Monday, January 3, 2022

First Week of the Year; First Launch of the Year

It took until today, with the sources I read the most often back at work, to learn recovery drone ship A Shortfall Of Gravitas (ASOG) left Saturday - New Year's Day - for a trip down to NE of the Bahamas in support of SpaceX's first launch of the year.  That mission will launch No Earlier Than Thursday January 6 at 4:49 PM EST.  The launch is the next batch of Starlink satellites called Group 4-5.

This is a rare launch for us here south of the Cape.  The trajectory out of the Cape will be toward the southeast while the vast majority have been toward the northeast.  We might get a better look at this one.  Twitter user Raul74CZ posts:

LHA map for #Starlink Group 4-5 from KSC LC-39A NET 06 Jan, altern. 07 to 10 Jan based on issued NOTMAR/NOTAMs. Estimated groundtrack, booster landing ~637km downrange, fairing recovery ~673km downrange. S2 reentry during second orbit in South Atlantic.

The LHA is the Launch Hazard Area, and the map looks like this.  The blue marker is where the booster will land while green is where the fairings will splash down. 

The Twitter Link also includes an estimate of where the second stage will reenter.  That will be the second orbit, so less than three hours after launch, and the area where it will splash into the south Atlantic stretches from just offshore Uruguay in the southern reaches of South America over across Africa into the Indian Ocean far south of the southern tip of Africa, extending farther east than Madagascar and still far south of it.

As we pointed out last Thursday, unofficial but usually-accurate estimates of the year's launch manifest for SpaceX is 40 launches not including all Starlink launches.  They could easily be looking at adding another 10 or 12 Starlink launches this year totaling out to one launch per week.  



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