Friday, September 4, 2020

Thursday We Had The Other Two Out of Three

On Sunday, I remarked that I got up expecting three milestones from SpaceX including two Falcon 9 launches in one day.  While I'm not sure nobody in history has launched two orbital missions in one day, I'd be surprised if it had happened.  

Thursday morning saw the Falcon 9 Starlink mission that was scrubbed Sunday morning due to weather.  Launch was on time at 8:48 AM and the 60 satellites were delivered to orbit as planned.  Booster B1060 landed on the drone ship OCISLY about 360 miles northeast of the cape 9 minutes later.  No word on the fairings or if there was an attempt to recover them.  Ordinarily, I'd assume there would be, but with the SACOM-1B mission on Sunday, they might have had to choose where to send their only two recovery ships.  

This marks the 11th flight of Version 1 Starlink satellites and 12th overall.  Assuming all 60 satellites on this mission pass their checkout, SpaceX now has around 650 usable satellites up there (ride share missions have left a few satellites out of the 60).  This ignores any satellites that might have failed on orbit and been lost - there have been reports of five being lost.  There are two more Starlink launches set for this month and one in October.  So far.

As usual, there's a full mission video with commentary covering the last minutes of the countdown and lasting until the satellites are deployed.  

After Sunday's scrub of the planned hop of Starship prototype SN6, due to high winds, SpaceX targeted Thursday for the next day they'd try with backup days of Friday and Saturday.  Unlike other hop attempts, the required work went smoothly and the hop went nominally. SN6 lifted off within five hours of the Starlink mission. 

Plans now are for the destructive test of serial number 7.1, already built and waiting to be carried out to the test site.  This will test the most likely flight construction of the Starship, using 304L (low carbon) stainless steel sheet.  This is scheduled for as early as Sunday, with road closures in the area from 8AM to 8PM.  

Behind that is one that's a major step in the prototyping, serial number 8.  

If things go according to plan, Starship SN8 will be the first ship to fly with a nosecone, flaps, header tanks, and three Raptor engines. The ship will also be the first to attempt a truly bizarre skydiver-style landing, in which SN8 will essentially fall through the atmosphere belly-first before flipping upright at the last second for a soft landing.

To do that maneuver, SN8 will hop much higher than 5 and 6 have; to "tens of thousands" of feet.  Behind SN8, the very fist Super Heavy booster stage is scheduled to start construction soon, once the high bay is completed.  It's currently close, but not fully complete. 




  1. Wicked cool.

    So what has... Boeing, LockMart, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin and all the rest done this week?

    (insert sound of space crickets...)

    1. SpaceX is doing far more. Which is why SpaceX gets the smallest NASA contracts. They do more on their own dime.


      In that NASA contract for a lunar lander, that SpaceX proposed a custom version of Starship for, Blue Origin got $579 Million, Dynetics got $253 M and SpaceX got $125 M. That's Dynetics, not L Ron Hubbard's Dianetics. At least in principle ;-)

  2. Yup....they've done nothing.

    SpaceX is running at Warp 9, and the others? Not even out of the gate yet....

  3. Imagine the dust cloud in a low G environment of no atmosphere. How long will the cloud remain suspended? Sure, it's a factor of particle size and specific weight and other factors yet how would instrumentation and, well everything, not be coated with a blanket of dust for months or longer?

    1. As daniel_day implies, it only matters with an atmosphere.

      Mars has a very thin atmosphere compared to Earth, so it won't be as bad as Texas. But Mars has those planetary dust storms where dust is everywhere for months. I suspect those will the thing that's harder to deal with.

  4. LOVE the tempo. Can't wait to see SN8.