Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 : Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (June 25, 2017 @ 2024 UTC) : Discussion  (Read 44086 times)

Offline gongora

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DISCUSSION THREAD for Flight 2 of the Iridium NEXT missions.

Flight 2: June 25 at 13:24:59 PDT (20:24:59 UTC) on Falcon 9 from SLC-4E at Vandenberg.  Landing of first stage (1036) on ASDS is expected.

   Flight 2 will launch 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

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: 06/20/2017 06:28 PM by gongora »

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #1 on: 01/23/2017 05:48 PM »
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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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #2 on: 02/03/2017 07:02 PM »
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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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #3 on: 02/15/2017 12:33 PM »
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
Launch Land Relaunch

Offline mn

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #4 on: 02/16/2017 03:39 PM »
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?

Online stcks

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #5 on: 02/16/2017 03:43 PM »
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.

Online hkultala

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #6 on: 02/16/2017 03:47 PM »
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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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #7 on: 02/16/2017 03:49 PM »
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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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #8 on: 02/16/2017 03:55 PM »
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.)

Online 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 »

Online 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.

Online 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?


Online 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.

Offline IanThePineapple

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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.

I'm sure one of the last Iridium missions will be reused, possibly the rideshares.
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Online wardy89

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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.

I'm sure one of the last Iridium missions will be reused, possibly the rideshares.

I am not so sure about that the Iridium CEO has said on numerous occasions that all of there launches will be on NEW booster.

Offline Comga

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I'm sure one of the last Iridium missions will be reused, possibly the rideshares.

I am not so sure about that the Iridium CEO has said on numerous occasions that all of there launches will be on NEW booster.

Reread Ian's post  wargy89
He said the boosters for the Iridium launches will get reused, not that Iridium will be the launches on the reused ("flight proven") first stages.
"Reused" vs "reuse"

Edit: or maybe not. Ian?
« Last Edit: 02/16/2017 11:39 PM by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online wardy89

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I'm sure one of the last Iridium missions will be reused, possibly the rideshares.

I am not so sure about that the Iridium CEO has said on numerous occasions that all of there launches will be on NEW booster.

Reread Ian's post  wargy89
He said the boosters for the Iridium launches will get reused, not that Iridium will be the launches on the reused ("flight proven") first stages.
"Reused" vs "reuse"

Edit: or maybe not. Ian?

Look at the context he is taking about the later missions and specifically mentions the ride share mission. I think he is suggesting that the a later mission or ride shame mission would fly on a reused booster. Why would they wait for one of the later mission boosters to re fly first as they already have one recovered iridium booster and we assume they will try and land all of them.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2017 12:02 AM by wardy89 »

Offline IanThePineapple

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I said the Iridium missions might [Edit: forgot to add "might " to the original message] use flight-proven boosters, as once the first few reused missions fly they may notice the good reliability and choose to modify the launch contract.
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Offline Sam Ho

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I said the Iridium missions might [Edit: forgot to add "might " to the original message] use flight-proven boosters, as once the first few reused missions fly they may notice the good reliability and choose to modify the launch contract.
Your original statement not only left out "might," but said "I'm sure."  It made the statement much more authoritative than the new version.  For some of our posters, an authoritative statement is truly authoritative, because they work in the industry, and are very careful to only say things they know are both true and allowed to talk about.  It would help reduce confusion if you phrase your statements with the appropriate degree of certainty.

In any case, Matt Desch has been quite clear that they are planning on new boosters and they currently see no schedule benefit from launching with used.
Quote from: Matt Desch
No, but a reused booster isn't available before our new one in June anyway.

Being assured we'll be launching every 8 weeks or so starting later this year with new, so not much to jump.
https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/832571794238427136

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Quote
IRDM CEO: SpaceX says rocket-build rhythm improves after June & we shld get quicker rate for our 65 to-be-launched sats on 7 Falcon 9s.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/834759735668772864

Offline mn

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Quote
IRDM CEO: SpaceX says rocket-build rhythm improves after June & we shld get quicker rate for our 65 to-be-launched sats on 7 Falcon 9s.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/834759735668772864

a: This at least confirms that the delay was due to a shortage of rockets.

b: That still leaves me wondering what changed in middle of Feb?

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b: That still leaves me wondering what changed in middle of Feb?

The messaging  ;)

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Is this new, I don't recall seeing it before:

Quote
Iridium Corporate‏ Verified account @IridiumComm 4m4 minutes ago

#DYK that there is a 4-leaf clover on each #IridiumNEXT launch patch? #SATSuperstition #StPatricksDay

https://twitter.com/IridiumComm/status/842729747402645504

Online vanoord

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#DYK that there is a 4-leaf clover on each #IridiumNEXT launch patch? #SATSuperstition #StPatricksDay

Is that not usually used on most / all patches where an ASDS recovery is attempted? The Iridium 1 patch had a different clover leaf one it (below for illustration).

There's a clover leaf painted on one of the blast walls on OCISLY, but don't recall if JRTI has one as well?

Offline cscott

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It's on every SpaceX patch since the first successful Falcon 1 launch IIRC after a string of early failures seemed to suggest some extra luck might be useful.  It appeared on the ASDS as well following one of the crash landings which did damage to the barge.

Offline virnin

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It's on every SpaceX patch since the first successful Falcon 1 launch IIRC after a string of early failures seemed to suggest some extra luck might be useful.  It appeared on the ASDS as well following one of the crash landings which did damage to the barge.

One of the SpaceX employees seen in the Echostar 23 launch video was wearing a black t-shirt with a large green four-leaf clover with a SpaceX logo in the middle.  Seems to be a Corporate Standard.

Offline whitelancer64

It's on every SpaceX patch since the first successful Falcon 1 launch IIRC after a string of early failures seemed to suggest some extra luck might be useful.  It appeared on the ASDS as well following one of the crash landings which did damage to the barge.

One of the SpaceX employees seen in the Echostar 23 launch video was wearing a black t-shirt with a large green four-leaf clover with a SpaceX logo in the middle.  Seems to be a Corporate Standard.

You can buy that shirt from their online store.

https://shop.spacex.com/mens/men-s-lucky-launch-t-shirt.html
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Offline DaveJes1979

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Any word on if this will be the first attempt to land the first stage at Vandenberg?  I'd make the drive out to see that.

Online KaiFarrimond

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Any word on if this will be the first attempt to land the first stage at Vandenberg?  I'd make the drive out to see that.
I don't think Iridium could make it back to land. Too heavy.
Of Course I Still Love You; We Have A Falcon 9 Onboard!

Online e of pi

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I don't think Iridium could make it back to land. Too heavy.
Iridiuam NEXT satellites are about 450 kg each, IIRC. Ten would be about 4.5 tons. Even adding the deployment system, I'd wager that's less than an ISS-bound Dragon, and they did RTLS on CRS-9 and CRS-10.

Online KaiFarrimond

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I don't think Iridium could make it back to land. Too heavy.
Iridiuam NEXT satellites are about 450 kg each, IIRC. Ten would be about 4.5 tons. Even adding the deployment system, I'd wager that's less than an ISS-bound Dragon, and they did RTLS on CRS-9 and CRS-10.

It's alot more than that. Around 9.6 Tonnes. Each sat weighs around 860kg and the dispenser is 1,000kg
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Offline macpacheco

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I don't think Iridium could make it back to land. Too heavy.
Iridiuam NEXT satellites are about 450 kg each, IIRC. Ten would be about 4.5 tons. Even adding the deployment system, I'd wager that's less than an ISS-bound Dragon, and they did RTLS on CRS-9 and CRS-10.
Not only the mass is twice as much, but also the target orbit requires even more energy for other reasons. The southerly launch heading and further from the equator, higher target orbit altitude and the job of circularizing is up to F9 2nd stage, each of those items increase effort to the Falcon launch system, but even then, I wouldn't be surprised if a Block V can RTLS, but a Block III might not.
In a ISS launch, Falcon leaves Dragon in a 200Kmx360Km orbit (Dragon raises the perigee). A Iridium launch targets a 625Kmx625Km orbit, all done by the Falcon 9.
I'm not entirely certain an RTLS is out of the question though.
« Last Edit: 04/03/2017 06:45 AM by macpacheco »
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Online envy887

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Any expectation that the NROL-76 delay will trickle down to VAFB launches? As I understand the current holdup is LV availability which should be tracking through the same even if payloads are held up on the Eastern Range.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 04:52 PM by envy887 »

Offline gongora

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Space Intel Report: Maritime tracker exactEarth cuts costs, awaits Iridium fleet deployment [Apr. 11, 2017]
Quote
The company has two more payloads on larger satellites on the way...The eV-8 AIS payload is hosted aboard the Spanish government’s Paz radar Earth observation satellite...Spanish authorities recently announced that they had switched to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and secured a late-2017 launch slot.

The major event for exactEarth, however, is its partnership with Harris Corp. of the United States, under which 60 AIS payloads will be launched aboard Iridium Communications’ Iridium Next second-generation constellation.

Four of the 10 first Iridium Next satellites launched in January by SpaceX carry AIS payloads for exactEarth. The company said April 6 that it expected them to enter service by the end of May.

A second Iridium 10-satellite launch by SpaceX is scheduled for June. Nine of these satellites carry AIS gear.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Quote
Christian Daniels‏ @CJDaniels77

@IridiumBoss Are you still on course for the Iridium- 2 flight?
https://twitter.com/CJDaniels77/status/857220605405528065

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Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss 9m9 minutes ago
Replying to @CJDaniels77

Yes, still on for June.
https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/857224072702427136

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Peter B. de Selding‏ @pbdes 5m5 minutes ago

@IridiumComm: Our 2d group of 10 2d-gen sats to launch June 29 w/ @SpaceX. @Intelsat: We expect late-June launch of IS-35e w/ @SpaceX.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/857564394749919237

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Here's the launch time:

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Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss 1m1 minute ago

Announced Iridium NEXT launch #2 date this morning: Thurs, June 29, 1:04pm pdt. Will start sending sats to VAFB soon. T minus 9 weeks!

https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/857570216687128576

Offline deruch

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Quote
Peter B. de Selding‏ @pbdes 5m5 minutes ago

@IridiumComm: Our 2d group of 10 2d-gen sats to launch June 29 w/ @SpaceX. @Intelsat: We expect late-June launch of IS-35e w/ @SpaceX.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/857564394749919237
For those who will inevitably end up scratching their head trying to figure out how both Iridium-#2 and Intelsat-35e are going to be launching in "late-June", remember that Iridium is launching from Vandenberg AFB (in California) and Intelsat-35e from KSC (in Florida).  So, even if both launches are scheduled very close to each other, pad-turnaround won't be an issue.
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  But, in practice, there is.  --Jan van de Snepscheut

Online Chris Bergin

For Immediate Release
Contact Information Below

 

Iridium Announces Successful Completion of First-Launch Iridium NEXT Satellites Activities and Second Launch Date

Next-Generation Satellites are Actively Serving Iridium® Network Customers, While the Company Prepares for the Second Launch

MCLEAN, Va. – May 2, 2017 – Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM), the only communications company with 100 percent global coverage, has announced that the first set of Iridium NEXT satellites have been integrated into the operational constellation and are providing excellent service to Iridium customers. Prior to achieving this major program milestone, the new satellites went through a rigorous testing and validation process that demonstrated that they met all performance requirements and even exceeded many. The Iridium NEXT satellites are already providing superior call quality and faster data speeds with increased capacity to Iridium customers. In addition, the Company has announced the targeted launch date for the second payload of ten Iridium NEXT satellites as June 29, 2017, at 1:02pm PDT, with an instantaneous launch window. All planned Iridium NEXT launches will take place from SpaceX’s west coast launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California, on Falcon 9 rockets.

The testing and validation process for the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation involved a thorough test of each of Iridium’s services, an assessment of each satellite’s performance against established metrics, and a formal acceptance process between Iridium and Thales, thus ensuring a smooth integration into Iridium’s existing network architecture.  Once completed for each new satellite, a precisely orchestrated process of replacing the original Iridium® satellite with a new Iridium NEXT satellite, known as a ‘slot swap’ is completed.  To date, the team at Iridium’s Satellite Network Operations Center (SNOC) has successfully completed three individual slot swaps, and two dual slot swaps.   Two of the new satellites are currently drifting to their assigned orbital plane.

“To say that I am proud of the Iridium satellite network operations team is an understatement,” said Scott Smith, chief operating officer at Iridium. “Conducting multiple slot swaps to replace a network of this magnitude is an incredible task, and only Iridium has the team and technical capacity to manage this project. We have been preparing for this process for years, and since first launch the team has worked non-stop to manage each maneuver to successfully integrate the new satellites into the active network. We are thrilled to say that these new satellites are exceeding expectations and are already delivering faster speeds to our customers.”

The Iridium NEXT satellites are manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, the prime contractor, and assembled at Orbital ATK’s facility in Gilbert, Arizona. Thales Alenia Space has been tasked with certifying these next-generation satellite vehicles, all while maintaining a demanding manufacturing timetable to meet Iridium’s launch schedule.

“We are deploying the largest satellite constellation in the world, and it works! We met challenges that were unprecedented in the space sector, in terms of end-to-end system performance and production rate,” said Bertrand Maureau, executive vice president, telecommunication at Thales Alenia Space. “Seeing the satellites exceed our expectations and be smoothly integrated into the existing network was one of the top highlights in our company’s history. Iridium NEXT is an extraordinary story, and we are both proud and greatly moved to have successfully passed this major milestone. In our industry, when things go as planned and even exceed expectations, it’s an impressive achievement, and we are very excited to be looking forward to the second launch.”

The late-June launch will deliver the second set of ten Iridium NEXT satellites into low-earth orbit, bringing the total count to 20 Iridium NEXT satellites in space.  A total of 75 satellites will be launched over eight launches, and are expected to be completed by mid-2018.  A network replacement of this size and scale has never been achieved before, and Iridium NEXT has been coined one of the largest “tech refreshes” in history. The new constellation is the first step in delivering Iridium’s next-generation portfolio of communications services, called Iridium CertusSM, and will also introduce new revolutionary technologies and services like the AireonSM space-based ADS-B aircraft surveillance and flight tracking network.

To learn more about the process of a satellite “slot swap,” visit: .  For real-time updates about the Iridium NEXT program, please go to www.IridiumNext.com and follow Iridium on Facebook (Iridium Communications), Twitter (@IridiumComm) and LinkedIn (Iridium).

 

About Iridium Communications Inc.

Iridium is the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. Iridium enables connections between people, organizations and assets to and from anywhere, in real time. Together with its ecosystem of partner companies, Iridium delivers an innovative and rich portfolio of reliable solutions for markets that require truly global communications. The company has a major development program underway for its next-generation network — Iridium NEXT. Iridium Communications Inc. is headquartered in McLean, Va., U.S.A., and its common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol IRDM. For more information about Iridium products, services and partner solutions, visit www.iridium.com.

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Clarification of status of first 10 Iridium NEXT sats:

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Iridium Corporate‏Verified account @IridiumComm 22m22 minutes ago

Thrilled to share successful integration of 1st 8 #IridiumNEXT SV's (2 drifting) & 2nd @SpaceX launch date for 6/29! http://bit.ly/2oTI9QM
https://twitter.com/IridiumComm/status/859410428698525696

Quote
Peter B. de Selding‏ @pbdes 5m5 minutes ago

Clarification on @IridiumComm: 8 of 10 2d-gen sats are in operation; 2 others have been tested & are drifting to final orbits as planned.
https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/859414973180776450

Offline gongora

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Iridium's 2017-04-27 Earnings Call Transcript:
Quote
First off, I'm happy to report that our initial batch of Iridium NEXT satellites are now fully operational and working very well. We went through an extensive checkout process before putting these into the constellation. Each satellite was tested thoroughly, both individually and in conjunction with all our other satellites. Primary and hosted payload functions have also been tested extensively to ensure these and future satellites will work as designed once launched.

We completed the commissioning of these Iridium NEXT satellites about a week ahead of schedule, which is a real testament to the planning and preparation of our satellite operations team. What's important is that our experience with in-orbit testing, slot swaps and the new satellite performance gives us confidence that we'll be able to manage the roughly 60-day launch cycle that SpaceX is targeting following the second launch. In all, I am very pleased with the execution of Thales Alenia and our operations team, and I congratulate them both on all the good progress so far.

Of the 10 satellites we launched in January, 8 were placed into service in plane 6, while 2 satellites have begun a 10-month journey to an adjacent plane as part of a highly choreographed process that will eventually get all the satellites into their proper positions at the earliest possible time. We continue to expect that the Iridium NEXT constellation will be fully operational in mid-2018. This outlook is predicated upon our second launch in June, and SpaceX's execution of Iridium NEXT launches about every 60 days thereafter. Based upon the launch success and turnaround SpaceX has demonstrated this year, they should be able to keep to this cadence.

Each of the 8 Iridium NEXT satellites we put in service so far are not just working well, they're providing our customers better service. The satellites' faster processors, larger memory and modern engineering design are delivering better voice quality as well as faster data throughput for our maritime, aviation and IoT customers.

While our current network is performing amazingly well for its age, the statistics for our newest satellites are even better. I can't wait for the coming launches and the impact that additional NEXT satellites will have on the overall work performance, and that's even before we introduce new services.

The offshoot of our successful launch campaign is that we must also plan for and execute the deorbit of legacy satellites being removed from the constellation. I thought you might find it interesting the methodology we're taking for decommissioning our Block I satellites, now that we've started that process to give you insight into the effort and care we're taking to execute on this part of the mission.

As I've described before, the process of replacing a legacy satellite with an Iridium NEXT satellite is called a slot swap, and it follows a precise sequence of steps to ensure service continuity. As a new Iridium NEXT is cross-linked into the constellation and L-band services are engaged, the new and the old satellites remain co-located for a short period. Based on the health and operational capabilities of the legacy satellite, we'll either start an immediate deorbit or move it into a temporary storage orbit, approximately 20 kilometers below the operational constellation. Those legacy satellites lowered to the storage orbit will be maintained as a contingency measure until all 75 Iridium NEXT satellites are placed into service. As a practice, we're keeping the best of the legacy satellites in orbit as either operational satellites or as temporary spares, and then we'll deorbit the rest pretty quickly.

For example, of the 11 satellites in plane 6, 8 are the new Iridium NEXT satellites from the first launch, and 3 satellites are the  best-performing legacy satellites that were operating in this plane. Of the 7 remaining legacy satellites we remove from service, we plan to put the 2 best in the temporary storage orbit as backups
. For the rest of the old satellites, our operation team follows a methodical decommissioning process to deorbit and safely retire them from lower orbit. Each of the satellites we deorbit will follow NASA recommendations with a scripted series of thruster burns to utilize all their fuel to put them in the lowest orbit possible, where they will then automatically deplete or passivate their batteries, open their electrical relays and propellant lines and position their solar arrays for maximum drag, so that the satellites will burn up in the atmosphere. We're expecting most satellites will burn up within a year or less after completing this process.

A few weeks ago, the first of our Block I satellites, SV40, was decommissioned this way, and we are planning for the second and third to occur in the next few weeks. We will continue this process for all legacy satellites that we aren't using as temporary spares, and we'll eventually deorbit all the Block I spares after Iridium NEXT is completed next year.

So moving back to building and launching the new satellites. To date, Thales Alenia has manufactured over 40 Iridium NEXT satellites, and production continues on track to complete all satellites around year end. Thales and their partner, Orbital ATK, are doing a good job on production, and we should have plenty of satellites ready for each launch. As far as the second launch goes, SpaceX has informed us that they have scheduled our launch for Thursday, June 29, just a few minutes after 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. That launch will be into plane 3. Vandenberg has also confirmed the 29th, so satellites will start shipping to the base in about 2 to 3 weeks to begin processing as the dispenser and the payload adapters are ready and on-site.

With SpaceX's increasing cadence on production and launch, they've also provided us launch dates for 3 more launches in 2017, in August, October and December. So we're hoping they stay on track as we're ready to deploy satellites as soon as they can launch them.
...

Offline gongora

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FCC permits are up for this one, mission 1338. ASDS landing.
Landing STA

Offline ryanpritchard01

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Will we ever see a east cost land landing :(

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We already have.

Will we ever see a east cost land landing :(

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We already have.

Will we ever see a east cost land landing :(

[citation needed]
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Offline Lars-J

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We already have.

Will we ever see a east cost land landing :(

[citation needed]

I think the confusion is east/west. Presumably the question was meant for WEST coast. (we have seen 4 land landings on the east coast) ;)

And yes, they eventually we will see a land landing at Vandenberg, they are in the process of completing a landing pad. If you look at the latest Google Maps satellite images here, you can see it in progress.
« Last Edit: 05/08/2017 10:56 PM by Lars-J »

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I think the confusion is east/west. Presumably the question was meant for WEST coast. (we have seen 4 land landings on the east coast) ;)

And yes, they eventually we will see a land landing at Vandenberg, they are in the process of completing a landing pad. If you look at the latest Google Maps satellite images here, you can see it in progress.

The landing pad looks to essentially be complete, according to the Iridium-1 launch photos.

Offline IanThePineapple

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I think Formosat will be the first land landing at Vandy.

Perhaps some of the later Iridium missions that fly on Block 5 will be able to RTLS...?
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Apparently the issues with ASDS @ VAFB are:
Potentially becomes a bottleneck - VAFB launches are rare
Delay to get the stage back from a ballistic trajectory far from coast - VAFB launches are mostly south heading, which allows ASDS to be positioned fairly close to the port closest to Hawthorne (to my knowledge, refurb for VAFB launches are done at SpaceX main factory)
If 100% of VAFB launches no longer need ASDS, it perhaps can be permanently allocated to the East Coast, which creates the incentive of building a 3rd ASDS and being able to recover all 3 FH boosters on a ballistic arc, resulting in the best possible FH performance expending just the upper stage.

When we add all items up, it seems VAFB land landings really only become important IF ASDS can be permanently freed to stay in FL, either for higher cadence of ASDS F9 recoveries or with a trio to permit max performance FH launches without expending the center booster.

There is zero evidence that ASDS landings lead to higher refurb costs or reduces chances of recovery (yet).
But I think its likely moving forward the scenario that with a west coast LZ, ASDS is not needed anymore and can be moved to the cape (permanent or at least semi permanently) is intriguing to say the least.
« Last Edit: 05/09/2017 08:34 AM by macpacheco »
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Offline yokem55

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Apparently the issues with ASDS @ VAFB are:
Potentially becomes a bottleneck - VAFB launches are rare
Delay to get the stage back from a ballistic trajectory far from coast - VAFB launches are mostly south heading, which allows ASDS to be positioned fairly close to the port closest to Hawthorne (to my knowledge, refurb for VAFB launches are done at SpaceX main factory)
If 100% of VAFB launches no longer need ASDS, it perhaps can be permanently allocated to the East Coast, which creates the incentive of building a 3rd ASDS and being able to recover all 3 FH boosters on a ballistic arc, resulting in the best possible FH performance expending just the upper stage.

When we add all items up, it seems VAFB land landings really only become important IF ASDS can be permanently freed to stay in FL, either for higher cadence of ASDS F9 recoveries or with a trio to permit max performance FH launches without expending the center booster.

There is zero evidence that ASDS landings lead to higher refurb costs or reduces chances of recovery (yet).
But I think its likely moving forward the scenario that with a west coast LZ, ASDS is not needed anymore and can be moved to the cape (permanent or at least semi permanently) is intriguing to say the least.
Unless Block 5 changes things, the Iridium launches still require the ASDS. 10 mt to 800 km to a near polar inclination means they need the ASDS. That said, they want to use the ASDS less, not more. The biggest reason being the added time required for recovery not to mention the downrange weather risks. It will be interesting to see the trades between launching a 3-core RTLS FH and a downrange recovered ASDS F9.

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ASDS Landing confirmed.

Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss
Replying to @stratohornet
We're a very heavy payload, even for LEO, so they are planning another barge landing.

Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss
Replying to @SpaceY_UK @stratohornet @elonmusk
And, while it may officially be an ASDS, I was referring to alternate name: Big-Ass Remote Grin Enhancer (BARGE)...
8)
« Last Edit: 05/17/2017 02:29 PM by Arb »

Offline gospacex

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But I think its likely moving forward the scenario that with a west coast LZ, ASDS is not needed anymore

Sounds unlikely. There bound to be payloads which can't RTLS, but can ASDS. Just one lost stage represents loss of revenue of some ~$10m.

Quote
and can be moved to the cape (permanent or at least semi permanently) is intriguing to say the least.

Or build / buy another barge for ~$10m? Not a rocket science.

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Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss  25m25 minutes ago
Replying to @CJDaniels77
Start shipping satellites this weekend; rocket stages show up next week...

link to tweet
« Last Edit: 05/17/2017 02:51 PM by Jakusb »

Offline macpacheco

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Unless Block 5 changes things, the Iridium launches still require the ASDS. 10 mt to 800 km to a near polar inclination means they need the ASDS. That said, they want to use the ASDS less, not more. The biggest reason being the added time required for recovery not to mention the downrange weather risks. It will be interesting to see the trades between launching a 3-core RTLS FH and a downrange recovered ASDS F9.
Please take a look at this:
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/726560848177561600?lang=en

M1D just have even more thrust available that is still being unused. Block IV/V are just two intermediate steps towards what SpaceX considers safe/reliable and just as importantly margins that don't wear the M1D such that they can still be reflown ~10 times between major refurbs and perhaps reusable 100x total.

The private reports that the last 2 launches were mixed Block III/IV rockets, the information as Block IV upper stage/Block III booster, but that doesn't quite match the observation, of a shorter booster flight time, which suggests the extra thrust is actually on the booster (higher thrust = higher fuel flow = shorter total burn time). Either way a fully Block IV rocket will get a little more payload to the same orbit.
And Block V is still another step forwards.

SpaceX states F9 ultimately can put 8.3 tons to GTO-1800 m/s. Worst case that's with zero margins, but they state it can be done.
Why think that's bogus or whatever ?
Can we please stop with this I'll believe when I see it behavior. M1D have been tested to higher thrust. At the same time, its a good idea to slowly open up the thrust levels so that no surprises are seen in flight, with the Block IV/V just arbitrary throttle limits set as intermediate goals.
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Offline gongora

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Unless Block 5 changes things, the Iridium launches still require the ASDS. 10 mt to 800 km to a near polar inclination means they need the ASDS. That said, they want to use the ASDS less, not more. The biggest reason being the added time required for recovery not to mention the downrange weather risks. It will be interesting to see the trades between launching a 3-core RTLS FH and a downrange recovered ASDS F9.
Please take a look at this:
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/726560848177561600?lang=en

M1D just have even more thrust available that is still being unused. Block IV/V are just two intermediate steps towards what SpaceX considers safe/reliable and just as importantly margins that don't wear the M1D such that they can still be reflown ~10 times between major refurbs and perhaps reusable 100x total.

The private reports that the last 2 launches were mixed Block III/IV rockets, the information as Block IV upper stage/Block III booster, but that doesn't quite match the observation, of a shorter booster flight time, which suggests the extra thrust is actually on the booster (higher thrust = higher fuel flow = shorter total burn time). Either way a fully Block IV rocket will get a little more payload to the same orbit.
And Block V is still another step forwards.

SpaceX states F9 ultimately can put 8.3 tons to GTO-1800 m/s. Worst case that's with zero margins, but they state it can be done.
Why think that's bogus or whatever ?
Can we please stop with this I'll believe when I see it behavior. M1D have been tested to higher thrust. At the same time, its a good idea to slowly open up the thrust levels so that no surprises are seen in flight, with the Block IV/V just arbitrary throttle limits set as intermediate goals.

You linked a tweet that says the M1D thrust will be upgraded.  We all know that already.  What is the point?  The person you were responding too was wondering if the Block 5 upgrades will allow RTLS of the Iridium flights.  That is a perfectly reasonable thing to wonder.  Have you done any analysis to see if that is possible?  (It's probably possible, but not by any huge margin.  The NASA launch performance calculator shows it needing about 15% more performance than F9 FT.)  Just waving your hands and throwing out GTO numbers is not a convincing argument that specific payloads to specific orbits from Vandenberg won't need ASDS landings anymore.

Offline mn

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... (higher thrust = higher fuel flow = shorter total burn time) ...

Does it have to be that way? isn't it possible to get higher thrust by improving isp, so you can get more thrust out of the same fuel flow?

I understand that we may already know what SpaceX is doing with regards to the M1D and we may already know they are increasing fuel flow, just wondering if that is always the case?

Edit: correct quote.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2017 05:39 PM by mn »

Online envy887

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...
The private reports that the last 2 launches were mixed Block III/IV rockets, the information as Block IV upper stage/Block III booster, but that doesn't quite match the observation, of a shorter booster flight time, which suggests the extra thrust is actually on the booster (higher thrust = higher fuel flow = shorter total burn time). Either way a fully Block IV rocket will get a little more payload to the same orbit.
And Block V is still another step forwards.
...

The Inmarsat booster actually had a longer burn time at lower acceleration than Echostar-23. Combined with the heavier payload to higher orbit, and the late LOX load, this indicates more fuel mass onboard but a similar thrust level. However, both are likely Block 3 boosters (as was the Iridium-1 booster). Inmarsat was definitely run at a higher thrust level than SES-10, which is a Block 1 booster.

The NASA LSP information is likely for Block 1, since it was last updated around when CRS-8 flew. I think it's likely that a Block 5 booster will provide the 15% increase necessary to RTLS, but it's hard to get a definitive answer based on the info we have so far.

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... (higher thrust = higher fuel flow = shorter total burn time) ...

Does it have to be that way? isn't it possible to get higher thrust by improving isp, so you can get more thrust out of the same fuel flow?

I understand that we may already know what SpaceX is doing with regards to the M1D and we may already know they are increasing fuel flow, just wondering if that is always the case?

Edit: correct quote.

When you throttle a rocket engine up, you're really just spinning the turbopumps faster, which pumps mass into the chamber faster and raises the chamber pressure. The exhaust velocity does increase with chamber pressure, especially in the atmosphere, but the mass flow rate increases faster then exhaust velocity. The two are linked and can't be changed separately just by throttling.

There's another variable here though, and that's fuel mass available. Because SpaceX is subcooling, the fuel mass in the tanks is a function of both volume and temperature, and temperature is a function of time. Late LOX load leaves more LOX mass in the tanks, so the equation above (higher thrust = higher fuel flow = shorter total burn time) only holds for identical loading timelines.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2017 05:44 PM by envy887 »

Offline Lar

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Will we ever see a east cost land landing :(

Do you mean west coast? We have had several east coast land landings.
"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 baldusi

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... (higher thrust = higher fuel flow = shorter total burn time) ...

Does it have to be that way? isn't it possible to get higher thrust by improving isp, so you can get more thrust out of the same fuel flow?

I understand that we may already know what SpaceX is doing with regards to the M1D and we may already know they are increasing fuel flow, just wondering if that is always the case?

Edit: correct quote.

When you throttle a rocket engine up, you're really just spinning the turbopumps faster, which pumps mass into the chamber faster and raises the chamber pressure. The exhaust velocity does increase with chamber pressure, especially in the atmosphere, but the mass flow rate increases faster then exhaust velocity. The two are linked and can't be changed separately just by throttling.

There's another variable here though, and that's fuel mass available. Because SpaceX is subcooling, the fuel mass in the tanks is a function of both volume and temperature, and temperature is a function of time. Late LOX load leaves more LOX mass in the tanks, so the equation above (higher thrust = higher fuel flow = shorter total burn time) only holds for identical loading timelines.

Don't forget that Merlin 1 are gas generator engines. To increase Pc, you need to increase massflow through the gas generator, which is dump overboard and basically offers no thrust. So you gain thrust and Pc, which also increases isp, but then you lose also a bigger proportion of your mass through the GG. At certain point, increasing the Pc decreases overall isp due to the increased fraction of massflow deviated to the gas generators.

Offline deruch

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Don't forget that Merlin 1 are gas generator engines. To increase Pc, you need to increase massflow through the gas generator, which is dump overboard and basically offers no thrust. So you gain thrust and Pc, which also increases isp, but then you lose also a bigger proportion of your mass through the GG. At certain point, increasing the Pc decreases overall isp due to the increased fraction of massflow deviated to the gas generators.
Interesting.  Suggests the possibility of improved rocket performance without a change in Isp by increasing the efficiency of the GG and thereby having to divert less prop mass to a stream that provides no effective thrust.  Would be the equivalent of loading more propellants.  Given talk of alterations to the turbines to deal with cracking issues, maybe it's not farfetched to consider such a change as well?
« Last Edit: 05/18/2017 01:16 AM by deruch »
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Don't forget that Merlin 1 are gas generator engines. To increase Pc, you need to increase massflow through the gas generator, which is dump overboard and basically offers no thrust. So you gain thrust and Pc, which also increases isp, but then you lose also a bigger proportion of your mass through the GG. At certain point, increasing the Pc decreases overall isp due to the increased fraction of massflow deviated to the gas generators.
Interesting.  Suggests the possibility of improved rocket performance without a change in Isp by increasing the efficiency of the GG and thereby having to divert less prop mass to a stream that provides no effective thrust.  Would be the equivalent of loading more propellants.  Given talk of alterations to the turbines to deal with cracking issues, maybe it's not farfetched to consider such a change as well?
The only way to improve the performance without sacrificing extra mass, is if they somehow improved the turbine efficiency. Either by improving the mechanical design or by increasing the gas generator output temperature, both extremely difficult task that would probably mean a Merlin 1E.

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Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss  25m25 minutes ago
Replying to @CJDaniels77
Start shipping satellites this weekend; rocket stages show up next week...

link to tweet

And the related core seems underway too:

first_stage_spotted_westbound @Reddit

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Not yet mentioned, that Iridium-2 planned ASDS position is only 300km downrange, compare to Iridium-1 with 372km downrange.
That's for 20% closer to launch pad with same payload -  probably thanks to different F9 performance.

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-  probably thanks to different F9 performance.
Or a more lofted trajectory... Or some sort of partial boost back test.... Or
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-  probably thanks to different F9 performance.
Or a more lofted trajectory... Or some sort of partial boost back test.... Or
There are unconfirmed/unofficial information the last 2 F9 flights used Block IV upper stage with Block III booster. Assuming higher thrust levels, less gravity losses are experienced which produces more useful Delta V. This would leave more performance on the booster for recovery burns.
Eventually a Block V booster should be able to RTLS or at least land on ASDS fairly close to Vandy for those Iridium launches.

But if its going to be an ASDS landing, for west coast launches having ASDS very close to VAFB isn't useful as they are unloading recovered boosters in the LA area. 200km downrange recovery is likely easier, unless RTLS is operational.

Right now its far more useful to let boosters have more performance for a longer re-entry burn so its subject to less heating than to prefer a tight RTLS profile.

If I were a reflight customer, I would prefer a nice ASDS landing than a hot RTLS one. Just saying.
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How can a barge landing ever be "less hot" than returning to the launch site? I mean theoretically it can but if you have the fuel to slow down you can very well just return home.

Also: does not the base at Vandenberg have a port, isn't there anything that could be used instead of Los Angeles? This assumes they do not need to return the rocket back at the factory for refurbishment purposes (and I expect in th long run they would like to avoid this)

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How can a barge landing ever be "less hot" than returning to the launch site? I mean theoretically it can but if you have the fuel to slow down you can very well just return home.

Also: does not the base at Vandenberg have a port, isn't there anything that could be used instead of Los Angeles? This assumes they do not need to return the rocket back at the factory for refurbishment purposes (and I expect in th long run they would like to avoid this)
Even if there's a port at Vandy, so far there's no word of a Vandy refurb facility, if the booster is either going to be refurbed in Hawthorne, McGregor or Florida (like the first Iridium launch was), what's the point in disembarking closer to VAFB ?

Because the RTLS boostback apparently is 100% a horizontal burn towards the landing site, vertical apogee is the same, what makes typical RTLS nicer landings is there's more fuel left, so the re-entry burn starts a few seconds sooner, reducing peaking and total re-entry heating.
If boostback burns are slightly upward, you get a higher apogee, so more fuel must be spent for the same thermal profile. If boostback is slightly downward, you get less apogee, but a shorter parabolic arc back towards the LZ which might fall short.

But if the boostback fuel is instead used for an even longer re-entry burn, it can soften the re-entry even more.

But on typical high performance GTO launches, the booster apogee is even higher, aka, faster re-entry interface speed, and even without boostback, there isn't much fuel for re-entry, SpaceX is force to make due.

The expectation is with Block V F9+FH, the F9/FH line will be set such that a longer re-entry burn is doable on every F9 launch. The fundamental question is if those 6100kg to super sync launches will ever be sold even for Block V F9, or if the customer will only be offered a FH contract. Maybe reflown FHs will be as cheap as expendable F9 launches.
Remember I'm talking about moving forward, not about what has been sold already, and lets recall that the Inmarsat launch was originally a FH launch that got shifted to a F9 expendable to avoid loosing the contract, it was likely far from the usual.

With future CRS Block V launches, we could see even much softer re-entries.

Ok all of that are educated guesses from an arm chair rocket engineer. But all conclusions are very logical. I've said this much even on L2 (the same jist) and got only upvotes, nobody argued I was wrong.
« Last Edit: 05/21/2017 10:03 PM by macpacheco »
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OK so you mean: instead of expending fuel to return to launch site, just use it to perform a longer re-entry burn and just land on the barge, applying less heat and possibly acceleration stresses to preserve the rocket.

Well landing at a shorter distance to the launch site, meaning the barge positioned just after the MECO point, and then using fuel to zero out horizontal velocity but not reverse direction, could deliver the "mellowest" re-entry, again if there is enough fuel and the aim is to preserve the rocket for as many re-uses as possible.

Another thing: yes there isn't a Vandenberg refurbishment facility; a possible theory is that launch rate from this location is low enough that they might get to "full, rapid reuse" (close to the "24h" one) and just need the regular integration facility etc

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OK so you mean: instead of expending fuel to return to launch site, just use it to perform a longer re-entry burn and just land on the barge, applying less heat and possibly acceleration stresses to preserve the rocket.

Well landing at a shorter distance to the launch site, meaning the barge positioned just after the MECO point, and then using fuel to zero out horizontal velocity but not reverse direction, could deliver the "mellowest" re-entry, again if there is enough fuel and the aim is to preserve the rocket for as many re-uses as possible.

Another thing: yes there isn't a Vandenberg refurbishment facility; a possible theory is that launch rate from this location is low enough that they might get to "full, rapid reuse" (close to the "24h" one) and just need the regular integration facility etc
24h refurb is mostly about how much resources are required for the refurb.
Say SpaceX has the ability to launch every day. And has enough payloads to fill such awesome cadence. Its far more likely a few dozen boosters would be recycled rather than as few as possible. Otherwise the more extensive refurb expected every 10 launches would be a substantial bottleneck.
Recycling the very same booster again and again only makes sense with zero refurb like aspired by the ITS video of the same booster launching the spaceship then launching the tanker in short cadence, also assuming the booster can fly 100x between refurbs and the high cadence is temporary such as only during synods.
If larger tonnage to a target or a substantially higher number of satellites launch throughput is desired a larger payload stack is a better bet than a launch every day aspiration.
« Last Edit: 05/22/2017 12:17 AM by macpacheco »
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I might take years to fly a single "Vandenberg" booster 10 times. But if such booster does not need extensive refurbishment they would not need a designated facility at Vandenberg. When a more extensive refurb is needed they might get it to the factory.
What I am trying to say, is that they may end up not needing an additional, refurbishment dedicated facility to perform RTLS or even tow the barge back at Vandenberg

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I might take years to fly a single "Vandenberg" booster 10 times. But if such booster does not need extensive refurbishment they would not need a designated facility at Vandenberg. When a more extensive refurb is needed they might get it to the factory.
What I am trying to say, is that they may end up not needing an additional, refurbishment dedicated facility to perform RTLS or even tow the barge back at Vandenberg

Very true, I think they could even get by by just using one side of the HIF as a booster refurb facility, and have 2 Vandenberg boosters, since they'll only have like 3-5 Vandy launches per year.
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I might take years to fly a single "Vandenberg" booster 10 times. But if such booster does not need extensive refurbishment they would not need a designated facility at Vandenberg. When a more extensive refurb is needed they might get it to the factory.
What I am trying to say, is that they may end up not needing an additional, refurbishment dedicated facility to perform RTLS or even tow the barge back at Vandenberg

Very true, I think they could even get by by just using one side of the HIF as a booster refurb facility, and have 2 Vandenberg boosters, since they'll only have like 3-5 Vandy launches per year.

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Very true, I think they could even get by by just using one side of the HIF as a booster refurb facility, and have 2 Vandenberg boosters, since they'll only have like 3-5 Vandy launches per year.

They have about 8 per year scheduled in 2017 and 2018.  (I'd be surprised if they get that many launched in 2017, and a couple payload delivery dates could slip of course.)

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Very true, I think they could even get by by just using one side of the HIF as a booster refurb facility, and have 2 Vandenberg boosters, since they'll only have like 3-5 Vandy launches per year.

They have about 8 per year scheduled in 2017 and 2018.  (I'd be surprised if they get that many launched in 2017, and a couple payload delivery dates could slip of course.)

Vandy was envisioned by SpaceX to be launching 30x per year a couple years back.  Much of the ConnX will be launched here, so those old numbers may be on low side.  That starts in 2019, and probably will not show on manifest kept here.  I would not be surprised to see weekly RTLS launches.
« Last Edit: 05/22/2017 11:27 AM by AncientU »
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Very true, I think they could even get by by just using one side of the HIF as a booster refurb facility, and have 2 Vandenberg boosters, since they'll only have like 3-5 Vandy launches per year.

They have about 8 per year scheduled in 2017 and 2018.  (I'd be surprised if they get that many launched in 2017, and a couple payload delivery dates could slip of course.)

Vandy was envisioned by SpaceX to be launching 30x per year a couple years back.  Much of the ConnX will be launched here, so those old numbers may be on low side.  That starts in 2019, and probably will not show on manifest kept here.  I would not be surprised to see weekly RTLS launches.

They would need to revamp the TEL to do a throwback if they want to launch that often.
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Very true, I think they could even get by by just using one side of the HIF as a booster refurb facility, and have 2 Vandenberg boosters, since they'll only have like 3-5 Vandy launches per year.

They have about 8 per year scheduled in 2017 and 2018.  (I'd be surprised if they get that many launched in 2017, and a couple payload delivery dates could slip of course.)

Vandy was envisioned by SpaceX to be launching 30x per year a couple years back.  Much of the ConnX will be launched here, so those old numbers may be on low side.  That starts in 2019, and probably will not show on manifest kept here.  I would not be surprised to see weekly RTLS launches.

They would need to revamp the TEL to do a throwback if they want to launch that often.

Does the TEL need to be modified to take FH anyway? In which case do the throwback upgrade at the same time.
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Yes, the Tel is not complete for FH. But memory says they were not planning any FH launches there now that 39a Tel will be upgraded for FH.

Also, memory said the throwback was first used at Vandenberg. Does the Tel need any modifications?

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Yes, the Tel is not complete for FH. But memory says they were not planning any FH launches there now that 39a Tel will be upgraded for FH.

Also, memory said the throwback was first used at Vandenberg. Does the Tel need any modifications?

Vandenberg does not have a throwback TEL but does have TEL sized for FH. Like the TEL at 39A however, it lacks the extra TSMs and hold downs necessary for FH.

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Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss 9m9 minutes ago

And here are the those first two Iridium NEXT satellites for Launch 2 arriving at VAFB. I'm hoping visibility is much better on June 29th!

https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/866669571129966592

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A slightly earlier tweet confirming booster is at VAFB too:

Quote
Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss 18m18 minutes ago

First two Iridium NEXT sats are on the road to VAFB for Launch #2!  Tracking, of course, by Iridium M2M/IoT.  F9 Stage 1 there now too

https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/866667939688321025
« Last Edit: 05/22/2017 03:12 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

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Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss 5m5 minutes ago

Great progress continues towards Launch #2.  Stage 2 arrived today joining Stage 1. Fairing too. 4 of 10 NEXT sats now being processed!

https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/867775598415851520

Offline Flying Beaver

Cool! Probably sorts out June manifest to this: 1st, 15th, 25th (Vandy), 30th Cape.

(Got to rethink some travel plans now xD)
« Last Edit: 05/25/2017 06:11 PM by Flying Beaver »
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May 25, 2017

New Target Date for Second Iridium® NEXT Launch

Second Batch of 10 Iridium NEXT Satellites Now Scheduled for June 25th Launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base
MCLEAN, Va., May 25, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Iridium Communications (NASDAQ:IRDM) today announced the second launch for the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation has been moved earlier, and is now targeted for June 25, 2017 at 1:24:59 PDT with an instantaneous launch window.  SpaceX informed Iridium that range availability had opened up at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California, where SpaceX's west coast launch facility is located, and planned to target Iridium's launch four days earlier than originally scheduled. This launch will deliver the second payload of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit, bringing the total to 20 Iridium NEXT satellites in space.

"We're excited for this next launch," said Matt Desch, chief executive officer, Iridium. "Satellites have already started to arrive at the launch site and are undergoing pre-launch preparations, so we'll be ready to go.  An earlier launch date is all the better for our constellation deployment plans."   

Iridium has partnered with SpaceX for a series of eight launches scheduled to take place through mid-2018, delivering a total of 75 satellites to low-Earth orbit. Iridium NEXT is replacing the Company's existing constellation of satellites with more powerful capabilities, including Aireon's space-based global real-time aircraft surveillance and tracking service.

For more information and up-to-date information about Iridium NEXT, please visit www.IridiumNEXT.com .

Saw OG-2 Booster Land in person 21/12/2015.

Cool!

Now that's a rare sight! I guess it gives the executives more time to travel in-between launch sites too.

Offline mn

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Could this be due to SpaceX having limited launch teams and they need the same people for Vandy and the East coast Intelsat launch

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Seems like they are trying to launch 'early and often.'
Gaining back a five day block could add margin later on.
Cannot hurt revenue flow either.
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Still kinda picking my jaw off the floor here, but that does seem like it would help flow a lot

Paging Ed Kyle, when was the last time anyone (at least semi realistically) planned to launch 4 launchers as similar as these in the same 30 day span? Yeah probably won't happen but if they can pull it off, wow.
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Most of the tweets and posts I've seen omit am or pm and most folks assume am. https://www.iridiumnext.com/ is saying 1:25 PM, but that's the only one and might be a goofy web person.

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Most of the tweets and posts I've seen omit am or pm and most folks assume am. https://www.iridiumnext.com/ is saying 1:25 PM, but that's the only one and might be a goofy web person.

What's the real poop?

Matt Desch said p.m.

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Could this be due to SpaceX having limited launch teams and they need the same people for Vandy and the East coast Intelsat launch

I believe the press release.  The range opened up.  If the launcher and payload are ready, then take the earlier date.

It'd be exciting and fun for us space junkies to launch 4 times in a month (June 1 to July 1). 

Launch when ready, don't get go fever, they'll have other chances to set a record pace.
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Still kinda picking my jaw off the floor here, but that does seem like it would help flow a lot

Paging Ed Kyle, when was the last time anyone (at least semi realistically) planned to launch 4 launchers as similar as these in the same 30 day span? Yeah probably won't happen but if they can pull it off, wow.
Well, if you count Delta, N-1, and Thor as the same rocket, they flew three back in February of 1976.

Four Thor's in May of 1968.

Actually five Thor and Delta launches between Nov. 20th 1968 and Dec. 19th 1968. I think the bar has been raised :-)
« Last Edit: 05/25/2017 10:20 PM by kevin-rf »
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Iridium Launch 2 sat processing going well: SVs 121 & 113 up, 115 & 120 underway, and 117 and 118 on the way. T-minus 30 days and counting!

https://twitter.com/iridiumboss/status/868181379783286784

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Still kinda picking my jaw off the floor here, but that does seem like it would help flow a lot

Paging Ed Kyle, when was the last time anyone (at least semi realistically) planned to launch 4 launchers as similar as these in the same 30 day span? Yeah probably won't happen but if they can pull it off, wow.
Well, if you count Delta, N-1, and Thor as the same rocket, they flew three back in February of 1976.

Four Thor's in May of 1968.

Actually five Thor and Delta launches between Nov. 20th 1968 and Dec. 19th 1968. I think the bar has been raised :-)

All orbital?
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Offline whitelancer64

Still kinda picking my jaw off the floor here, but that does seem like it would help flow a lot

Paging Ed Kyle, when was the last time anyone (at least semi realistically) planned to launch 4 launchers as similar as these in the same 30 day span? Yeah probably won't happen but if they can pull it off, wow.
Well, if you count Delta, N-1, and Thor as the same rocket, they flew three back in February of 1976.

Four Thor's in May of 1968.

Actually five Thor and Delta launches between Nov. 20th 1968 and Dec. 19th 1968. I think the bar has been raised :-)

All orbital?

One suborbital. All from different launch sites.

11-20 Thor ASAT test, suborbital Johnston LE-1
12-05 Delta E1 Magnetosphere research satellite, HEO CCAFS LC-17B
12-12 Thor Reconnaissance satellite, LEO VAFB SLC-3W
12-15 Delta N Weather satellite, LEO/SSO VAFB SLC-2E
12-19 Delta M Communications satellite, GEO CCAFS LC-17A
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Still kinda picking my jaw off the floor here, but that does seem like it would help flow a lot

Paging Ed Kyle, when was the last time anyone (at least semi realistically) planned to launch 4 launchers as similar as these in the same 30 day span? Yeah probably won't happen but if they can pull it off, wow.
Thor Agena put together some runs.  For example, from June 4, 1964 through July 2, 1964 there were five Thor Agena D launches (four TAT Agena D and one Thor Agena D), all from VAFB.  Two were from the same launch pad only 15 days apart.  All were orbital flights and all were successful.

Atlas Agena flew four times orbital inside of a month during August-September 1966.  These are just spot checks.  There may be more examples.

R-7, of course, used to fly many times per month routinely.  I see instances of eight or nine launches during several months of the 1970s-80s.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 12:30 AM by edkyle99 »

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Still kinda picking my jaw off the floor here, but that does seem like it would help flow a lot

Paging Ed Kyle, when was the last time anyone (at least semi realistically) planned to launch 4 launchers as similar as these in the same 30 day span? Yeah probably won't happen but if they can pull it off, wow.
Thor Agena put together some runs.  For example, from June 4, 1964 through July 2, 1964 there were five Thor Agena D launches (four TAT Agena D and one Thor Agena D), all from VAFB.  Two were from the same launch pad only 15 days apart.  All were orbital flights and all were successful.

Atlas Agena flew four times orbital inside of a month during August-September 1966.  These are just spot checks.  There may be more examples.

R-7, of course, used to fly many times per month routinely.  I see instances of eight or nine launches during several months of the 1970s-80s.

 - Ed Kyle

So, fifty years ago in the US, and around thirty years ago in the USSR.
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A fast paced launch cadence is good, but total orbital launches are not looking so healthy.
Today we are 40% through the year and there have been 29 orbital launch attempts.
Projecting that through to the end of the year would give us 72-73 attempts, which is notably lower than previous years.
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Offline woods170

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A fast paced launch cadence is good, but total orbital launches are not looking so healthy.
Today we are 40% through the year and there have been 29 orbital launch attempts.
Projecting that through to the end of the year would give us 72-73 attempts, which is notably lower than previous years.
You are overlooking the end-of-year surge in launches from China.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Update: 2nd launch prep is humming along w/ #IridiumNEXT sats being mated to their dispensers. 6/25 here we come! @SpaceX #NEXTevolution

https://twitter.com/iridiumcomm/status/870319126933233664

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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With All Second Launch Satellites at Vandenberg, Iridium® Prepares for the Pace to Quicken
by Iridium | Jun 5, 2017

All 10 Iridium NEXT Satellites Undergoing Final Launch Preparations

Iridium Communications (NASDAQ: IRDM), today announced that all 10 Iridium NEXT satellites have arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California and are being processed for the second launch. Scheduled for June 25th at 1:25 pm PDT (20:25 UTC), this launch begins an ambitious deployment cadence for the additional six SpaceX launches of Iridium NEXT satellites.

“First launch testing and validation activities went smoothly, so I have every confidence that our team will more than meet the challenge ahead,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. “We’re looking at a spectacular pace of new satellites entering service, that nobody has done since Iridium, the first time around.”
The June 25th launch is the second of eight launches for the Iridium NEXT program. Under the lead of Thales Alenia Space (Iridium NEXT System Prime Contractor), the satellites were shipped in pairs from the Orbital ATK Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Gilbert, Arizona. The satellites were transported in specially designed motion and temperature-controlled shipping containers. Upon arrival, each satellite began pre-launch processing which will continue up until launch day. This includes mating them to the dispensers, fueling and encapsulation within the payload fairing. Simultaneously, SpaceX is processing the first and second stages for static fire and launch. All components are on-site and on schedule at this time for launch.

Iridium NEXT is the Company’s next-generation global satellite constellation scheduled for completion in 2018. Iridium NEXT represents the evolution of critical communications infrastructure that governments and organizations worldwide rely upon to drive business, enable connectivity, empower disaster relief efforts and more. Iridium NEXT will introduce new capabilities including, Iridium CertusSM, the Company’s next-generation multi-service communications platform, that will deliver broadband speeds over L-band for aviation, maritime, land mobile, Internet of Things and government organizations. It will also enable the AireonSM space-based ADS-B real-time, global aircraft surveillance and flight tracking system.

http://blog.iridium.com/2017/06/05/with-all-second-launch-satellites-at-vandenberg-iridium-prepares-for-the-pace-to-quicken/
« Last Edit: 06/05/2017 05:51 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Not only onsite, but now all mated to dispenser!  We're on schedule for fueling this weekend.  T-minus 18 days and counting to L2!

https://twitter.com/iridiumboss/status/872257623411884032

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Iridium has tweeted a photo to go with confirmation of all 10 NEXT2 SVs mated:

https://twitter.com/iridiumcomm/status/873277180859559940

Offline gongora

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[Space Intel Report] exactEarth still paying for Canadian contract loss, but backlog growing
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Mobile communications provider Iridium and launch-service provider SpaceX have scheduled the launch of a second 10-satellite batch of Iridium spacecraft for June 25. Nine of them have exactEarth/Harris AIS payloads.

Four of these payloads were on the first Iridium Next launch. The exactView RT, for real-time, service using the Iridium-hosted transponders began initial service in May.

In a conference call with investors, exactEarth CEO Peter Mason said the performance of the new transponders is as good as expected. Once about 30 of them are in orbit — by mid-2018 according to the latest Iridium schedule — customers will be able to collect ship data less than a minute after it is captured by the satellites.

Offline gongora

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[GPS World] Navigation from LEO: Current capability and future promise
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LEO-based PNT is now mainstream, in the form of real-time signals that have been delivered over the Iridium satellite network since May 2016. This service is made possible by Satelles in partnership with Iridium Communications Inc. in a service called the Satellite Time and Location (STL), a non-GNSS solution for assured time and location that is highly resilient and physically secure. Consumers, businesses, and governments are already using these LEO-based signals in environments with high GNSS interference or occlusion. ... STL field tests demonstrate a positioning accuracy of 20 meters and timekeeping to within 1 microsecond, all in deep attenuation environments indoors. ... The hundreds of LEO satellites needed to match the coverage of GPS may be coming.

Offline gongora

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[KEYT News] SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket scheduled to launch from Vandenberg AFB
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...
This will be the first launch for Col. Michael S. Hough who took over as commander of the 30th Space Wing on June 9th.

"This will also be our first launch with the Autonomous Flight Safety System, which is expected to help decrease launch costs and improve turnaround times between launches," said Hough.

Jalama Beach County Park, about 30 miles south of Vandenberg Air Force Base, will be evacuated on June 25th from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. due to the Falcon 9 launch. Campers will be evacuated to the end of Jalama Road onto Highway 1, according to Santa Barbara County Parks.

Offline gongora

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[Space Intel Report] Iridium thinking ahead to life after Coface loan, when M&A is possible
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Addressing a William Blair investor conference, Desch noted that SpaceX’s next launch [Bulgariasat-1], of a Bulgarian telecommunications satellite into geostationary orbit, will use the same Falcon 9 first stage as that used for Iridium’s January flight.

But Iridium’s contract called for all-new rocket hardware and so the company will not be using a refurbished stage for any of its launches.

“I have no problem with using a reused [first stage],” Desch said. “But give me a big discount and then we’ll talk about it.”

Offline Pete

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Is this mission still slated for 25 june, 2017?
.
I cannot find an "update" thread for it, and surely there must be such a thing?

Offline gongora

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Is this mission still slated for 25 june, 2017?
.
I cannot find an "update" thread for it, and surely there must be such a thing?

It is still scheduled for the 25th.  You can put all relevant information in this thread until the update thread is active.

Offline Comga

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Is this mission still slated for 25 june, 2017?

I cannot find an "update" thread for it, and surely there must be such a thing?
It's now right here in SpaceX Missions. 
(Edit: A half hour after you asked.  Is that service or what?)
« Last Edit: 06/14/2017 08:57 PM by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Wolfram66

Why the Hail Mary ASDS trajectory? Is it because of the up mass of the 10 satellites? I figured they would move the ASDS JTRI parallel with VAFB, just offshore to test RTLS on the west cost.
Any thoughts?

Offline gongora

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Why the Hail Mary ASDS trajectory? Is it because of the up mass of the 10 satellites? I figured they would move the ASDS JTRI parallel with VAFB, just offshore to test RTLS on the west cost.
Any thoughts?

Heavy payload, their port is well south of VAFB, and why would they need to do a test just offshore before RTLS?

Stcks pointed out on Reddit that JTRI will be about 70 km closer to the pad than for the for the previous mission. Does this imply a lower velocity at MECO, or could they use a more lofted trajectory this time round?
« Last Edit: 06/20/2017 11:01 PM by tvg98 »

Online stcks

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Why the Hail Mary ASDS trajectory?

300 km from the launch site isn't a Hail Mary. The GTO missions do more than twice that.

Offline SweetWater

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Why the Hail Mary ASDS trajectory? Is it because of the up mass of the 10 satellites? I figured they would move the ASDS JTRI parallel with VAFB, just offshore to test RTLS on the west cost.
Any thoughts?

Maybe SpaceX wants to test something - guidance, software governing the retro and/or re-entry burns etc. - on what is, essentially, a "free" booster? They're developing quite the stable of recovered Block 3 first stages, and they want to move to Block 5 (human-rated and supporting easier reuse) sometime around the end of the year - someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

AFAIK, we don't know whether or to what degree the Block 3 boosters can be upgraded to Block 4 or Block 5. Maybe SpaceX wants to do a live test of an extreme recovery. If they get the first stage back, great; if not, they get valuable data, and the stage was paid for in any case.

Online stcks

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Maybe SpaceX wants to do a live test of an extreme recovery. If they get the first stage back, great; if not, they get valuable data, and the stage was paid for in any case.

Again, this isn't extreme. Its less punishing than the first Iridium mission and basically the same distance as CRS-8.

Offline Steve D

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Maybe SpaceX wants to do a live test of an extreme recovery. If they get the first stage back, great; if not, they get valuable data, and the stage was paid for in any case.

Again, this isn't extreme. Its less punishing than the first Iridium mission and basically the same distance as CRS-8.

I have noticed on the last few launches that the first stage flip and burn seem to be alot quicker then before. Maybe that helps minimize the distance down range.


Offline Pete

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I have noticed on the last few launches that the first stage flip and burn seem to be alot quicker then before. Maybe that helps minimize the distance down range.
The rapid flip is only needed when a boostback burn is needed, i.e. for a return to launch site or for a drone ship closer to shore than the normal trajectory distance.

After MECO, each second of delay before start of boostback burn costs you:
1 less second of flight time, *and*
2.5 kilometers more horizontal distance to cover back to your landing pad.
.
This means every second of wasted time costs you something like 50 m/s of delta-v needed on the boostback burn in addition to the minimum. (and some more on the re-entry burn, because you will be arriving faster)
« Last Edit: Today at 07:02 AM by Pete »

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