Friday, September 10, 2021

A Little Space News Roundup

As usual, a few things that caught my eye but aren't big enough for a full post.  All SpaceX this time.

Those of you watching SpaceX Boca Chica operations noticed that Booster 4 was indeed put onto the Orbital Launch Pad on Wednesday, after being transported to the launch complex on Tuesday and as I speculated in that post.  I don't see any obvious signs they're getting ready to test B4, but Teslarati puts up a tweet from Elon Musk saying, "Booster static fire on orbital launch mount hopefully next week."  I would guess late in the week.

Imagine these Raptors lighting up:

(Super Heavy B4. The orbital launch mount. Round 2. (@SPadre)) 

Their next launch from the Kennedy Space Center is the first fully all civilian, all commercially-conducted manned orbital mission, from Pad 39A, No Earlier Than (NET) 8PM EDT on September 14.  The mission, called Inspiration4, will launch a crew of four to orbit in a once-flown Crew Dragon capsule atop a twice-flown Falcon 9.

...Inspiration4 will be the first mission in history to send a crew of solely private astronauts into orbit. While only possible thanks to the patronage and resources of billionaire and mission commander Jared Isaacman, the hope is that Inspiration4 will mark the start of a new age of spaceflight – one where virtually anyone can feasibly dream of reaching orbit and experiencing Earth from hundreds of miles above.

Along for the ride with Isaacman will be Ph.D. geologist and science communicator Sian Proctor, engineer Christopher Sembroski (standing in for a friend), and physician’s assistant and childhood cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux. Isaacman is a long-time private pilot with substantial flight experience but none of the four have any prior experience with spaceflight and will have a few months of training at most when they lift off together later this month. While Isaacman’s success as a businessman and founder is the sole enabler behind Inspiration4, it’s likely that none of the three passengers he chose would have ever had the resources or wherewithal to reach orbit (or even a minute or two of “space” with Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin) on their own.

Netflix announced a mini-series on the mission months ago, and apparently started airing it on the 6th.  I don't have Netflix, but even I've heard about that series. 

After the Inspiration4 mission, SpaceX needs to reconfigure the pad for a the first Falcon Heavy launch since 2019, carrying the classified USSF-44 mission NET October 9th.  The liftoff time is apparently not publicly available yet.  This mission was initially scheduled for a late-2020 target, gradually slipping to Q1, Q2, Q3, and finally Q4 (October) of 2021.  These were all due to delays from the payload, not the rocket.  

This is the vehicle from the last Falcon Heavy mission in June of 2019 being transferred from the horizontal hanger where it's assembled up the ramps to the launch pad.  SpaceX photo.  It's a view few people get to see in real life, looking up along the three Falcon Heavy boosters toward the large payload fairing.  This scene is going to be repeated within another few weeks, depending on the launch of Inspiration4.

Assuming the mission goes off on October 9, or within a few days of that, they'll have to do another turnaround to Pad 39A, for the next mission to the ISS for NASA, called Crew 3.  


  1. What amazing times we live in. Unfortunately, they're a bit too "Interesting"....

  2. It will be neat to see the SpaceX launch on Tuesday (hopefully.)

    Too bad I don't have Netflix.