Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 : Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (June 25, 2017) : Discussion  (Read 92445 times)

Offline gongora

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DISCUSSION THREAD for Flight 2 of the Iridium NEXT missions.

Flight 2: Successful launch June 25 at 13:25:14 PDT (20:25:14 UTC) on Falcon 9 from SLC-4E at Vandenberg.  Landing of first stage (new booster 1036) on ASDS Just Read the Instructions successful.

   Flight 2 launched 10 satellites into Iridium plane 3.  Five of those satellites will then be drifted to planes 2 and 4.

   NSF Threads for Iridium NEXT Flight 2: Discussion / Updates / L2 Coverage May-June
   NSF Articles for Iridium NEXT Flight 2:  SpaceX testing Vandy Falcon 9 amid schedule realignment
      SpaceX Doubleheader Part 2 – Falcon 9 set for Iridium NEXT-2 launch
      SpaceX returns two boosters, fires up a third for Static Fire test

Flight 1 was a successful launch and first stage offshore landing, January 14, 2017 (9:54 PST/17:54 UTC) on Falcon 9 from SLC-4E at Vandenberg.  See the Flight 1 Discussion Thread for more information and links to other Flight 1 threads and articles.

General information for Iridium flights 1-7
   Payload Mass: 8600kg for 10 satellites + 1000kg for dispenser = 9600kg
   Launch orbit: 625km, 86.66 degrees
   Operational orbit: 778km, 86.4 degrees

81 Satellites will be built for Iridium NEXT, with 66 being needed for a fully operational constellation.  All of the satellites will carry ADS-B aviation tracking hosted payloads for Aireon, and 60 of the satellites will carry AIS maritime tracking hosted payloads for exactEarth.



Other SpaceX resources on NASASpaceflight:
   SpaceX News Articles (Recent)  /   SpaceX News Articles from 2006 (Including numerous exclusive Elon interviews)
   SpaceX Dragon Articles  /  SpaceX Missions Section (with Launch Manifest and info on past and future missions)
   L2 SpaceX Section
« Last Edit: 06/30/2017 02:01 AM by gongora »

Offline gongora

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Question tweeted to Matt Desch: @IridiumBoss when the next 10 satellites will be shipped to vandenberg??
Answer from Matt Desch: @kbehera350 Starting later in February for an April launch.

Offline gongora

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https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/827479074021003264
Quote
pbdes: @Thales_Alenia_S(3): 2d batch of IRDM Next sats planned for April on @SpaceX. Koreasat 5A geo sat may launch July on @SpaceX, then 3d IRDM.

also

Tweet from Peter B. de Selding
Quote
@Thales_Alenia_S (2): We've 22 @IridiumComm Next sats ready for @SpaceX launch & 10 finishing integration. Orbit test of 1st 10 going well.

Online SmallKing

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Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  10 min
 Iridium says the launch of its next ten satellites will slip to mid-June because of a backlog in SpaceX’s manifest: http://bit.ly/2kpGL5S
Some are bound for happiness, some are bound to glory, some are bound to live with less, who can tell your story?

Offline mn

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Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  10 min
 Iridium says the launch of its next ten satellites will slip to mid-June because of a backlog in SpaceX’s manifest: http://bit.ly/2kpGL5S

Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?

Offline stcks

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Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?

Why does it matter which pad is involved? A manifest backlog is still a backlog. There are only so many F9 being made and at least 6 (??) manifested missions ahead of them. Other customers are taking priority at the moment.

Offline hkultala

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Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?

Why does it matter which pad is involved? A manifest backlog is still a backlog. There are only so many F9 being made and at least 6 (??) manifested missions ahead of them. Other customers are taking priority at the moment.

Manufacturing cores is not a bottleneck currently, they had plenty of time to manufactore lots of F9 cores when they were not launching any when the last RUD investigation was going on.

Also they have multiple used F9 cores waiting to be reused.


But one explanation:

They might not have the launch site crews for mutiple simultaneous launches, some people may move between the launch sites.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2017 03:48 PM by hkultala »

Offline gongora

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Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?

Why does it matter which pad is involved? A manifest backlog is still a backlog. There are only so many F9 being made and at least 6 (??) manifested missions ahead of them. Other customers are taking priority at the moment.

Manufacturing cores is not a bottleneck currently, they had plenty of time to manufactore lots of F9 cores when they were not launching any when the last RUD investigation was going on.

Also they have multiple used F9 cores waiting to be reused.

Do you have any information to back up those statements, or are they just assumptions?

Offline meberbs

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Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  10 min
 Iridium says the launch of its next ten satellites will slip to mid-June because of a backlog in SpaceX’s manifest: http://bit.ly/2kpGL5S

Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?
Flight priorities, limited rockets, and delays between rockets required regardless of coast for data review and overlapping mission control personnel.

And if you think the rockets aren't limited, we'll see how long that lasts at 2 flights per month. They have some backlog of cores right now, but we generally don't know the status of second stages, fairings etc. and they had to be careful with production until the investigation was complete in case the findings required changes (which they definitely did for S2, not sure the extent to which S1 was affected.)

Offline tleski

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And the fact that they have a stockpile of used stages is not a guarantee of oversupply. There is only one flight planned so far (not counting the FH side boosters) and we will not know how well it works until after that launch. So, for now, most of the SpaceX customers are booking brand new (and flight untested) first stages as far as we know.

Offline mn

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Not sure who to quote with all the responses.

The most plausible explanation I think is a shortage of cores (reusable cores don't count unless the customer wants to launch on a reused core, we only know of one such customer at this time).

(I don't know about crew limits or data review and such stuff, I have a hard time buying that as the cause.)

But that begs the question: Why is the a shortage? what were they doing all that time? Perhaps the explanation is that at the end of the investigation they need to rework already built stages for a required change. (or they held back on building to avoid that situation).

And my main question is: what changed now? which part of core shortage (or whatever is the issue) didn't they know about a month ago?

Offline cscott

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I'd guess we're not getting quite the whole story.  We're missing some bits of info, since as @mn notes, what we're hearing doesn't quite add up.

Pure speculation: there's some not-crucial-but-nice-to-have fix identified on the iridium side, coupled with "it's taking longer than expected to commission LC-39A and there are some additional things we'll need some downtime for in the next few months" on the SpaceX side, resulting in a mutual decision on both sides to slip the launch.  Since iridium is publicly traded (and SpaceX is not) it's safer not to mention the iridium issue in the announcement.

Again, as a pure guess, I'd say SpaceX said something like "your launch might be a month late" and iridium countered with "well, if we make it two we can open up our satellites and fix XYZ". Handshakes all around.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2017 05:01 PM by cscott »

Offline stcks

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Its a nice story but honestly SpaceX was never going to be able to make an April flight after the 39A delays. With no delays it would still have been a long shot. The best case overly-optimistic scenario of being able to launch every 2 weeks barely gets them a launch in May. Lets see how these upcoming flights go and then we can make some predictions on whether the June date will hold as well.

Offline mn

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Another thought: Perhaps they knew about the core shortage all along, there was lots of jockeying for position as to who goes first, as recently Feb 3rd iridium thought they get a core in April and just now a decision was made that they have to wait a bit longer.

Certainly plausible and does not require any conspiracy theories.

(and if this were the case this would also mean if there are additional pad delays on the east coast, that could possibly put April back in play for iridium)

Offline mn

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Its a nice story but honestly SpaceX was never going to be able to make an April flight after the 39A delays. With no delays it would still have been a long shot. The best case overly-optimistic scenario of being able to launch every 2 weeks barely gets them a launch in May. Lets see how these upcoming flights go and then we can make some predictions on whether the June date will hold as well.

Sorry but this theory I have the hardest time understanding. If anything, delays at 39A should make it easier to launch iridium on time.

Offline stcks

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Its a nice story but honestly SpaceX was never going to be able to make an April flight after the 39A delays. With no delays it would still have been a long shot. The best case overly-optimistic scenario of being able to launch every 2 weeks barely gets them a launch in May. Lets see how these upcoming flights go and then we can make some predictions on whether the June date will hold as well.

Sorry but this theory I have the hardest time understanding. If anything, delays at 39A should make it easier to launch iridium on time.

Just my 2 cents again, but heres how I read it: If the delays were going to be many more months, then Iridium at VAFB would be taking priority. But since they are now L-2 on 39A those east coast customers who are chomping at the bit to get into orbit are taking priority.

Offline mn

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Its a nice story but honestly SpaceX was never going to be able to make an April flight after the 39A delays. With no delays it would still have been a long shot. The best case overly-optimistic scenario of being able to launch every 2 weeks barely gets them a launch in May. Lets see how these upcoming flights go and then we can make some predictions on whether the June date will hold as well.

Sorry but this theory I have the hardest time understanding. If anything, delays at 39A should make it easier to launch iridium on time.

Just my 2 cents again, but here's how I read it: If the delays were going to be many more months, then Iridium at VAFB would be taking priority. But since they are now L-2 on 39A those east coast customers who are chomping at the bit to get into orbit are taking priority.

So if I got you correctly, when CRS-10 was on for Feb 14 Iridium was officially on for April, but when CRS-10 got pushed to the 18th suddenly Iridium got pushed back to June?


Offline stcks

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So if I got you correctly, when CRS-10 was on for Feb 14 Iridium was officially on for April, but when CRS-10 got pushed to the 18th suddenly Iridium got pushed back to June?

No, thats not what I'm saying. I'm saying that having an active east coast pad means earmarking cores for those east coast customers who have been waiting.

Offline bstrong

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I would imagine core allocation comes down to a financial calculation. As I understand it, launch contracts usually include a penalty for the provider for missing the contractual launch date. So, SpaceX likely allocates cores and other constrained resources to whichever site will minimize the total penalties accrued.

The penalty minimizing allocation will change as you slip further behind on one pad vs. another and will favor sending cores to a site that is further behind and/or has a larger backlog.

Offline yokem55

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I would imagine core allocation comes down to a financial calculation. As I understand it, launch contracts usually include a penalty for the provider for missing the contractual launch date. So, SpaceX likely allocates cores and other constrained resources to whichever site will minimize the total penalties accrued.

The penalty minimizing allocation will change as you slip further behind on one pad vs. another and will favor sending cores to a site that is further behind and/or has a larger backlog.
I imagine if SES-10 is successful with a reused booster, there will be some arm twisting with some customers to get them to jump queue on a 'flight proven' booster and free up new boosters for others. Ie, wait six months for a new booster at x penalty, or launch in a month with x discount on a flight proven one. That approach could help the manifest for everyone.

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