SpaceX to Attempt First West Coast Falcon 9 Landing on Land Today

#1
Scheduled for a 7:21 PM PDT (10:21 PM EDT) launch from Vandenberg today. The plan is for the booster to return to a propulsive landing at Vandenberg after orbiting a pair of satellites. While these landings have become routine at Cape Canaveral, they haven't been attempted in California, mainly because a landing zone hadn't been constructed. But now one has. Prior to this, all the west coast booster recoveries have been on a SpaceX landing barge/"droneship".

Watch the livestream here:

https://www.spacex.com/webcast

Or here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr_C6LQ7mHc

Press kit here

https://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/file...esskit.pdf

The payload on this one consists of two Argentinian satellites that propose to use radar to gather soil moisture information around the Earth. (That's useful for assessing fire danger, for biological purposes and for agriculture.) The two satellites join a 'constellation' of similar satellites put up by Argentina and Italy.

Here's the new west coast landing pad (SpaceX photo):


[Image: Do27rTbV4AEYc0X.jpg]


Here's the landing pad in the foreground with the Falcon9 on its launch pad in the background (SpaceX photo):


[Image: Do744RkUUAAfBNo.jpg]
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#2
7:07 PM PDT and the webcast is going. The narrator says that there are no issues with the booster, which is used/"flight proven" and flew previously when it launched a satellite from Vandenberg in July and landed at sea. The narrator is telling southern California that due to the launch right after sunset, the rocket's high-altitude contrail may be visible illuminated by sunlight high in the sky west of LA, Orange county and San Diego.

Space X has built its launch pad and landing pad where Titan missiles used to be launched. These were ICBMs at first, then when they became surplus they were used as space launch vehicles.


7:30 PM PDT: launch went perfectly, stage separation, boostback and entry burn by the book and then the booster stuck its landing in the middle of the SpaceX 'X' on the landing pad. Satellite is in the correct orbit and has already been deployed from the second stage.

Here's the now veteran twice-flown booster safely back on its landing pad at Vandenberg (SpaceX photo)


[Image: Do9AsdOU4AEphNo.jpg:large]
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#3
(Oct 8, 2018 03:12 AM)Yazata Wrote: The narrator is telling southern California that due to the launch right after sunset, the rocket's high-altitude contrail may be visible illuminated by sunlight high in the sky west of LA, Orange county and San Diego.

And it does seem to have given southern California a good light-show. People are posting lots of photos to twitter.


[Image: Do8_jxMUYAAMr4X.jpg]



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#4
Here's some cool stuff from SpaceX's twitter page.

There's a little one minute (greatest-hits) video that captures the launch, staging, reentry burn and landing.

And there's a very cool just-a-few-seconds-long video that somebody shot that shows how the light show unfolded.

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1049383091683319808

The judges were pleased (even the scowling Russian judge)

https://twitter.com/justskittz/status/10...8362771456
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#5
It was visible all over California! (I was too engrossed in the live-feed and never thought to go outside and look for it.)

This from Sonoma (north of San Francisco)


[Image: DpBSOWPUwAAGH_l.jpg]


This from San Diego. These are pictures that Californians posted to SpaceX's twitter page.


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#7
(Oct 10, 2018 02:59 AM)C C Wrote:
(Oct 10, 2018 12:20 AM)Yazata Wrote: It was visible all over California! (I was too engrossed in the live-feed and never thought to go outside and look for it.)

Signs in the heavens. Members of the Universal Industrial Church of the New World Comforter probably all abuzz.

We can't let MR see this thread! He'll freak out! UFO's!!  

Quote:Why Do Some Rocket Launches Look Like UFOs?
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/artic...cex-rocket

Good article.

I think that the next time SpaceX has one of these scheduled to launch right after sunset, I'll take some binoculars and maybe a cell-phone camera, go climb a nearby hill that gives me a reasonably good view to the south and see that I can see.

I like the video showing the puffs of its maneuvering thrusters (presumably to steer itself towards the landing pad where it wanted to go):

https://oembed.vice.com/files/c2734ac456...b76cf0.mp4
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#8
This short video, from an LA TV reporter called Veronica Miracle (is that really her name?) appears to show the vehicle immediately after stage separation. What appears to be the second stage is accelerating to the left, while the first stage is boosting back to the right in order to return home to Vandenberg. They typically use Vandenberg to shoot satellites into polar orbit, since there is nothing but ocean southwards until you hit Antarctica. (There's lots of stuff both north and south of Cape Canaveral.) So in Veronica's video which presumably is looking westwards, the left would be south and the right north. Vandenberg is north of LA.


https://twitter.com/ABC7Veronica/status/...3535242240
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#9
(Oct 10, 2018 03:42 AM)Yazata Wrote: I like the video showing the puffs of its maneuvering thrusters (presumably to steer itself towards the landing pad where it wanted to go):

https://oembed.vice.com/files/c2734ac456...b76cf0.mp4


I was really struck by those scenes in the launch, too (didn't get to see it live, but watched the recording of it an hour or two later).

~

(Oct 10, 2018 04:12 PM)Yazata Wrote: This short video, from an LA TV reporter called Veronica Miracle (is that really her name?) appears to show the vehicle immediately after stage separation. What appears to be the second stage is accelerating to the left, while the first stage is boosting back to the right in order to return home to Vandenberg. They typically use Vandenberg to shoot satellites into polar orbit, since there is nothing but ocean southwards until you hit Antarctica. (There's lots of stuff both north and south of Cape Canaveral.) So in Veronica's video which presumably is looking westwards, the left would be south and the right north. Vandenberg is north of LA.

https://twitter.com/ABC7Veronica/status/...3535242240


Makes me wonder if the "Sister" below was a relative; i.e., if the reporter was named after her. (Nah, certainly not should she be married, unless she retained her maiden name professionally.)

Sr. Veronica Mary MIRACLE (obituary)
https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latime...=137068329
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#10
The best video that I've seen of this particular launch is here. It's filmed from Pismo Beach, about 30 miles north of Vandenberg. (I used to hang out a lot in Pismo Beach, back in the day. Lots of good memories...) It shows the vehicle ascending, stage separation, boost-back and the light show, the peculiar little puffs coming from the first stage's maneuvering thrusters as it maneuvers in space to aim itself at its landing pad, and finally the landing back at Vandenberg.

https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local...55495.html
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