Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Slow Day - So Only Two SpaceX Launches

I'm being slightly facetious; two launches in one day - even from opposite coasts of the US - isn't really slow, it's just not among the busiest days they've had.  Which is also to say that today's schedule was more than most other launch providers do in a month and more than some do in a year. 

The first launch of the day was this morning at around 10:24 AM ET from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station SLC-40. That was a launch of the Starlink 6-60 mission, 23 more satellites for the Starlink constellation. As luck would have it, I ended up being out of the house and missed it - by the time the sound from the launch gets here, the first stage has been dropped and it's hard to see anything. The booster for this mission was flying its 10th mission so we can't really call it a rookie, it's just nowhere near the fleet leader at 21 missions. Maybe the right word is that it's a Journeyman? (Remember when flying 10 times was unheard of?) The booster landed on A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic 8:15 after liftoff.

If you want to watch a video replay, SpaceX has it here. The coverage starts seven minutes before liftoff, so feel free to position the slider wherever you want it. 

The second mission of the day was for a paying customer, the European Space Agency, and is an Earth Observing Satellite called EarthCARE or the Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer. EarthCARE is a joint project of the ESA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (or JAXA) and was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base SLC-4E  at 6:20 PM ET. This booster was flying its seventh mission and returned to land beside the launch complex at 8:07 after liftoff. 

It's an interesting sounding mission to someone like this old radar designer, and the only difference between "light detection and ranging" and "radio detection and ranging" is the frequency they transmit and receive - which dramatically affects the things they can observe. From the ESA mission web page:

EarthCARE will employ high-performance lidar and radar technology that has never been flown in space before, with the objective to deliver unprecedented datasets to allow scientists to study the relationship of clouds, aerosols and radiation at accuracy levels that will significantly improve our understanding of these highly variable parameters.

There's a bit more succinct and easy to follow description at Space.com's coverage:

The mission will operate at an orbit similar in altitude to that of the ISS (250 miles, or 400 kilometers), but on a different plane: Instead of the more equatorial-focused ISS, EarthCARE will fly a sun-synchronous polar orbit that crosses the equator at local early afternoon, when sunlight is strongest in the region.

The mission will gaze down at particles of clouds and molecules of aerosols, or suspended particles in the atmosphere, to see how they interact with precipitation and how quickly they fall to our planet. EarthCARE will also "register the distribution of water droplets and ice crystals and how they are transported in clouds."

"This essential data will improve the accuracy of both cloud development models and their behavior, composition and interaction with aerosols, as well as improve future climate models and support numerical weather prediction," ESA officials added.

EarthCARE booster's landing at Vandenberg SFB. Screen capture from the SpaceX video of the launch

You may be aware that one of my main gripes about the climate catastrophists is how God-awful crappy their simulations are. "Wake me up when you can get clouds right" is my regular challenge. This looks like it could, potentially, get moving in that direction.

1 comment:

  1. Finally! Somebody taking REAL measurements! Let's hope they don't mutilate the raw data to go along with biases that the Ecoweenies have...