Could it be they're doing far more than everyone else?
Next CRS mission Go for Thursday night launch
If you're within a couple of hundred miles of the Kennedy Space Center, cargo
resupply mission CRS-29 (CRS stands for "Commercial Resupply Services") is
set to liftoff Thursday night from launch complex 39A at the KSC. The date/time is November 9th at 8:28 PM ET or Friday morning the
10th at 0128 UTC. Weather is forecast to be excellent over the East
Central Florida, with temperature at launch site of 74, winds ESE at 5 mph and
a 5% chance of rain. Melody Lovin, launch weather officer with Cape
Canaveral Space Force Station's 45th Weather Squadron, said chances of
acceptable weather are 95%. My guess is that the mission will take off
to the SE so should be visible from central and south Florida.
The Cargo Dragon will carry up more than 6,500 pounds of supplies and scientific hardware on this run, stay docked to the International Space Station for about a month, and then come back to Earth with about 3,800 pounds of cargo.
Dragon is the only cargo vehicle with this return capability. The other two robotic freighters that are operational today — Northop Grumman's Cygnus craft and Russia's Progress vehicle — are designed to burn up in Earth's atmosphere when their orbital missions are over.
This is the second mission for both the Falcon 9 booster and the Cargo Dragon capsule. The booster's first mission was the Crew 7 mission to the ISS. Landing will be Return to Launch Site, landing at LZ-1. The Cargo Dragon previously flew CRS-26 to the space station.
The Air Force Spaceplane X-37B will ride a Falcon Heavy to orbit.
The launch is scheduled a month away, NET December 7th, so there's a bit of a wait for it, and no launch time is
set - rather common for missions a month away. The spaceplane is
operated by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the U.S. Space Force.
The upcoming mission will be Orbital Test Vehicle 7 and the mission is
This will be the first time SpaceX will launch the spaceplane. Until
now, the launches have been on Atlas V launch vehicles. SpaceX was
awarded the $130 million contract in June 2018 to launch USSF-52, but as has
been the case with so many Falcon Heavy missions, was delayed by payload
The X-37B spaceplane is a derivative of the X-37A designed by NASA in the late 1990s to deploy from the Space Shuttle. The program later was transferred to the Defense Department. There are two X-37B spacecraft, which were originally designed for missions of 270 days, but have greatly exceeded that goal since the spaceplane’s first mission in 2010.
Starship Integrated Flight Test 2 Appears to be Imminent
The long awaited second Starship flight test appears to be imminent, possibly as early as next Monday, November 13. The FAA signed off on the safety review of April's IFT1 on Halloween, October 31st leaving the ball solely in the US Fish and Wildlife Service's hands. While they have a lot of time to complete the study, insider rumors are saying that could be completed as soon as this Friday.
Once that review is complete, which could happen this week, SpaceX will receive its FAA launch license. Technicians will install pyrotechnic charges on the Starship rocket to complete the arming of its flight termination system, the destruct mechanism needed to blow up the vehicle if it veers off course.
Then SpaceX will stack the Starship upper stage on top of the Super Heavy booster to create the fully formed, nearly 400-foot-tall (120-meter) launch vehicle, the largest rocket ever built. On launch morning, SpaceX teams will load more than 10 million pounds of methane and liquid oxygen into the two-stage rocket.
There are numerous changes to the ground infrastructure ("stage zero") as well as the vehicle, but it seems nothing draws as much attention as the introduction of "hot staging" in Starship. Stephen Clark at Ars Technica goes so far as to say "If the next Starship makes it through staging, you can call that a win." Personally, considering that SpaceX has been several steps ahead of the regulatory agencies since April, I think they need to make orbit and complete the "one and done" planned orbit. That was nearly seven months ago! Starship and Superheavy are extremely important to NASA and the Artemis lunar missions. Another failure, especially if it's early in the flight bringing another seven months of delays, could very well kill off or at least severely wound NASA's lunar landing plans.
Booster 9 and Ship 25, stacked recently. Thanks to the new interstage
ring for the hot staging, the vehicle is "a few" feet taller than the IFT1
stack. Image credit: SpaceX