Twice Flown SpaceX Booster Sails Proudly into Port Canaveral at Sunrise 3 Days After Sunset Launch and Droneship Landing

PORT CANAVERAL/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The now twice flown SpaceX first stage booster that successfully delivered the SES-11 UHDTV satellite to orbit Wednesday, Oct 11, sailed proudly back home into Port Canaveral during a beautiful Sunday sunrise, Oct. 15 only three days after it safely landed on a tiny droneship at sea.

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SpaceX Sets Oct. 11 Sunset Blastoff of SES-11 North American UHD TV Sat on Used Falcon 9 Rocket: Watch Live

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – SpaceX is all set for a sunset blastoff Wednesday, Oct. 11 of the commercial SES-11/EchoStar 105 Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV satellite serving North America on a ‘used’ Falcon 9 booster from the Florida Space Coast – that is also targeted to re-land a second time on an sea going platform off shore in the Atlantic.

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Reused SpaceX Dragon Supply Ship Arrives Space Station, Cygnus Departs, Falcon 9 Launch & Landing: Photos/Videos

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The first ever reused Dragon supply ship successfully arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) two days after a thunderous liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday, June 3. The first stage booster made a magnificent return to the Cape and erect ground landing some 8 minutes after liftoff.

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We Will Launch on Reuseable Rocket After Exceptional SpaceX Performance – Inmarsat CEO Tells Universe Today

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Following SpaceX’s “exceptional performance” launching an immensely powerful broadband satellite on their maiden mission for Inmarsat this week on a Falcon 9 rocket, the company CEO told Universe Today that Inmarsat was willing to conduct future launches with SpaceX – including on a “reusable rocket in the future!”

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SpaceX Stages Stupendous NRO Spysat Sunrise Liftoff and Land Landing

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – SpaceX today staged the stupendously successful Falcon 9 rocket launch at sunrise of a mysterious spy satellite in support of U.S. national defense for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) while simultaneously accomplishing a breathtaking pinpoint land landing of the boosters first stage that could eventually dramatically drive down the high costs of spaceflight.

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At T Minus 1 Day from ISS Liftoff SpaceX Rolls Falcon 9 to KSC Pad 39A – Feb. 18 Ignition Hinges on FAA License Approval

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Its getting down to the wire at T Minus 1 Day from liftoff for SpaceX and NASA as a Falcon 9 rocket was rolled out to historic Launch Complex 39A today, Feb 16, and the Feb. 18 ignition to the space station hinges on the approval of a launch license […]

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Iridium Satellites Fueled and Tucked In For SpaceX Falcon 9 ‘Return to Flight’ Blastoff

Technicians have fueled, stacked and tucked the first ten advanced IridiumNEXT mobile voice and data relay satellites inside the nose cone of a Falcon 9 rocket designated as SpaceX’s ‘Return to Flight’ launcher – potentially as early as next week – from their west coast launch pad on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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2 By Sea, 1 By Land, 3rd Recovered Booster Joins SpaceX Siblings: Up Close Gallery

Composite image of first stage booster from SpaceX JCSAT-14 launch was transported horizontally to SpaceX hangar at pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on May 16, 2016. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace.  Inset: Trio of SpaceX boosters inside pad 39A hangar. Credit: SpaceX.  Composite:  Ken Kremer

Rolling rolling rolling! Yee-haw!

2 By Sea, 1 By Land. The 3rd recovered Falcon 9 booster has joined her siblings inside SpaceX’s gleaming new processing hangar, laying side-by-side at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

What was once unfathomable science fiction has turned into science fact.

In the space of 5 short months, SpaceX has recovered three of the company’s spent Falcon 9 first stage boosters following successful rocket delivery launches for NASA and commercial customers.

The trio of landings count as stunning successes towards SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk’s vision of rocket reusability and radically slashing the cost of sending rockets to space by recovering the boosters and eventually reflying them with new payloads from paying customers.

Over the weekend, the latest Falcon 9 booster recovered after nailing a spectacular middle-of-the-night touchdown on a sea based platform, was transported horizontally from a work site at Port Canaveral to the SpaceX rocket processing hanger at pad 39A at KSC.

Check out the extensive gallery of up close photos/videos herein of the boosters travels along the long and winding road from the port to KSC from my space photographer friends Jeff Seibert and Julian Leek. As well as booster trio hangar photos from SpaceX.

“Three’s company,” tweeted SpaceX’s Elon Musk, after the third booster met the first two inside the pad 39A hangar.

https://youtu.be/re2JDDbBzC4

Video caption: Close-up video of SpaceX JCSAT-14 Falcon 9 booster rolls to SpaceX hanger at Pad 39A after removal from the drone ship where it landed on May 6th. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

The 156 foot tall booster safely soft landed on the tiny drone ship named “Of Course I Still Love You” or “OCISLY” barely nine minutes after liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 a week and a half ago on a mission to deliver the Japanese JCSAT-14 telecom satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

The upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 soared to orbit on May 6, roaring to life with 1.5 million pounds of thrust on a mission carrying the JCSAT-14 commercial communications satellite, following an on time nighttime liftoff at 1:21 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl.

The used first stage then carried out an intricate propulsive soft landing on the waiting ocean going platform located some 400 miles off the east coast of Florida.

The booster was then towed into the Florida space coast at Port Canaveral where it was removed from the barge, defueled had its four landing legs removed.

Thereafter it was tilted and lowered horizontally and placed onto the multi-wheeled transport for shipment back to SpaceX launch facilities at the Kennedy Space Center.

The newly recovered first stage joins the fleet of two others recovered last December and in April.

“May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar,” tweeted Musk.

To date SpaceX has recovered 3 Falcon 9 first stages – 2 by sea and 1 by at land. But this was the first one to be recovered from the much more demanding, high velocity trajectory delivering a satellite to GTO.

The first rocket was flying faster and at a higher altitude at the time of separation from the second stage and thus was much more difficult to slow down and maneuver back to the ocean based platform.

Musk and SpaceX official had openly doubted a successful outcome for this landing attempt.

Nevertheless it all worked out spectacularly as seen live at the time via the SpaceX launch and landing webcast.

However, the booster and the Merlin 1D first stage engines did sustain heavy damage as seen in the up close photos and acknowledged by Musk.

“Most recent rocket took max damage, due to v high entry velocity. Will be our life leader for ground tests to confirm others are good,” Musk tweeted.

So although this cannot be reflown, it still serves another great purpose for engineers seeking to determining the longevity of booster and its various components.

“A few pictures show some signs of distress, this obviously was a rough re-entry,’ Seibert told Universe Today.

Apparent cracks in the booster skin are visible. Looking at the Falcon 9s Merlin 1D engines arranged in an octoweb configuration, the center engine appears to be held in place with restraining straps.

“It looks like the octoweb area may have been breached due to the high entry energy. It appears that for some reason, they are supporting the center Merlin engine for transport. They may be some burn through below the orange strap holding up the center engine.”

Musk says the next SpaceX commercial launch is tentatively slated for late May – watch for my onsite reports.

Blastoff of the first reflown booster could follow sometime this summer.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

https://youtu.be/zPAFx4_vax8

Video caption: SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of JCSAT-14 on May 6, 2016 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Booster move gallery:

https://youtu.be/Yjy5Oed826g

Video Caption: 20X time-lapse of the first stage booster from the SpaceX JCSAT-14 launch being transferred on May 10, 2016 from the autonomous drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” (OCISLY) to a work pedestal on land 12 hours after arriving at the dock. Credit: Jeff Seibert

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SpaceX Sets Dec. 20 For ‘Return to Flight’ Launch and Historic Rocket Ground Landing Recovery Attempt – Watch Live

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for Orbcomm OG2 launch slated for Dec. 20, 2015 stands vertical at pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Fla.  Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX CEO Elon Muck announced today (Dec. 19) that his company plans to launch an upgraded version of its Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday night, Dec. 20, from Cape Canaveral, Florida – for the first time since it failed in flight six months ago on a mission for NASA to the space station – after successfully completing a crucial test of the rockets engines late Friday night.

Furthermore, SpaceX confirmed it will conduct a historic first ever attempt to recover the commercialrocket’s first stage by a soft landing on the ground at a special SpaceX site called Landing Zone 1 on the Cape’s Air Force Station.

“Currently looking good for a Sunday night attempted orbital launch and rocket landing at Cape Canaveral,” Musk tweeted today.

The path to Sunday’s ‘Return to Flight’ launch was cleared after SpaceX successfully conducted a static hot fire test of the Falcon 9 first stages engines at the Florida space coast launch pad last night.

“Static fire test looks good,” Musk confirmed via Twitter. “Pending data review, will aim to launch Sunday.”

Sunday’s launch of the 229 foot tall Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. is slated for 8:29 p.m. ET.

The primary mission of the liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 – in a newly enhanced upgraded configuration – is to carry a payload of eleven small commercial communications satellites for Orbcomm on the second OG2 mission. They are fueled and stacked on the satellite dispenser and encapsulated inside the payload fairing.

“The Falcon 9 will launch eleven next generation OG2 satellites as part of ORBCOMM’s second and final OG2 Mission at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida,” says Orbcomm.

A successful launch is critical to SpaceX which has a fully booked manifest of more than 50 launches waiting in line and worth billions of dollars in needed revenue to the firm.

The launch window lasts 60 seconds launch and opens at 8:29 p.m. ET.

A live webcast will be available at SpaceX.com/webcast beginning at approximately 8:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 20.

If needed, SpaceX says a backup launch opportunity is available on Dec. 21.

Air Force meteorologists are predicting a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions at launch time.

After the Falcon 9 rocket was rolled out to pad 40 on Wednesday, Dec. 16, SpaceX engineers carried out a fueling and countdown test in anticipation of conducting the critical static fire test of the first stage Merlin engines.

But technicians soon encountered a variety of technical issues that postponed the test completion until Friday evening. This subsequently forced a 1 day launch delay from Saturday, Dec. 19 to Sunday Dec. 20.

The static fire test is a routine prelaunch check with a fully fueled Falcon 9 held down on the pad and conducted by SpaceX to confirm the readiness of the rocket. It simulates a a launch countdown.

All SpaceX launches ground to an immediate halt this past summer when the commercial two stage Falcon 9 booster carrying a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft heading to the ISS on a critical resupply mission for NASA was unexpectedly destroyed by an overpressure event 139 seconds after a picture perfect blastoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 28 at 10:21 a.m. EDT.

The cause of the in-flight breakup was traced to the failure of a critical support strut inside the second stage liquid oxygen tank holding a high pressure helium tank in the Falcon 9 rocket, as the likely cause, revealed SpaceX CEO and chief designer Elon Musk during a briefing for reporters on July 20.

Musk said the Falcon 9 launch failure was a ‘huge blow’ to SpaceX.

At recent public forums, SpaceX managers have confirmed that a failure of the second stage strut is still the leading candidate for the launch mishap in June.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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SpaceX Rocket Prototype Explodes In Texas; ‘Rockets Are Tricky’, Musk Says

No injuries are reported after a SpaceX rocket prototype detonated in Texas today (Aug. 22) after an anomaly was found in the rocket, the company said in a statement. The  Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) — a successor to the Grasshopper vertical take-off and landing rocket — was completing the latest in a series of ambitious […]