Launch Stuff

Yazata Offline
There's going to be a pretty spectacular rocket launch from Cape Canaveral this evening (Wed. August 26/Thur August 27). It's going to be a ULA Delta IV Heavy carrying a big spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.  6:12 UTC Thursday, 2:12 AM EDT Thursday, 11:12 PM PDT Wednesday

The Delta IV Heavy looks a little like the Falcon Heavy, with three rocket cores and a similar large payload. The big difference is that none of the Delta's three cores is recoverable and reusable.

Edit: Launch last night was scrubbed due to some kind of ground support issue. They are going to try again tonight.

Edit2: Nope. They've pushed DIVH/NROL back again, to Fri/Sat night, to give them more time to address a "pneumatic pressure" problem in the ground support equipment.
Yazata Offline
So here's the menu for the weekend...

DIVH/NROL-44: Sat. @ 2:04 am EDT (Fri 11:04 PDT) Should be live-streamed

This one will be a large US government spy satellite launched by be very large and very impressive rocket.

Starship SN6 hop: NET (not earlier than) Saturday Should be live-streamed

We all know what this is. Another of Elon's Texas tanks with a rocket engine attached. (Who hasn't wanted to do that?)

Rocketlab 'I can't believe it's not optical' mission from NZ apparently around 11:00 PM EDT Saturday (8:00 PM PDT) Should be live-streamed

Their return to flight after their last rocket didn't make orbit. My not get off because weather in NZ (it's winter there) isn't great. It's carrying a single satellite carrying a synthetic aperture radar capable of imaging radar-reflective objects (like boats) across on the Earth's surface.

Falcon 9/SAOCOM 1B: Sun. @ 7:19 pm EDT ( 4:19 pm PDT) Should be live-streamed

This is a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying an Argentinian Earth observation satellite. I believe that the satellite is one of a series designed to look at farmland around the world and determine moisture levels to assess irrigation and crop yields and stuff. SpaceX has launched earlier ones. Booster is B 1059.4, up for its fourth flight. Previous were two supply flights to the Space Station with Cargo Dragons and one Starlink mission. This flight will be particularly interesting since B1059 will be returning for a landing at Cape Canaveral (not on OCISLY out at sea).

Astra Orbital Demo-1 from Kodiak: Sun. @ 10:00 PM EDT (7:00 pm PDT) Probably won't be streamed

This is that tiny small satellite launcher company from the "Alameda runway" that the Mythbusters made famous. It won't be carrying a satellite and frankly, the rocket's builders don't expect it to be entirely successful. They expect that it will take several tries to perfect their rocket. The goal this time is a successful first stage burn and stage separation.
Yazata Offline
Edit: DIVH/NROL-44 Pad abort. They lit the engines, the onboard computers didn't like what they were seeing and immediately shut everything down.

Like the rocket, it was kind of spectacular. All the flames are actually normal when this rocket starts up. It's fueled with liquid hydrogen and they flow hydrogen through the pumps and engines prior to lighting them, so the base of the rocket is surrounded by flammable gas when it starts up. Normally these rockets rise out of a fireball. Except, this time it didn't proceed to the computer's satisfaction and the huge rocket just sat there.
C C Offline
Decades ago, before there was pervasive computer monitoring and diagnosis of [arguably] every system, that thing would have taken off to whatever fate was awaiting it. On the downside of such aborted launches these days, maybe it's sometimes a problem that the rocket would have still gotten around in prehistoric times. Find out later whether it was really significant or not, or even a false detection.
Yazata Offline
If Sunday goes according to plan, it will be a rocket extravaganza! Actually it might be some kind of a record for launches in one day.

1. 7:12 AM PDT 10:12 AM EDT 14:12 UTC -- Starlink launch 11 Pad 39A Kennedy Space Center -- Falcon 9 B1060.2 on its second flight. (Previously launched a GPS satellite.) Recovery at sea on OCISLY

Should be livestreamed on SpaceX website and elsewhere

2. Sometime between 8:00 AM CDT and 8:00 PM CDT (6:00 AM PDT/9:00 AM EDT to 6:00 PM PDT/9:00 PM EDT) -- Starship SN6 150m hop at Boca Chica.

Should be livestreamed by LabPadre, by NSF and probably by SPadre and Tim Dodd. Mary will be out there.

3. 4:18 PM PDT, 7:18 PM EDT, 23:18 UTC -- SAOCOM 1 B  SLC 40 CCAFS -- Falcon 9 B 1059.4 on its fourth flight. (Previously launched two Cargo Dragons to the Space Station and one batch of Starlinks. This time it's carrying an Argentine Earth environmental research satellite to observe soil moisture levels around the world. This one will be intersting since  1059.4 is scheduled to return to a landing at Cape Canaveral.

This is the first time in memory that SpaceX has launched two Falcon 9's on the same day nine hours apart.

Should be livestreamed on the SpaceX website and by elsewhere.

4. 8:05 PM PDT, 11:05 PM EDT, 3:05 UTC Monday -- Rocketlab 'I can't believe it's not optical' from Mahia Pen. in New Zealand. This is Rocketlab's return to flight after the failure of their last launch.

Should be livestreamed on the Rocketlab website.

(Aug 29, 2020 08:02 PM)C C Wrote: Decades ago, before there was pervasive computer monitoring and diagnosis of [arguably] every system, that thing would have taken off to whatever fate was awaiting it. On the downside of such aborted launches these days, maybe it's sometimes a problem that the rocket would have still gotten around in prehistoric times. Find out later whether it was really significant or not, or even a false detection.

Tory Bruno says, The bird is in good shape. This was an automatic abort during the ignition sequence. Cause appears to have been in the ground system. System functioned as intended to protect the vehicle and payload.
Yazata Offline
The Sunday extravaganza didn't exactly turn out as hoped.

1. Starlink was postponed, until Tuesday Sept 1.

2. Starship SN6 tried several times to hop, was aborted for undisclosed reasons, then finally scrubbed for the day due to high winds.

3. SAOCOM 1B was a spectacular success!

4. Rocketlab upcoming. Will be livestreamed here

Rocketlab photo taken right before the stream went live

[Image: Egty34lUYAApsuD?format=jpg&name=small]

[Image: Egty34lUYAApsuD?format=jpg&name=small]

Update: The Rocketlab Electron successfully reached orbit. The commentators also explained why the mission is called "I can't believe it's not optical'. It's because the payload is a small synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite that can make detailed photographic quality images of what's on the ground. So it can see through clouds during a hurricane and observe structure damage on the ground in real time, stuff like that.
Yazata Offline
It goes up

B 1059.4 leaving CCAFS to put Argentina's SAOCOM 1-B into a polar orbit. This is the first polar-orbit launch from Cape Canaveral since the 1960's. (Polar launches are typically from Vandenberg.)

It comes down

B 1059.4 landing for the fourth time, this time at Cape Canaveral instead of on OCISLY, after launching the SAOCOM 1B satellite.

In today's news:

The eleventh Starlink launch has been pushed back from Tuesday Sept 1 to Thursday Sept 3.

That's the same day that SN6's hop in Boca Chica has been rescheduled (weather permitting, it's been very windy there, which is kind of normal for Boca Chica).
Yazata Offline
Delta IV Heavy/NROL 44 is tentatively on for 11:58 PM EDT Tuesday, 8:58 PM Tuesday PDT, 3:58 Wednesday UTC.

This was supposed to be Monday night, but weather didn't look good (it scrubbed Monday morning's Starlink launch).

Delta IV launches are worth watching since it's a huge Falcon Heavy class three-core heavy-lift rocket that has a habit of launching out of spectacular balls of fire.

All the details here

Livestream will be here

Here's a beautiful photo by Julia Bergeron of the D IV last time, when a pad abort prevented the engines from lighting. The flames are normal believe it or not. Tory Bruno explained that the rocket is fueled by liquid hydrogen and they run cold hydrogen through the turbo pumps prior to ignition to chill them and spin them up. All that hydrogen comes out the bottom, turns into vapor and since it's lighter than air, it rises around the rocket where it ignites into the fireball.

[Image: PSX_20200829_033551-scaled.jpg]

[Image: PSX_20200829_033551-scaled.jpg]

Yazata Offline
Another pad abort and scrub. (Damn piece of junk rocket...)

This is the third pad abort in a row for the Delta IV. This one, the same rocket last time they tried to launch it, and the rocket before that at Vandenberg.

The Delta IV Heavy has flown eleven times before, all successfully. (Even though it appears cranky getting off.) Once it's flying it's reliable.

Reportedly this model of rocket only had five more launches scheduled before it's retired and replaced by ULA's new Vulcan

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