Saturday, December 18, 2021

An Interesting Couple of Days

Yesterday, during the first road closure for last week, there was a Cryo test of Booster 4 on the Orbital Launch Mount where it was moved Monday.  These tests aren't much to look at, but they're absolutely essential.  It turns out that around that time, another test was apparently going on that's a quite a bit more interesting to watch.  You get to watch six seconds of all of these Raptor engines being steered around a circle. 

Later overnight, 4:41 AM PST, the last batch of Starlink satellites to launch this year rode into orbit on a record-setting mission; this was the 11th flight of booster B1051 along with a successful landing on drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, marking the first time that they've pushed past their original  10 flight goal for boosters.  No orbital booster known has ever flown 11 times.  

The launch is at the 16 minute mark (16:00) of this video, and there's just a brief, grainy view of B1051 standing on the deck of OCISLY at the 25:00 minute mark.  If I was doing a Siskell and Ebert-type review for this coverage, I wouldn't rate it as highly as some others.  Night launches are tough to cover, though.

Tonight at 10:58 PM EST, another Falcon 9 will launch Turksat 5B for that country from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base, launch complex 40.  Weather looks to be giving a high chance of launch and with the full moon, it should be pretty.  

Finally, on Tuesday the 21st at 5:02 AM EST, we expect the last Falcon 9 launch of the year,  CRS 24, from pad 39A on the Cape.  The Falcon 9 will launch a Dragon 2 spacecraft on its fourth cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.  I see the weather as being more iffy for that launch.  The long range forecasts have been calling for a frontal passage around Monday night/Tuesday morning and the rain chances are peaking close to that launch time.  I wouldn't be surprised to see them slip that mission out a day or even two - because while rain chances go down, winds go up through Wednesday. 


  1. I saw the rocket motor gimbaling test on Twitter. That is amazing. In that same Tweet thread, Musk stated that they will add 4 more motors to those 9 and when Raptor 2 is operational the thrust will increase about 24%.

    All of that is almost unbelievable except for the fact that it is happening.

    1. Not only that but SS gets THREE more RVAC engines. Holy cow!

      si, have you perused the Lab Padre camera sites to watch Starbase and all that good stuff? It's breathtaking what Musk has done in two short years!

    2. Igor, I subscribe to Lab Padre and watch pretty much every day, even if I just check in to see if anything is going on.

      BillB, I had thought the emphasis on getting to Raptor 2.0 was for manufacturability but maybe it is for the thrust. The higher thrust is necessary for their plans.

      A guy I worked with was here during the Saturn V days and he told a story about trying to get to the north side of the Cape for one of the launches. There's a drainage canal that runs alongside that road and he said he could see the water splashing up in the canal at regular spacing from the sound pressure of the engines. The spacing figures to be from the frequencies of the repeating shocks.

      Last I've heard, Starship will have around twice the thrust of a Saturn V. I wonder what those splashes will be like.

    3. SiG, I was of the same mind as you on the Raptor 2.0 until I read that.

      I live about 5-6 hours north of Boca Chica. My wife and I have discussed going there to enjoy the beach, eat sea food and do it at a time when we can watch a Starship launch so as to be able to hear that sound. I do wonder though about the sound difference between the few much larger engines and the many smaller engines; it may not be quite as "booming".