Author Topic: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities  (Read 12972 times)

Offline acsawdey

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SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« on: 06/03/2016 05:26 PM »
I found some interesting stuff pertaining to SpaceX's plans for landing first stages at VAFB, so others suggested I should start a separate thread for this.

The application (second link below) has some details about boostback and landing including 3-D trajectory back to the landing pad or the ASDS offshore, noise impact from sonic boom and rocket engines, what debris was recovered from the failed landings, and probably other things I didn't recognize as significant.

Quote
In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to Space Explorations Technology Corporation (SpaceX), to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals incidental to boost-backs and landings of Falcon 9 rockets at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and at a contingency landing location approximately 30 miles offshore.

Federal Register: Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Boost-Backs and Landings of Rockets at Vandenberg Air Force Base

And this time I found the application materials as well:

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Recovery in California and the Pacific Ocean (2016)

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #1 on: 06/03/2016 06:03 PM »
Great find... thanks for starting this thread. The federal register thing dates back a bit though, does it not? Or was there a similar notice in the past for something else SpaceX related?
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline yokem55

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #2 on: 06/03/2016 06:52 PM »
Do other launch providers that just drop their stages into the ocean have to file such things? Seems to me dropping a whole atlas v or delta stage into the ocean would pose more risk to the whales than trying to recover them....

In other news, I want a "Save the whales, fly SpaceX" t-shirt .
« Last Edit: 06/03/2016 06:53 PM by yokem55 »

Offline acsawdey

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #3 on: 06/03/2016 07:25 PM »
Great find... thanks for starting this thread. The federal register thing dates back a bit though, does it not? Or was there a similar notice in the past for something else SpaceX related?

I believe I had noticed and posted the preliminary government response earlier, which was also in the federal register. This is the final ruling, and this time there was enough information to find SpaceX's application that was submitted which is where the interesting stuff is.

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #4 on: 06/03/2016 08:24 PM »
Do other launch providers that just drop their stages into the ocean have to file such things? Seems to me dropping a whole atlas v or delta stage into the ocean would pose more risk to the whales than trying to recover them....

In other news, I want a "Save the whales, fly SpaceX" t-shirt .

It isn't whales, it is pinnipeds.

Offline rpapo

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #5 on: 06/03/2016 08:32 PM »
Do other launch providers that just drop their stages into the ocean have to file such things? Seems to me dropping a whole atlas v or delta stage into the ocean would pose more risk to the whales than trying to recover them....

In other news, I want a "Save the whales, fly SpaceX" t-shirt .

It isn't whales, it is pinnipeds.
Even less to worry about, then.  Pinnipeds (seals) stick relatively close to shore.
An Apollo fanboy . . . fifty years ago.

Offline acsawdey

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #6 on: 06/03/2016 08:38 PM »
Even less to worry about, then.  Pinnipeds (seals) stick relatively close to shore.

One of the inputs to the calculation is the average number of pinnipeds per square kilometer of open ocean for a whole bunch of species likely to be found in the area of the ASDS. As you say, not very many.

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #7 on: 06/03/2016 10:35 PM »
Do other launch providers that just drop their stages into the ocean have to file such things? Seems to me dropping a whole atlas v or delta stage into the ocean would pose more risk to the whales than trying to recover them....

In other news, I want a "Save the whales, fly SpaceX" t-shirt .

It isn't whales, it is pinnipeds.
Even less to worry about, then.  Pinnipeds (seals) stick relatively close to shore.

it isn't a threat from debris, it is the sonic booms that make them rush to the water trampling the pups.

Offline llanitedave

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #8 on: 06/03/2016 11:04 PM »
The solution is obvious:  require the sea lions to wear hearing protection.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline hamerad

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #9 on: 06/04/2016 01:01 AM »
The solution is obvious:  require the sea lions to wear hearing protection.

That just reminded me of this tweet.
https://mobile.twitter.com/talulahriley/status/320421724644573184

And the followup

https://mobile.twitter.com/talulahriley/status/320422298618302464

Sorry if offtopic

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #10 on: 06/04/2016 01:21 AM »
The solution is obvious:  require the sea lions to wear hearing protection.
Better solution is to play music gradually louder prior to the launch so as not to startle the sea lions. My suggestion is Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. :) Yes, from loudhailers mounted in helos like in  the Apocalypse Now movie.

Quite sure the sea lions will get use to the noise. After all the Rocket Cows of McGreger take the SpaceX engine tests as non-events.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2016 01:31 AM by Zed_Noir »

Offline chalz

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #11 on: 06/04/2016 01:23 AM »
This post first mentioned the EIS for the Vandenberg pad. Some discussion and seal jokes followed.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36513.msg1511192#msg1511192

Offline WizZifnab

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #12 on: 06/04/2016 04:56 AM »
And this time I found the application materials as well:

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Recovery in California and the Pacific Ocean (2016)

Typo on the effective date?  I assume thats meant to be a full year 6/30/2016-6/29/2017.

Offline acsawdey

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #13 on: 11/10/2016 06:18 PM »
Looks like SpaceX has now got the all-clear to do both ASDS and RTLS from SLC-4W at Vandenberg AFB. Or, at least they've cleared the environmental hurdles and can now ask FAA for licenses to do so.

Quote
After reviewing and analyzing available data and information on existing conditions and potential
impacts, including the 2016 EA, the FAA has determined the issuance of licenses to SpaceX to conduct
Falcon 9 boost-backs and landings at SLC-4W or on a barge would not significantly affect the quality of
the human environment within the meaning of NEPA. Therefore, the preparation of an environmental
impact statement is not required, and the FAA is independently issuing this FONSI. The FAA has made
this determination in accordance with applicable environmental laws and FAA regulations. The 2016 EA
is incorporated by reference into this FONSI.

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/licenses_permits/media/ea_fonsi_f9_boostback_vafb.pdf

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #14 on: 11/10/2016 06:40 PM »
Looks like SpaceX has now got the all-clear to do both ASDS and RTLS from SLC-4W at Vandenberg AFB.

Still need Air Force clearance

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #15 on: 01/04/2017 09:33 AM »
Looks like SpaceX has now got the all-clear to do both ASDS and RTLS from SLC-4W at Vandenberg AFB.

Still need Air Force clearance

Anybody know the hang-up in getting USAF approval?
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Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #16 on: 09/11/2017 06:30 AM »
Doesn't give a timeframe for FAA approval but claims most steps in the approval process are completed:

Quote
SpaceX close to landing rocket boosters next to its Southern California launch site

By: Sandy Mazza (sandy.mazza@dailybreeze.com)

POSTED: Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 - 3:14 p.m.
UPDATED: A DAY AGO

http://www.dailybreeze.com/business/20170910/spacex-close-to-landing-rocket-boosters-next-to-its-southern-california-launch-site

Also talks about something else interesting I've missed:

Quote
While SpaceX hopes to rely on it for most West Coast landings, it also proposed to operate a second Pacific Ocean landing barge 31 miles off the Santa Barbara County coastline to recover boosters diverted from the ground by sensitive base operations.

Some more details in the article (including feedback from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service).

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #17 on: 09/11/2017 11:24 AM »
Doesn't give a timeframe for FAA approval but claims most steps in the approval process are completed:

Quote
SpaceX close to landing rocket boosters next to its Southern California launch site

By: Sandy Mazza (sandy.mazza@dailybreeze.com)

POSTED: Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 - 3:14 p.m.
UPDATED: A DAY AGO

http://www.dailybreeze.com/business/20170910/spacex-close-to-landing-rocket-boosters-next-to-its-southern-california-launch-site

Also talks about something else interesting I've missed:

Quote
While SpaceX hopes to rely on it for most West Coast landings, it also proposed to operate a second Pacific Ocean landing barge 31 miles off the Santa Barbara County coastline to recover boosters diverted from the ground by sensitive base operations.

Some more details in the article (including feedback from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service).

Why would they need a second barge? Flight rate on west coast isnt high enough to need 2nd ASDS there.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #18 on: 09/11/2017 12:38 PM »
They don't need two Pacific barges.

Maybe the SpaceX documentation for VAFB referred to JRtI as their "second Pacific barge" (OCISLY at the Cape being their first Atlantic barge) and the reporter got confused and thought they meant two barges in the Pacific, rather than a second SpaceX barge, which is based the Pacific.
« Last Edit: 09/11/2017 12:54 PM by Kabloona »

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #19 on: 09/11/2017 03:01 PM »
Yeah, kabloona's interpretation matches mine as well.  The original article itself is very ambiguous about what it means by "second barge"; there's no clear statement they mean anything other than "first is Atlantic, second is Pacific".

Offline DOCinCT

Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #20 on: 09/11/2017 04:23 PM »
Maybe I missed something but isn't a launch with 9 Merlin engines firing a lot louder than a single Merlin engine during final approach and landing? (Ignoring the issue of the double sonic boom here).

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #21 on: 09/11/2017 04:55 PM »
Quote
While SpaceX hopes to rely on it for most West Coast landings, it also proposed to operate a second Pacific Ocean landing barge 31 miles off the Santa Barbara County coastline to recover boosters diverted from the ground by sensitive base operations.


Yeah, kabloona's interpretation matches mine as well.  The original article itself is very ambiguous about what it means by "second barge"; there's no clear statement they mean anything other than "first is Atlantic, second is Pacific".

Perhaps he meant "second, Pacific Ocean, landing barge"
Punctuation is really important.
And we all know the "31 km" stuff is just nonsense.  The ASDS goes where it needs to go.
Now the "diverted from the ground by sensitive base operations" is really interesting.  Where, I wonder, did he get that?

The gist seems to be
Quote
Federal regulators, still poring over the companyís Vandenberg landing-license application, declined to release any time line for the process....

but it doesn't seem possible to
Quote
do some mitigating preparations to protect ocean life from sonic booms
other than to put helmets with ear covers on the seals.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline deruch

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #22 on: 09/12/2017 01:00 AM »
Now the "diverted from the ground by sensitive base operations" is really interesting.  Where, I wonder, did he get that?
It's directly from the NOAA Fisheries Environmental Assessment report.
Quote
The contingency action is necessary to provide for an alternative landing location if the Western Range deems that the first stage overflight of south VAFB is unacceptable due to potential impacts to critical assets or weather conditions or mission parameters do not permit for a successful landing attempt.  In this case,  the First Stage would be landed on an autonomous drone ship, no less than 31 mi. (50 km) offshore of VAFB.

The full EA can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research/spacex_2016iha_ea.pdf
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #23 on: 09/12/2017 03:48 AM »

but it doesn't seem possible to
Quote
do some mitigating preparations to protect ocean life from sonic booms
other than to put helmets with ear covers on the seals.

Or give them headphones playing Barry White.

https://mobile.twitter.com/TalulahRiley/status/320421724644573184/photo/1


Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #24 on: 10/09/2017 03:14 PM »
Nice photo from Shorealone Films flickr shots prior to the Iridium 3 launch

Offline old_sellsword

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #25 on: 10/09/2017 05:15 PM »
Nice photo from Shorealone Films flickr shots prior to the Iridium 3 launch

Looks like they are prepping to test post landing servicing of S1 at west coast landing facility

That first stage is F9R Dev 2 and it has nothing to do with SLC-4W except that the area itís sitting on was unused space. Itís been at VAFB for a long time, and outdoors in that exact same location for almost a year now; it got kicked out of the HIF as Iridium-1 approached in late 2016.

Offline Wolfram66

Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #26 on: 10/09/2017 05:27 PM »
Nice photo from Shorealone Films flickr shots prior to the Iridium 3 launch

Looks like they are prepping to test post landing servicing of S1 at west coast landing facility

That first stage is F9R Dev 2 and it has nothing to do with SLC-4W except that the area itís sitting on was unused space. Itís been at VAFB for a long time, and outdoors in that exact same location for almost a year now; it got kicked out of the HIF as Iridium-1 approached in late 2016.

Revised:Looks like they are prepping to test post landing servicing of S1 at west coast landing facility

Offline biosehnsucht

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #27 on: 10/10/2017 02:30 AM »
At this point, is the hardware F9R Dev2 sits on (the wheel truck or whatever) worth more than F9R Dev2 itself?

Online SweetWater

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #28 on: 10/10/2017 03:15 AM »
At this point, is the hardware F9R Dev2 sits on (the wheel truck or whatever) worth more than F9R Dev2 itself?

It is hard to know exactly where the F9R Dev2 vehicle fits in the development of Falcon 9, especially given the different block versions, etc. However, we know that SpaceX will be using previously flown Falcon 9 1st stages as the boosters for (at least) the first Falcon Heavy.

This is total speculation on my part. However, they have known for some time that they will never be using the F9R Dev2 vehicle for its intended purpose. It seems to me that if this vehicle could have been modified into a usable booster - block 3, 4, FH booster, etc. - they would have done so.

Offline vanoord

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #29 on: 10/10/2017 09:35 AM »
Slightly OT, but F9R Dev 2 is a Falcon 9 v1.1 - probably built in late 2013 and something like the 7th 'Octaweb' Falcon off the production line (but it's a bit unclear).

IIRC the pads / TELs were modified for v1.2 Falcons (B1019 upwards), so it can't easily be launched.

If they do need a core stage for testing the in-flight abort of Dragon 2, then there are plenty of recovered cores lying around they could use - with a lot less hassle than re-working this one.

Presumably at some point it'll be scrapped, but whether doing so is worth the hassle is perhaps debatable.

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #30 on: 10/10/2017 01:02 PM »
At this point, is the hardware F9R Dev2 sits on (the wheel truck or whatever) worth more than F9R Dev2 itself?

no, they are likely wooden cradles like seen on the east coast

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #31 on: 10/10/2017 01:32 PM »
no, they are likely wooden cradles like seen on the east coast

They're not. If you look closely you can see wheels on the rear section and the front has the older booster cap attached.

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #32 on: 10/10/2017 03:37 PM »
no, they are likely wooden cradles like seen on the east coast

They're not. If you look closely you can see wheels on the rear section and the front has the older booster cap attached.

They could be out dated and only useful for V1

Offline vanoord

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #33 on: 10/10/2017 05:51 PM »
They could be out dated and only useful for V1

Might be crossed wires, but F9R Dev 2 is a v1.1 core, so very close to current version spec..

Any cradle may not, of course, be compatible on a technical / services level (which may be your point?).

Or, it's a v1.0 spec cradle which isn't used because it's not compatible with v1.2 or v1.3 (Block 4), so it's not an issue parking a v1.1 core on it.
« Last Edit: 10/10/2017 05:53 PM by vanoord »

Offline vaporcobra

Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #34 on: 10/10/2017 07:39 PM »
Definitely looks like VIP guests were given a tour of LZ-2! https://www.instagram.com/p/BaDepS4Fwsy/
spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace

Offline Tomness

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #35 on: 10/10/2017 08:01 PM »
Definitely looks like VIP guests were given a tour of LZ-2! https://www.instagram.com/p/BaDepS4Fwsy/

So Chris G, and other VIP NSFer that got this nugget, can you comment yet? :D

Offline acsawdey

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #36 on: 10/25/2017 06:49 PM »
The NOAA notice of the public comment period on F9 boostback and landing at SLC-4W and on the ASDS and its affects on marine mammals.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/10/25/2017-23134/takes-of-marine-mammals-incidental-to-specified-activities-taking-marine-mammals-incidental-to

[edit: deruch pointed out it's not final]
« Last Edit: 10/26/2017 04:18 PM by acsawdey »

Offline deruch

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #37 on: 10/26/2017 02:44 PM »
The final NOAA judgement on F9 boostback and landing at SLC-4W and on the ASDS and its affects on marine mammals.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/10/25/2017-23134/takes-of-marine-mammals-incidental-to-specified-activities-taking-marine-mammals-incidental-to

Technically, that's not the final judgement.  That's the notice to publicize the public comment period on the proposed grant, which ends on November 24th.  After which point, they will issue their final grant.  By the way, this is just for the next year after which they'll have to renew.

Quote
Dates and Duration

The planned project would occur from December 1, 2017 through November 30, 2018. Up to twelve Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities would occur per year. Precise dates of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities are not known. Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities may take place at any time of year and at any time of day. The IHA, if issued, would be valid from December 1, 2017 through November 30, 2018.

Quote
Mitigation

Unless constrained by other factors including human safety or national security concerns, launches would be scheduled to avoid boost-backs and landings during the harbor seal pupping season of March through June, when practicable.

The full SpaceX application documentation should be (but isn't as of the time of writing this comment) available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm
« Last Edit: 10/26/2017 03:02 PM by deruch »
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Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #38 on: 10/26/2017 03:56 PM »
FWIW the document indicates no significant harrassment of marine mammals from ASDS landings.  So even if landings are limited during harbor pup season, it would only be RTLS that would be affected. The core wouldn't be expended.

Offline deruch

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #39 on: 10/26/2017 04:35 PM »
FWIW the document indicates no significant harrassment of marine mammals from ASDS landings.  So even if landings are limited during harbor pup season, it would only be RTLS that would be affected. The core wouldn't be expended.

Yeah, the harassment occurs mainly to animals that are on the beach and scared into the water by the sonic booms and landing burn noise.
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

Offline StuffOfInterest

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #40 on: 10/27/2017 06:27 PM »
FWIW the document indicates no significant harrassment of marine mammals from ASDS landings.  So even if landings are limited during harbor pup season, it would only be RTLS that would be affected. The core wouldn't be expended.

Yeah, the harassment occurs mainly to animals that are on the beach and scared into the water by the sonic booms and landing burn noise.

I thought the harassment was mainly in the form of capturing seals, strapping them to boards, putting headphones on them, and playing boom sounds to see how they react.
« Last Edit: 10/27/2017 06:29 PM by StuffOfInterest »

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #41 on: 10/28/2017 05:42 AM »
During our remote camera setup next to the Iridium launch pad two weeks ago, we noticed a team down the slope, setting up 6 microphones stands.

Not sure if this is part of ongoing sound data collection for RSTL...

Offline catdlr

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #42 on: 10/28/2017 05:53 AM »
During our remote camera setup next to the Iridium launch pad two weeks ago, we noticed a team down the slope, setting up 6 microphones stands.

Not sure if this is part of ongoing sound data collection for RSTL...

maybe similar to this project a few years back:  http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/vafb_report.pdf
Tony De La Rosa

Offline deruch

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Re: SpaceX VAFB landing facilities
« Reply #43 on: 10/28/2017 07:07 AM »
During our remote camera setup next to the Iridium launch pad two weeks ago, we noticed a team down the slope, setting up 6 microphones stands.

Not sure if this is part of ongoing sound data collection for RSTL...

Part of the harassment grant is that SpaceX is required to undertake certain monitoring actions during launch campaigns (this  is in addition to mitigation various efforts).  The grant lays out all the stuff they have to do.
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

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