After repeated Council of Worlds slaps against Elon Musk’s Space X Falcon rocket launch and/or landings, during which the Zetas emphasized that a manned mission to Mars will not occur, they seem to have had a success. What is different about this launch and landing is that the ocean platform landing was not attempted. Instead, the stage one rocket was brought back to land in Florida. Was this the issue? Why the objection to the ocean platform landing? [and from another]  I understand the benefits of reusability for the rocket booster. But I don't understand why they're landing it on a barge. I've read tons of articles about this but not one has even hinted at an answer. Why is landing on a barge preferable over a launchpad or any other large flat surface that isn't moving with the waves? … Musk says the payload hit for RTLS (Return To Launch Site) is 30% vs a 15% payload hit for landing on a downrange ocean platform. … I see nobody seems to have mentioned the simplest reason why they're not landing on land: there isn't any. They launch east from Florida, and there aren't any islands in the Atlantic out there. [and from another]  The launch and landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida, were the first from the private U.S. spaceflight company since its rocket exploded on liftoff in June. SpaceX had not previously attempted to land a rocket on land, and it marked the firm's first successful attempt to recover a rocket from an orbital flight. Previous attempts, all unsuccessful, were attempted on floating landing pads. The 15-story first stage of rocket — used to propel the payload to 62 miles or so until the second stage takes over — successfully landed on Earth again at a prepared landing zone.

After repeated failures, which we described as warnings from the Council of Worlds, the Space X Falcon has successfully made a launch while relanding the booster rockets to Earth. What is the message here, amid this celebration? The trail of tears for Elon Musk included the Falcon exploding on launch last June 28, and the landing platform disaster on April 15. We explained that the Council was sending a message that the elite would not escape to Mars. Why then was the Falcon successfully launched with the booster rockets landed back in Cape Canaveral? Noticeably lacking this time was the landing on an ocean platform. 

Why is this key? Landing on an ocean platform did not make sense from a cost benefit analysis. Espoused for saving a mere 15% in fuel costs, it carried the overhead of the platform itself. Musk stated the reason for an ocean landing was to avoid a crash on land, near populated areas, during initial practice runs. But without a successful landing, this December 21 landing was done directly onto land. The real goal, an ocean platform landing AND launch, was dropped, so that simply launching satellites and resupplying the ISS would be involved for the present and in the future. 

Despite much crowing in the media about manned missions to Mars, all involved know this will never be accomplished. It is bravado and face saving. The missions to and from Mars would require operating during the Last Weeks and in the Aftertime, when Cape Canaveral in Florida will be awash and under water. Houston likewise will be quickly under water. The elite at NASA and hovering around Elon Musk are well aware of the ZetaTalk predictions and accuracy, and see how quickly Nibiru is approaching the Earth. They know that time is tight, the timeline compressing, and if a replacement for a land launch is not available, all is lost!

Source: ZetaTalk Chat Q&A for December 26, 2015

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Comment by M. Difato on February 16, 2021 at 5:36am

After successful launch, SpaceX fails to land booster on drone ship

SpaceX successfully launched its next batch of Starlink satellites into orbit on Monday from the Space Coast.

The rocket blasted off just before 11 p.m (Feb 15)., but SpaceX failed to land the booster as planned.

It was the sixth flight for the booster, but the failure to land it on the droneship means it is likely destroyed.

Comment by M. Difato on February 4, 2021 at 3:48pm

SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites on record-setting used rocket, nails landing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink internet satellites to orbit this morning (Feb. 4) on a mission that notched a booster-reusability milestone for the company.

A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with the 60 broadband spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station today at 1:19 a.m. EST (0619 GMT). 

Approximately nine minutes later, the rocket's first stage returned to Earth, landing smoothly on one of SpaceX's drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean. The massive ship, "Off from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station today (Feb 4) at 1:19 a.m. EST (0619 GMT). 

Approximately nine minutes later, the rocket's first stage returned to Earth, landing smoothly on one of SpaceX's drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean. The massive ship, "Of Course I Still Love You," is one of two SpaceX vessels that catch falling boosters and return them to port. 

It was the fifth launch for this Falcon 9 first stage, which last flew just 27 days ago — the quickest turnaround between missions for any SpaceX booster. Today's launch was also the first of two nearly back-to-back Starlink liftoffs; another 60 satellites are scheduled to take flight early Friday morning (Feb. 5) on a different Falcon 9.

Today's launch, dubbed Starlink 18, leapfrogged that coming flight, known as Starlink 17. Starlink 17 was supposed to get off the ground on Monday (Feb. 1) but was delayed due to poor weather in the recovery zone and the need for extra pre-flight checks. 

For a while, it looked like Starlink 17 would fly this morning as well. The Eastern Range, which oversees all launches from the U.S. East Coast, granted SpaceX approval to launch Starlink 17 today from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, next door to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, less than five hours after Starlink 18 took flight.  

If that had happened, it would have been the first time since 1966 that two orbital missions had launched from the Eastern Range on the same day, officials with the 45th Space Wing said via Twitter yesterday (Feb. 3). On Nov. 11, 1966, a Gemini rocket and an Atlas Agena launched just 99 minutes apart. 

This short turnaround time between Falcon 9 launches can happen because SpaceX operates from two different launch pads here in Florida and also because the Space Force has streamlined launch procedures. Such streamlining is possible partly because all Falcon 9 rockets are equipped with an automatic flight termination system (FTS), which reduces the amount of staff needed on console for any launch.

The FTS is a safety feature that will destroy a rocket in a controlled manner if something goes wrong during flight. Falcon 9 is currently the only American rocket that packs an automated FTS — meaning the rocket's onboard computer can detect if there's something wrong and, if so, either shut down the rocket's engines before liftoff or destroy the vehicle in flight. 

Other rockets rely on humans to make that call, but as a requirement set by the Space Wing, all future launchers (Blue Origin's New Glenn and United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur, for example) will also have this key feature.  

Double the launches

With today's successful launch, SpaceX has now deposited more than 1,000 Starlink satellites into orbit. And there are more launches coming; SpaceX’s initial Starlink constellation will consist of 1,440 satellites, and there could eventually be tens of thousands of spacecraft in the network.

Starlink 17, the other part of the doubleheader, was originally set to blast off Monday (Feb. 1). It was initially pushed 24 hours to allow for improved weather conditions at the recovery zone, then delayed several more times, causing it to switch places with Starlink 18. SpaceX relies heavily on its fleet of reused rockets, so the company wants to make sure that its recovery efforts are successful. 

Starlink 17 will mark just the second time that one of the company’s Falcon 9 first stages has flown eight times. The booster, known by the designation B1049, launched a Telstar communications satellite in September 2018, lofted an Iridium NEXT satellite in January 2019, and then flew five different Starlink missions.

A record launch

The Falcon 9 first stage for Starlink 18, booster B1060, set a new record today for the fastest turnaround time between flights: B1060 just ferried the Turksat 5A satellite into space for Turkey on Jan. 7. Before that, it had launched a GPS III satellite for the U.S. Space Force and lofted two other Starlink batches as well.

Today’s launch was the fourth of 2021 for SpaceX and the 17th overall Starlink mission. It was also the 107th flight overall for the workhorse Falcon 9, as well as the 73rd successful rocket landing for the company. 

SpaceX flew a record 26 missions in 2020, with 22 of them on refurbished rockets.

The current Falcon 9 iteration, which entered service in 2018, features the ability to fly multiple times with few refurbishments in between. That’s thanks to a series of upgrades — including a more robust thermal protection system, titanium grid fins and a more durable interstage — that facilitate reuse.

As such, SpaceX has relied heavily on its fleet of veteran rockets, having now reflown a total of 53 first-stage boosters since the first one landed on terra firma at Cape Canaveral in December 2015. 

SpaceX has its two drone-ship landing platforms — "Of Course I Still Love You" and "Just Read the Instructions" — in Florida, allowing it to launch (and land) more rockets. Both massive ships are stationed out at their respective recovery zones, awaiting action.

"Of Course I Still Love You" was recently refurbished following a busy 2020. It did its rocket-catching job today, and "Just Read the Instructions" will be called into action on Friday.

Falling fairings

SpaceX also has two fast net-equipped boats designed to recover falling payload fairings, the protective nose cones that surround satellites during launch. Both of these boats — GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief — have been deployed for action. They had been hanging out in the Port at Morehead City, North Carolina, until weather conditions improved and SpaceX could launch the Starlink 18 mission.

For most of the week, the seas in the recovery zone were too rough for the boats, but that cleared up today and the company could recover all of its hardware safely.

GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief will likely scoop both fairing pieces — SpaceX fairings come back to Earth in two halves — out of the ocean for future reuse. Both fairing halves on this mission have been used before. 

Comment by Juan F Martinez on February 2, 2021 at 10:34pm

SpaceX Starship EXPLODES while attempting to land during high-altitude test

A SpaceX prototype Starship SN9 has exploded after crashing down on its landing pad during a high-altitude test of the vehicle from the company’s site in southern Texas on Tuesday.

Comment by M. Difato on November 15, 2020 at 5:47pm

SpaceX’s latest Starship static fire test didn’t go as planned

SpaceX performed a static fire test of its latest Starship prototype this week (Nov 12), but not all went as planned.

This was the third static fire test of the SN8 prototype, in which the rocket is fueled as if it were to be launched, then fires its engines for a few seconds which remains attached to the ground. But this time the test experienced some issues. As the vehicle fired its engines, some kind of material could be seen dripping from the base of the prototype, as reported by This is not a normal part of the test and indicates that something was going wrong.

Fortunately, the prototype was not destroyed in the test (as has happened before), but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that there were issues.

“We lost vehicle pneumatics,” Musk said on Twitter. “Reason unknown at present. Liquid oxygen header tank pressure is rising. Hopefully triggers burst disk to relieve pressure, otherwise it’s going to pop the cork.”

He followed up with confirmation that the prototype was intact and seemed to be mostly functional, thanks to the burst disk — a safety device that releases pressure to prevent explosions. “Burst disk worked, so vehicle appears to be ok,” Musk said in a follow-up tweet. “We’ll have to swap out at least one of the engines.”

Observers also reported seeing sparks during the test, which Musk suggested could have been due to parts melting. “Maybe melted an engine preburner or fuel hot gas manifold. Whatever it is caused pneumatics loss,” he wrote in response to a query about the sparks. He went on to say that this was a problem that needed work at the design level: “We need to design out this problem.”

The Starship is SpaceX’s next-generation rocket which is intended to carry supplies and crew to the moon and eventually to Mars. As part of the design and testing process, SpaceX has built a number of prototypes of increasing complexity. The prototype in question, the SN8, is the first to have three Raptor engines as previous prototypes have had just one.

One static fire testing has been completed, the next phase is hop testing in which the prototype fires its engines and hovers in the air for a period of seconds.

Comment by M. Difato on August 30, 2020 at 12:44am

SpaceX eyes two Falcon 9 launches and a Starship hop in three days (Update: one day!)

Update: In a surprise twist, SpaceX has confirmed plans to launch SAOCOM 1B, Starlink-11, and hop Starship SN6 in less than ten hours on August 30th.

Contingent upon a ULA Delta IV Heavy launch on August 29th, Starlink-11 is scheduled to lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than (NET) 10:12 am EDT (UTC-4), followed by SAOCOM 1B on a separate Falcon 9 NET 7:18 pm EDT (UTC-4). Simultaneously, SpaceX is currently working towards a second full-scale Starship hop test between 8 am and 8 pm CDT (UTC-5) on Sunday, August 30th.


Pending an August 29th mission from competitor ULA, SpaceX aims to attempt two orbital Falcon 9 launches and a Starship hop test over the course of just a few days.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket was originally scheduled to launch the secretive National Reconnaissance Office 44 (NROL-44) spy satellite on Wednesday before the customer requested a 24-hour delay and technical rocket bugs pushed the mission to no earlier than (NET) August 27th and now August 29th. Delta IV Heavy’s low cadence of one or two annual launches has traditionally made it hard for the rocket to launch on time, offering very few opportunities for the company to work the kinks out of the complex system.

ULA’s NROL-44 launch currently holds precedence over other missions scheduled around the same time, meaning that SpaceX has no choice but to delay its own launches every time the ULA mission slips. SpaceX has two launches currently in queue: Argentinian Earth observation satellite SAOCOM 1B was scheduled to launch NET 7:19 pm EDT (UTC-4) on August 28th, while SpaceX’s 11th Starlink v1.0 launch was expected to lift off NET 10:08 am EDIT (UTC-4) on August 30th. Simultaneously, a SpaceX Starship prototype is tracking towards its first short hop somewhere in between those orbital launches. ULA’s second NROL-44 delay has thrown both SpaceX launch dates somewhat up in the air, however.

 SpaceX encapsulated SAOCOM 1B in Falcon 9’s payload fairing earlier this month. (CONAE)


ULA's Delta IV Heavy rocket scrubs again; SpaceX still trying to launch twice

Published August 29, 2020

Computers controlling United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy aborted a mission just seconds before its planned launch from Cape Canaveral early Saturday, marking the second scrub for the rocket and pushing its next attempt at least a week out.

Three seconds before the planned 3:28 a.m. liftoff from Launch Complex 37, a "Terminal Count Sequencer Rack" commanded the rocket's three RS-68A engines to stop firing and abort the launch. A reason for the hot fire abort was not immediately clear and a new liftoff window is at least a week away as teams work the issue.

"The team is currently reviewing all data and will determine the path forward," ULA said in a statement. "The required recycle time prior to the next launch attempt is seven days minimum."

The scrub came after teams worked through a separate anomaly related to out-of-limits temperatures in the rocket's interstage, which sits between the first and second stages. That pushed the liftoff time well into the window, initially opened at 2:04 a.m., but teams were able to resolve it and push forward.

The mission for the secretive National Reconnaissance Office, known as NROL-44, also suffered hardware issues during its first attempt early Thursday. Pneumatics in ground-based hardware weren't acting as expected, forcing ULA to scrub and delay to Saturday.

Moving forward, engineers will likely have to inspect and possibly swap out hardware impacted by the engines' brief firing.

"The bird is in good shape," ULA CEO Tory Bruno said via Twitter. "Cause appears to have been in the ground system. System functioned as intended to protect the vehicle and payload."

Elsewhere on the Eastern Range, SpaceX still appears to be targeting Sunday for two Falcon 9 launches a mere nine hours apart.

First up is the company's 12th mission to launch about 60 Starlink satellites from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A. That flight is expected at 10:12 a.m. and will include a drone ship landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunday's second launch, scheduled for 7:18 p.m., will boost an Argentinian communications satellite known as SAOCOM-1B southbound through a polar corridor, marking the Space Coast's first such mission since the 1960s. It will include a first stage landing at Cape Canaveral's Landing Zone 1, generating the Falcon 9 booster's signature triple sonic boom during the descent.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on August 24, 2020 at 4:44am

SpaceX’s First Starship Travelers Will Leave On A Lunar Journey In 2023

SpaceX, the rocket organization, established by Elon Musk, is working nonstop towards empowering people to become multi-planetary.

Architects are in the underlying period of creating Starship, monstrous hardened steel, a spaceship-rocket couple that will one day be fit for shipping one hundred travelers to the moon, Mars, and past.

A Japanese business visionary, Yusaku Maezawa, is assisting with subsidizing SpaceX’s Starship improvement. The one-week space visit is made arrangements for the year 2023; It will be the main lunar excursion by people since 1972. Starship won’t land on the lunar surface; rather, the specialty will fly on a circumlunar direction (around the moon), voyaging 238,900 miles from Earth.

Maezawa imagines changing his first space visit into an artistry venture, called “Dear Moon.” He says his motivation to make the Dear Moon venture came when he wound up envisioning what his preferred craftsmen would have made in the event that they had the benefit to head out to space. Imagine a scenario where Picasso had gone to the Moon. Or then again Andy Warhol or Michael Jackson or John Lennon? Shouldn’t something is said about Coco Chanel? These are largely specialists that I revere, he said during the task’s disclosing in September 2018.

Maezawa has not made open which craftsmen got a welcome, yet he might want them to speak to an assortment of craftsmanship fields, such as performers, movie chiefs, painters, originators, and others. I might want to welcome six to eight specialists from around the globe to go along with me on this crucial the Moon. These craftsmen will be approached to make something after they come back to Earth, and these works of art will motivate the visionary inside us all, he said.

Not long ago, Musk shared a lovely render of a performer playing violin in smaller scale gravity. Starship Concerto in Zero-G, he composed.

Musk has referenced on a few events he feels grateful that Maezawa booked a space visit to help support Starship’s advancement on the grounds that the installment Maezawa made for the Dear Moon strategic huge enough that it will “materially affect paying for cost and improvement of Starship,” Musk told correspondents – “He’s paying a great deal of cash that would help with the boat and its supporter. […] He’s eventually paying for the normal resident to head out to different planets.”

SpaceX groups are at present creating Starship in South Texas at an office situated in a little town called Boca Chica Beach. Specialists are fabricating different hardened steel models of the specialty, which are experiencing trying in a steady progression. Prior this month, a first huge scope model of Starship, named SN5, led a low-elevation dry run of 150-meters, video beneath.

SN5’s fruitful flight exhibited SpaceX’s designers’ capacity to build up a rocket that can dispatch and land perfectly controlled by a solitary Raptor motor. Presently, groups are getting ready to try out the following Starship in line, SN6, which will fly in a comparable direction, before taking a full-scale Starship on higher-height, 20 to 100-kilometer experimental drills. SN6 could take off when one week from now. Each dry run takes the organization closer towards propelling a Starship to circle.

Comment by M. Difato on August 4, 2020 at 4:19pm

SpaceX may fly a 16-story Starship prototype hundreds of feet into the air on Tuesday. Here's how to watch live video of the launch attempt from Texas.

  • SpaceX is developing a fully reusable rocket system called Starship-Super Heavy in Texas.
  • Before the vehicle can fly to orbit, the aerospace company needs to prove the system's core design works.
  • Elon Musk said that the latest Starship prototype, called SN5, could soon perform an experimental "hop" hundreds of feet into the air.
  • After experiencing an engine problem during a launch attempt on Monday, Musk said SpaceX will "figure out why" and try again Tuesday. 
  • Several groups should broadcast live video of the next attempt on YouTube. 

If you think grain silos can't fly, you may be in for a surprise on Tuesday.

SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, is fervently working to develop a fully reusable, 39-story rocket system in Boca Chica, a relatively remote region at the southeastern tip of Texas.

If the system, called Starship-Super Heavy, works as Musk has promised, it may reduce the cost of launching anything to space by about 1,000-fold, enable missions to the moon and Mars, and even allow for hypersonic travel around Earth.

But first, SpaceX has to see if its core designs for Starship work.

To that end, the company is moving briskly to build, test, and launch prototypes of the upper-stage spaceship, called Starship. According to a July 30 tweet from Musk, the first such full-scale vehicle will "hop" from a beachside launch site to about 492 feet (150 meters) in the air, hover parallel to the ground, and gently touch down on a concrete pad.

To tee up that test flight, SpaceX on July 30 successfully fueled and ignited a Raptor engine on its latest Starship prototype, called SN5 (short for "serial number 5").

Musk confirmed a launch attempt from Boca Chica on Monday evening, but the rocket fizzled when it was supposed to lift off the ground.

"Scrubbed for the day. A Raptor turbopump spin start valve didn't open, triggering an automatic abort," Musk tweeted shortly after the attempt. "We'll figure out why & retry tomorrow."

According to an FAA airspace notice posted on Monday morning, SN5 could fly between 9 a.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday. (For safety reasons, SpaceX is required to file such notices before launching rockets.)

Several groups with video cameras pointed at SpaceX's launch site streamed live footage of Monday's hop attempt, and they'll likely do so again Tuesday.

A YouTube feed by LabPadre shows the closest view of the SN5 prototype, while SPadre's continuous live feed (filmed from a rooftop on South Padre Island about six miles away) shows a very wide view. also streams live video and commentary of SpaceX's launch attempts. Their view on YouTube — courtesy of Boca Chica Village resident Mary McConaughey  — may offer the best all-around view and source of information.

SpaceX had hoped to attempt a flight of SN5 on July 27, but Hurricane Hanna damaged a component that had to be fixed, Musk said. A previous FAA notice suggested the company would try to fly SN5 on Sunday — the same day as its successful attempt to land two NASA astronauts in the Gulf of Mexico — but the launch window came and went. (SpaceX's Demo -2 was an historic test flight of the company's Crew Dragon spaceship, a vehicle developed with about $2.7 billion in NASA funding.)

SN5 is the latest of several full-scale Starship prototypes that SpaceX has built in Texas. The previous versions have either crumpled during tests or, as was the case on May 29, catastrophically exploded.

Each failure has taught SpaceX valuable lessons to inform design and material changes, tweaks that Musk says are already being worked into the SN6, SN7, and SN8 prototypes, which are in various stages of assembly within the company's expanding and bustling work yards in South Texas. Musk has said SpaceX may need to build as many as 20 different versions before reaching orbit.

The steel vehicles don't have wing-like canards or nosecones attached, in case something goes wrong in their earliest phases of testing, so they look more like flying fuel tanks or grain silos than rocket ships.

However, as last year's test launch of an early Starship prototype called Starhopper showed, the flights of even experimental vehicles (shown above) can impress: On August 27, Starhopper soared about 492 feet (150 meters) into the air, translated across a launch site, and landed on a nearby concrete pad.

SpaceX obtained a launch license from the FAA to send Starship prototypes on a "suborbital trajectory," meaning the experimental rocket ships could reach dozens of miles above Earth before returning and landing. However, it's uncertain if SpaceX eventually plans to launch SN5 on such an ambitious flight path if it survives the pending "hop."

The company couldn't attempt more ambitious flights until late August at the soonest, though.

On July 23, SpaceX asked the FCC for permission to communicate with prototypes flying as high as 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) within the next seven months. The earliest date noted on the request, which is still pending, is August 18..."


(May 29, 2020)  "SN4 is the fourth Starship prototype that has been destroyed in testing in a little more than six months.

The company’s Starship Mark 1 vehicle, unveiled at a media event in September 2019, was destroyed in November during a cryogenic pressurization test.

A second, SN1, was lost in a similar test Feb. 28.

A third prototype, SN3, crumpled in an April 3 test, apparently because of a misconfigured test setup.

Comment by M. Difato on July 25, 2020 at 5:50pm

Watch SpaceX catch an entire rocket nose cone that fell from space for the 1st time

It's an EPIC double play.

SpaceX just pulled off another rocket-reusability milestone — its first-ever payload fairing double catch.

The company managed to pluck out of the sky both halves of a Falcon 9 rocket's falling payload fairing shortly after the successful launch of a South Korean military satellite from Florida yesterday (July 20), SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said.

"Both fairing halves caught from space by @SpaceX ships!" Musk announced via Twitter yesterday evening. Then today, Musk unveiled video of the epic double play.

Those ships are GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief, both of which have been outfitted with big nets to catch falling fairings, the protective nose cones that surround satellites during launch. (SpaceX fairings come back to Earth in two pieces, explaining the need for two ships.)

SpaceX has caught a handful of fairing halves on previous missions, but this is the first time the company has managed to keep both pieces from a single launch out of the drink. 

Fairing catches are part of SpaceX's push to increase rocket reusability, an effort that's already in full swing. The company routinely lands and reflies the first stages of their two-stage Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. Indeed, yesterday's launch featured a Falcon 9 landing on a ship at sea, the 57th successful booster touchdown for SpaceX during an orbital launch.

It was the second landing for this particular booster, which also helped launch the Demo-2 test flight on May 30. Demo-2, SpaceX's first-ever crewed spaceflight, sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station aboard a Crew Dragon capsule.

 A SpaceX net-equipped ship catches half of a Falcon 9 rocket's payload fairing shortly after the launch of South   Korea's Anasis-II satellite on July 20, 2020. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy fairings — they're the same for both rockets — cost about $6 million apiece, Musk has said, so there's a strong incentive to reuse them. And reuse is tougher if fairings splash down, because seawater is highly corrosive. Hence the net-sporting boats. 

The upper stages of the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy remain expendable at the moment. SpaceX's next-gen spaceflight system, however, will be entirely reusable. The 100-passenger Starship spacecraft and giant Super Heavy rocket, which could begin launching operational missions as soon as next year, are designed to fly many times apiece, Musk has said.


I couldn't resist this post mostly for the photo and subheading, It's an EPIC "double" play. 

Relevent ZetaTalk Chat Q&A for May 31, 2020

( The Tribunals got around to Elon Musk )

Comment by M. Difato on June 15, 2020 at 9:52am

SpaceX launches 58 Starlink satellites and 3 Planet SkySats, nails rocket landing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX successfully launched its first rideshare mission into orbit today (June 13), lofting a new batch of 58 Starlink internet satellites along with three small Earth-observation satellites before nailing a Falcon 9 rocket landing at sea. 

It was a mostly clear morning, with just a few clouds above the launch pad here at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at liftoff. Onlookers were treated to an awesome view in the predawn sky — the glow from the rocket's engines were visible well into the flight as it launched at 5:21 a.m. EDT (0921 GMT).

The exhaust from the rocket was illuminated by the sun, which was just below the horizon. The resulting cloud appeared as a nebula hanging in the sky. 

"Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Starlink ocho," a SpaceX launch commentator said, referring to the mission's Starlink 8 in Spanish. 

The launch is the second Starlink mission so far this month, with one more on the schedule for no earlier than June 22. SpaceX is taking advantage of its fleet of flight-proven Falcon 9 boosters, with plans of launching a record four times in June. 

Because the sky was so clear, the landing burn — which enables the rocket to safely land on the drone ship — was clearly visible from the launch site, roughly 350 miles (600 km) away. 

Today's mission starred a veteran member of SpaceX's rocket fleet. The Falcon 9 — whose first stage already had two flights under its belt before today's mission — had a sooty appearance resulting from its previous trips through the atmosphere. 

The first stage of the Falcon 9 featured in today's mission is now a three-time flier, as it previously launched two SpaceX robotic resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) — CRS-19 in December 2019 and CRS-20 in March of this year

For its third mission, the booster known as B1059 carried 58 Starlink satellites into space, bringing to 540 the number of total Starlink craft launched to date. SpaceX has plans to launch thousands of Starlink satellites, so this is only the beginning. 

To that end, company founder and CEO Elon Musk has said that SpaceX will need at least 800 Starlink craft on orbit to begin providing moderate internet coverage to customers in the United States and Canada. The service will roll out to the rest of the world sometime after that. The initial Starlink megaconstellation is expected to include about 12,000 satellites.

While this mission carried the name Starlink 8 at SpaceX, it is actually the ninth flight to carry a batch of the internet satellites into orbit. The first 60-satellite launch occurred in May 2019.

A typical Starlink launch delivers 60 satellites into orbit, but this mission's reduced numbers allowed for additional satellites to climb on board. As part of a rideshare agreement with the Earth-imaging company Planet, SpaceX launched three small SkySat satellites — a first for the Starlink program. 

Planet has also booked room for three more SkySat satellites on a future Starlink mission, estimated to launch sometime this summer. However, SpaceX’s next Starlink launch will also share its payload fairing with another customer: Seattle-based BlackSky Global, which has booked a ride for two of its Earth-observing satellites.  

Planet's final six SkySats will join 15 others currently in orbit, but the newcomers will operate in different orbital planes. The original batch are flying in sun-synchronous orbit, which provides them with views of Earth's surface that are consistently bathed in sunlight. 

However, SkySats 16-21 will operate in a mid-inclination orbit of 53 degrees that offers "more targeted coverage and raw image capacity in key geographic regions," Planet representatives wrote in a blog post.

Approximately eight minutes after its successful liftoff this morning, B1059 separated from its upper stage and proceeded to perform a series of orbital ballet moves as it reoriented itself for landing. As the rocket travelled back through the atmosphere, it conducted a series of engine burns that slowed it enough to gently touch down on a floating platform waiting in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Dubbed “Of Course I Still Love You,” the massive drone ship is one of two vessels that SpaceX uses to catch its returning boosters. To date, the company has successfully recovered 54 first-stage boosters. Once they’re back in Florida's Port Canaveral, the boosters are transported back to SpaceX facilities, where they're carefully inspected and repurposed to fly again. 

SpaceX upgraded its Falcon 9 rocket in 2018, and this iteration — known as the "Block 5" — features 1.7 million pounds of thrust as well as some other upgrades that make it capable of rapid reuse. SpaceX officials have said that each of these boosters can fly as many as 10 times with few refurbishments in between, and as many as 100 times before retirement. (To date, SpaceX has launched and landed the same booster a maximum of five times.) 

 The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket first stage that launched the Starlink 8 mission made a smooth landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You after delivering 61 satellites into orbit on June 13, 2020.  (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX recently moved its second drone ship, “Just Read the Instructions,” to the Atlantic Ocean. The addition of a second drone ship operating in the same ocean will enable SpaceX to recover more rockets. It typically takes each drone ship two to three days to reach the landing site and then another two to three days to return to shore with the booster. If SpaceX expects to keep up its launch cadence of nearly one flight per week, we could see both ships getting a lot of action soon. 

Thanks to the sheer number of satellites in orbit, SpaceX is operating the largest satellite fleet ever. Ever since its first Starlink launch, the company has come under fire from astronomers and scientists around the world over concerns that the constellation's apparent brightness will disrupt astronomical observations

To that end, SpaceX has been experimenting with different ways of reducing the satellites' brightness. Musk and SpaceX have said that they will be adding special sunshades to future Starlink satellites. These will act as a visor of sorts that limits the craft's reflectivity. 

During the previous Starlink launch, SpaceX outfitted a single satellite with this new sun visor to test how it works on orbit. While this latest batch of 58 satellites does not have the sunshades installed, SpaceX has said that all future launches, beginning with Starlink 10, will have them. 

The weather was not expected to be an issue for today’s launch attempt, as the 45th Weather Squadron estimated there to be a 30% chance of a scrub. While tricky weather is not unique here in Florida, what is unique for this mission is the team monitoring it. 

The 45th Weather Squadron operates out of Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and is the team responsible for making the go/no-go call for liftoff. Squadron personnel determine if the weather is acceptable for launch. For the first time in the Squadron’s history, the team on console was all women

The team, composed of three military and three civilian launch weather officers, is responsible for monitoring a myriad of issues that could potentially delay the launch. These issues include cloud height and distribution, the potential for lightning and how much electricity is in the atmosphere. 

The historic event, like NASA's recent all-female spacewalk from the ISS, occurred by happenstance. Capt. Nancy Zimmerman, the launch weather director, said that prior to 2018, there was only one female launch weather officer. Now the team is about half women and half men, so we should see this distribution happen more often. 

The hardware is simple enough that anyone can install it, according to Musk, who has said the terminals look like a "UFO on a stick." The terminals will come with just two basic instructions — plug in and point at the sky — and are equipped with actuators that ensure they're pointing where they should be at all times, Musk has said.

On Friday, Steve Jurvetson (co-founder of Future Ventures as well as a SpaceX and Tesla board member) tweeted about his experience with a Starlink user terminal. He described it as "the simplest out-of-the-box experience imaginable."

SpaceX has already completed two successful missions this month, with two more flights on the docket for June: another batch of Starlink satellites as well as an upgraded GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force

Correction: This story was updated to correct the distance between the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean and SpaceX's launch site during today's rocket launching. It was about 350 miles, not 600 miles. 

Comment by Juan F Martinez on June 14, 2020 at 5:24pm

Falcon 9 launch from Florida's Space Coast, June 13.  

Photos @johnpisaniphoto via Twitter

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