposed to take place in September-October but did not:
  • GPS 3 SV03, due for launch in September, delayed to at least January.
  • Crew Dragon Demo-2, scheduled for 21 September after delays from three previous launch dates dating back to March, delayed until some time in 2020.
  • 15 October was the second delayed launch date for the SPX-20 CRS flight, now delayed to at least 1 March next year.
  • Once SPX-20 was delayed, the 15 October was then scheduled for the launch of SPX-19 (delayed from December 2018) before even that one was delayed to at least December.
  • GPS 3 SV04 was due for launch in October, delayed to at least May.
  • Starlink 1 was scheduled for October 17, and failed to launch on time. That one was relatively punctual by SpaceX standards in being only four weeks late, but came at the expense of cancelling another scheduled launch for a commercial customer (see below).



In the first two weeks of November, their chances of catching up have already taken a hit with no launches on time, two scheduled launches cancelled and only one delayed launch completed.
  • 4 November was the scheduled launch for Starlink 2, no launch and no new schedule yet.
  • 11 November was the scheduled launch for JCSAT 18/Kacific 1, but this one was delayed to 16 December and the 11/11 used for Starlink 1.


If they get any worse, even VLine will be laughing at them!
justapassenger
So in most cases they are changing dates >6mth in advance, this is not a rocket issue isn't this is a customer driven issue. They can knock out a new Falcon 9 in a few weeks.

Anything to say this is SpaceX driven?
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

I can't see how it would be customer issues, for two reasons:
1. CRS and Defence launches with other operators are not copping the same delays.
2. If customers for other launches had caused delays, Starlink and Crew Dragon Demo should have launched on time as there would have been nothing preventing SpaceX from focusing more closely on their own launches while others were on hold.

I wonder if the problem is that the "reused" first stages are needing more work to get them ready for their next flight than SpaceX anticipated? Your suggestion of knocking out a few fresh ones would be quite a suitable solution if that was the case, as it would increase the size of the fleet and allow a longer period for refurbishment between flights.
  viaprojects Chief Train Controller

I can't see how it would be customer issues, for two reasons:
1. CRS and Defence launches with other operators are not copping the same delays.
2. If customers for other launches had caused delays, Starlink and Crew Dragon Demo should have launched on time as there would have been nothing preventing SpaceX from focusing more closely on their own launches while others were on hold.

I wonder if the problem is that the "reused" first stages are needing more work to get them ready for their next flight than SpaceX anticipated? Your suggestion of knocking out a few fresh ones would be quite a suitable solution if that was the case, as it would increase the size of the fleet and allow a longer period for refurbishment between flights.
justapassenger


the pain of not reading NASA's web site and others . and all the timing for a launch window...

yes there's problems with the commercial crew program... space x has a production issue and NASA has change the length for the demo test ... and Boeing still have there issues and first demo test on the 17th  


hard part most of the info is via NASA...

just like "SpaceX Completes Crew Dragon Static Fire Tests " https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/2019/11/13/spacex-completes-crew-dragon-static-fire-tests/


edit - fyi - The first flight of SpaceX's Starlink satellite constellation launched on 24 May ,2019 (02:30 UTC)..
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

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