Sunday, August 30, 2020

One Out of Three Today

That's one out of three of the launches we expected.  Today was supposed to be dual launch of Falcon 9s from the Cape.  A Starlink launch this morning at 10:21 AM and the SAOCOM-1B satellite this evening at 7:18 PM EDT.  Over in Boca Chica, prototype SN6 was supposed to do a 150m hop today.  

When I checked in with SpaceX launches this morning, there was a notice that the weather yesterday interfered with prelaunch operations for the Starlink launch and it has been rescheduled for Tuesday morning, so the morning launch was off.  

As the day went by, I opened a tab on LabPadre where I've watched the majority of tests.  There was a mid-afternoon test where they got close to lighting the engine but aborted.  An apparent recycle that didn't involve sending crews to the pad and then nothing, so the hop was off.  

Luckily, the SAOCOM-1B launch went off without a hitch and it went as we had hoped for.  (That link is to the SpaceX mission video; here's some info on the SAOCOM-1B mission)  The launch trajectory went south, perhaps 10 degrees east of directly overhead, and then the booster returning to the Cape (Landing Zone 1) also went overhead and we were able to see the ~25 second long "entry burn" about a minute before landing.  

Going up on the left and coming down on the right.  Through the tens of Falcon 9 launches we've watched, this is only the second time I've seen this burn, and both the first time I've seen it in the daytime and the first time I've photographed it.  All this from my side yard. 

Due to the flight trajectory we got the launch sounds for a very long time, easily a solid six minutes, ending with the window-shaking sonic boom of the booster on return to the Cape.

We had rainy weather all afternoon but the clouds thinned just enough to catch part of the ascent and the last minute or so of the descent. 

Maybe 20 years ago, I heard a Space Shuttle launch manager say, "you have to get used to disappointment in this business" and that's still the truth.  We started out hoping to see three launches and consider ourselves lucky to have seen one as well as we did.  Next attempt at hopping SN6 will be tomorrow, 8 AM to 8 PM, CDT.  Next attempt at the Starlink launch will be Tuesday morning.  It's not like a long dry spell. 


  1. "you have to get used to disappointment in this business"....

    Truer words are rarely spoken.

    You also have to get used to late/missed meals, lack of sleep, long hours on-console, and coffee. We were lucky that the ship had excellent coffee!

  2. What a great show above. You lucky SOB.

    I burned an hour on youtube waiting for the SN6 hop. I'll probably do that again today...

    1. There's only a handful of places on the planet where you can regularly watch launches, and even fewer where you can watch the rockets come back. I'm extremely fortunate to have been led here by my career - and stayed.

      I burned far more than an hour waiting for the SN6 hop, although I didn't watch or pay attention to every minute of the day.

      AFAIK, the hop won't be till Thursday the 3rd at the earliest.