Author Topic: SpaceX Core Spotting  (Read 152895 times)

Offline Alexphysics

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #340 on: 01/22/2019 05:30 am »
It may just have a white wrapping on the interstage.  See here for an example:
https://www.teslarati.com/new-spacex-falcon-9-booster-cape-canaveral-florida/s1-stand-and-booster-071818-aero-photo/
Ah, I'd forgotten about that picture, thanks. So much for my complicated theories. ;)

Now I'm curious all over again what the deal is with that white interstage we saw in the factory. If not for this, then what... ???

I really thought about it back then and I just think it is just a simple fit check interstage. It is used and before being integrated on that booster, there is a picture from SpaceX's twitter account where you can see it just standing on a random corner of the factory. I don't think it even is intended to fly. Also the interstages are usually installed after the engines (at least that's what they usually have done, but things could change) and I saw the Everyday Astronaut livestream and I noticed there were no engines installed on the booster yet, the booster is clearly a Block 5 but the interstage could have just simply been a fit check article taken from an old previously flown booster.

Offline gemmy0I

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #341 on: 01/22/2019 07:45 am »
I really thought about it back then and I just think it is just a simple fit check interstage. It is used and before being integrated on that booster, there is a picture from SpaceX's twitter account where you can see it just standing on a random corner of the factory. I don't think it even is intended to fly. Also the interstages are usually installed after the engines (at least that's what they usually have done, but things could change) and I saw the Everyday Astronaut livestream and I noticed there were no engines installed on the booster yet, the booster is clearly a Block 5 but the interstage could have just simply been a fit check article taken from an old previously flown booster.
That makes sense. Now that you mention it I do believe I've seen the picture to which you refer, wherein the mystery interstage is standing by itself in the factory. With all the recovered hardware they have lying around, using the not-quite-suitable-for-reflight pieces as dummies is a smart move. Who needs purpose-built boilerplate pieces for fit checks when you're awash in genuine surplus parts that have been to space? ;-)

I suppose I should be getting over this by now, but it still defies intuition to realize that the era of routine reflight has given us, for the first time in history, "junk" that has been to space. Only ten years ago that interstage would've been considered a museum piece (or at least would fetch a pretty penny on eBay)... ;D

So I guess it's black interstages all the way from here, then. It does seem strange that they bother to put the fancy black TPS on cores they're going to expend on their first flight, like 1054, but as others have speculated before, perhaps that'd be enough of a configuration change to throw off their Air Force certification. And/or maybe the Zoltec just isn't all that expensive in the grand scheme of things.
« Last Edit: 01/22/2019 07:47 am by gemmy0I »

Offline OccasionalTraveller

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #342 on: 01/22/2019 04:17 pm »
It was noted that the depiction of Falcon Heavy in the January 2019 version of the User's Guide has a white interstage, rather than black. It does have black raceways. The raceways on the centre core are in the same position as the PY (+Y, left-side) side booster. It could be that they've decided not to - or can't - paint the logo over the raceway as was done for the demo mission. Instead the logo in that rendering has been moved to the interstage.

The resolution of the photo isn't quite good enough to be certain, but it doesn't look to me like the interstage is all-white. There could be a logo there. I'm not certain of the orientation of the booster, but there's a darker vertical line down the middle of it which could be the raceway.

This is getting a bit off-topic for this thread, though. Perhaps a general FH thread?

Offline Alexphysics

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #343 on: 01/22/2019 04:38 pm »
It was noted that the depiction of Falcon Heavy in the January 2019 version of the User's Guide has a white interstage, rather than black. It does have black raceways. The raceways on the centre core are in the same position as the PY (+Y, left-side) side booster. It could be that they've decided not to - or can't - paint the logo over the raceway as was done for the demo mission. Instead the logo in that rendering has been moved to the interstage.

The resolution of the photo isn't quite good enough to be certain, but it doesn't look to me like the interstage is all-white. There could be a logo there. I'm not certain of the orientation of the booster, but there's a darker vertical line down the middle of it which could be the raceway.

This is getting a bit off-topic for this thread, though. Perhaps a general FH thread?

You can't see on those pictures if the interstage is white or not because the interstage is covered in white wrapping. Unless you go there and squeeze your nose through a hole on the wrapping you can't know if it is white, black, if it has any logo on it or things like that.

Offline Alexphysics

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #344 on: 01/22/2019 05:21 pm »
Booster seen in Valencia, California on the I-5. Judging by the location this one should be a booster going to Vandenberg and most probably the one for RADARSAT.

https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/aip20g/just_spotted_the_falcon_at_a_weighstation_on_i5n/

Offline gemmy0I

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #345 on: 01/22/2019 08:16 pm »
Booster seen in Valencia, California on the I-5. Judging by the location this one should be a booster going to Vandenberg and most probably the one for RADARSAT.

https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/aip20g/just_spotted_the_falcon_at_a_weighstation_on_i5n/
Any guesses which booster this is?

Based on where it was spotted, I'm guessing this is going straight from Hawthorne to Vandenberg (as opposed to coming from McGregor), right? (I'm not especially familiar with California geography, the answer to this question will likely be obvious to others here...)

If it's coming from Hawthorne, it's got to be a used booster, which makes sense since that's what RADARSAT is contracted to fly on. It was originally earmarked for 1050 but that booster had...other plans. ::)

There are only two used boosters on the west coast right now: 1046(.4) and 1049(.3). 1049 just landed on JRTI a week and a half ago; it's probably back in the factory by now but they've had precious little time to examine and refurbish it. So there are a couple of possibilities:

1. This is 1046.4, in which case we're in for our first .4 flight. Cool! 1046 last flew in December so they've had a plausible amount of time to refurbish it (assuming the .4 prep doesn't entail special difficulties). They might also be able to continue doing refurb work at Vandenberg, which may or may not be preferable to doing it at Hawthorne depending on how they're feeling about floor space right now. Given that RADARSAT isn't until March, I see no reason to ship it out this early unless either a) they're done refurbishing it, or b) they desperately need the floor space in Hawthorne.

2. If it's 1049.3, they must either be a) done with the refurbishment already (which would be a huge triumph for Block 5!), or b) planning to do essentially all of the refurb on-site at Vandenberg, which would be a new twist AFAIK.

Offline Orbiter

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #346 on: 01/23/2019 01:24 am »
I agree with the booster being B1046.4. Another option could be B1047.3 but this booster wasn't spotted anywhere else in the US.
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo, Falcon 9 Es'hail-2.

Online vaporcobra

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #347 on: 01/27/2019 08:21 am »
2. If it's 1049.3, they must either be a) done with the refurbishment already (which would be a huge triumph for Block 5!), or b) planning to do essentially all of the refurb on-site at Vandenberg, which would be a new twist AFAIK.

I agree with the booster being B1046.4. Another option could be B1047.3 but this booster wasn't spotted anywhere else in the US.

99% chance that B1047 is assigned to PSN-6, no real alternative aside from B1048. B1046 was being refurbished at Hawthorne as of Dec 17, while B1049 was no longer at Berth 52 as of Jan 22 and likely shipped out anywhere from 1-24 hours before.

50:50 chance between B1046.4 and B1049.3, imho. B1048 is the wildcard right now.

Offline Orbiter

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #348 on: 01/27/2019 02:57 pm »
2. If it's 1049.3, they must either be a) done with the refurbishment already (which would be a huge triumph for Block 5!), or b) planning to do essentially all of the refurb on-site at Vandenberg, which would be a new twist AFAIK.

I agree with the booster being B1046.4. Another option could be B1047.3 but this booster wasn't spotted anywhere else in the US.

99% chance that B1047 is assigned to PSN-6, no real alternative aside from B1048. B1046 was being refurbished at Hawthorne as of Dec 17, while B1049 was no longer at Berth 52 as of Jan 22 and likely shipped out anywhere from 1-24 hours before.

50:50 chance between B1046.4 and B1049.3, imho. B1048 is the wildcard right now.

I think it's 50:50 between B1047 and B1048 for PSN-6 but I'm leaning more towards B1048. Reasoning is that B1048 was in the LC-39A hangar as of December 18. We know FH boosters are arriving to the LC-39A hangar, so B1048 was probably moved after the GPS launch to the SLC-40 hangar.

https://twitter.com/EmreKelly/status/1075066770124365824
« Last Edit: 01/27/2019 02:58 pm by Orbiter »
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo, Falcon 9 Es'hail-2.


Online vaporcobra

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #350 on: 01/28/2019 12:17 am »
Meanwhile, I finally went through and tabulated all 2018 core spottings in a spreadsheet! Everything looks great and fits together except for the fact that some contributors seem to have totally forgotten about B1052 and B1053, neither of which has been spotted at or around any SpaceX facilities. B1052 and beyond (excluding B1054) are also the only cores thus far unaccounted for.

At this point, I'm nearly certain that - if they weren't skipped outright - 1052 and 1053 are the next two FH side boosters. Both are now in FL. If we extrapolate numerically, the wrapped-interstage booster spotted in McGregor on Jan 10 would thus be B1055, while B1056 is likely nearing completion in Hawthorne. From the perspective of Occam's Razor, one would have to explain what happened to 1052 and 1053 if they wanted to argue that SpaceX has already completed cores beyond B1054 (imho).

Just my $0.02 :)

Edit: lol mjsuarez, I probably clicked "post" 30 seconds after you :D
« Last Edit: 01/28/2019 12:19 am by vaporcobra »

Offline mjsuarez

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #351 on: 01/28/2019 12:48 am »
Meanwhile, I finally went through and tabulated all 2018 core spottings in a spreadsheet! Everything looks great and fits together except for the fact that some contributors seem to have totally forgotten about B1052 and B1053, neither of which has been spotted at or around any SpaceX facilities. B1052 and beyond (excluding B1054) are also the only cores thus far unaccounted for.

At this point, I'm nearly certain that - if they weren't skipped outright - 1052 and 1053 are the next two FH side boosters. Both are now in FL. If we extrapolate numerically, the wrapped-interstage booster spotted in McGregor on Jan 10 would thus be B1055, while B1056 is likely nearing completion in Hawthorne. From the perspective of Occam's Razor, one would have to explain what happened to 1052 and 1053 if they wanted to argue that SpaceX has already completed cores beyond B1054 (imho).

Just my $0.02 :)

Edit: lol mjsuarez, I probably clicked "post" 30 seconds after you :D

Looking back in this topic, it seems like the first side booster arrived at the Cape just as 1054 was launching, and so it was assumed that it was 1055.  This would make 1051, 1052, and 1053 the CommCrew boosters reserved by NASA and stored at McGregor. 1055, 1056, and 1057 would then be the FH boosters. This thinking also agreed with a reasonable production rate. If at this point we are at 1056 about to leave Hawthorne, booster production is way down. Would like to hear Alexphysics thoughts.

Online vaporcobra

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #352 on: 01/28/2019 03:36 am »
Meanwhile, I finally went through and tabulated all 2018 core spottings in a spreadsheet! Everything looks great and fits together except for the fact that some contributors seem to have totally forgotten about B1052 and B1053, neither of which has been spotted at or around any SpaceX facilities. B1052 and beyond (excluding B1054) are also the only cores thus far unaccounted for.

At this point, I'm nearly certain that - if they weren't skipped outright - 1052 and 1053 are the next two FH side boosters. Both are now in FL. If we extrapolate numerically, the wrapped-interstage booster spotted in McGregor on Jan 10 would thus be B1055, while B1056 is likely nearing completion in Hawthorne. From the perspective of Occam's Razor, one would have to explain what happened to 1052 and 1053 if they wanted to argue that SpaceX has already completed cores beyond B1054 (imho).

Just my $0.02 :)

Edit: lol mjsuarez, I probably clicked "post" 30 seconds after you :D

Looking back in this topic, it seems like the first side booster arrived at the Cape just as 1054 was launching, and so it was assumed that it was 1055.  This would make 1051, 1052, and 1053 the CommCrew boosters reserved by NASA and stored at McGregor. 1055, 1056, and 1057 would then be the FH boosters. This thinking also agreed with a reasonable production rate. If at this point we are at 1056 about to leave Hawthorne, booster production is way down. Would like to hear Alexphysics thoughts.

Yep. The problem I have with that line of thinking is that I'm not aware of an actual source for the idea that CCP boosters were produced back to back. SpaceX has never stockpiled entire stages (AFAIK) and that would thus be a NASA request or requirement that would have been brought up at some point in an ASAP or NAC meeting. Previous CCP presentations (like at the March 2018 NAC HEO meeting) have specifically referred to Falcon production when applicable, but nothing has been mentioned about the status of F9 builds for DM-2 or any mission beyond it.

Perhaps I've just forgotten a crucial sentence or presentation from 2018, but the core spottings and production slack just aren't there to support the idea that two extra boosters were completed and shipped in the last ~10 months (Feb-Dec). B1046 was shipped in mid-Feb 2018 and we have enough observations since then to account for at least ten boosters shipped in that period (B1046-B1051, B1054, FH: 2 side, 1 center), or an average of one booster shipped out of Hawthorne every ~30 days. It would be hard to ask for a better production pace for such a new vehicle.

It basically becomes more of a question of whether SpaceX has reserved core numbers 52 and 53 for Commercial Crew, as they clearly haven't built the boosters for DM-2 or PCM-1 yet.

Offline Alexphysics

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #353 on: 01/28/2019 07:46 am »
I would leave part of my thoughts here but part of them would be based on L2 info so... *zips mouth* :)

All I can say is that all what I thought was true these past months it is not and that we will have to wait for these boosters to be unwrapped and sitting on the pad to... *drumroll* DISCOVER THE TRUTH /j

Offline mjsuarez

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #354 on: 01/29/2019 02:17 am »
I would leave part of my thoughts here but part of them would be based on L2 info so... *zips mouth* :)

All I can say is that all what I thought was true these past months it is not and that we will have to wait for these boosters to be unwrapped and sitting on the pad to... *drumroll* DISCOVER THE TRUTH /j

OK. So I'll change my spreadsheet to 1052-55-53 for FH and 1056 for DM-2.

I think L2 silence is silly once this sort of unsourced, yet all-but-certain, press speculation appears.

I am not saying the Teslarati info has anything to do with L2. I don't even know what's on L2---I stopped paying because I disliked its secrecy aspect. But the whole thing does leave me scratching my head.

Offline Jakusb

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #355 on: 01/29/2019 02:10 pm »
I would leave part of my thoughts here but part of them would be based on L2 info so... *zips mouth* :)

All I can say is that all what I thought was true these past months it is not and that we will have to wait for these boosters to be unwrapped and sitting on the pad to... *drumroll* DISCOVER THE TRUTH /j

OK. So I'll change my spreadsheet to 1052-55-53 for FH and 1056 for DM-2.

I think L2 silence is silly once this sort of unsourced, yet all-but-certain, press speculation appears.

I am not saying the Teslarati info has anything to do with L2. I don't even know what's on L2---I stopped paying because I disliked its secrecy aspect. But the whole thing does leave me scratching my head.

As one of the people paying close attention to core movements and predicting which core is where and when, mainly for L2, I have to stress that all is pure speculation, except for some tid-bits of which some were not meant to even go to L2... ;)

Earlier thinking was heavily based on a statement that SpaceX was effectively producing cores every 20 days..
There were some signs that did seem to collaborate this production pace, hence we kept using it. Even when some cores were not seen being transported..
We are now moving our thinking to a much lower and less predictable production pace and that no core has reached McGregor unseen...
This last assumption would collaborate the theory that 1052 and 1053 actually were never moved to McGregor prior to 1054... between 1051 and 1054 was a big gap and it seems that actually was a production gap.
It is uncertain if cores were moved and parked internally at Hawthorne, which could explain the gap...

For now most of us seem to be getting more and more convinced that the next FH indeed is 1052-1055-1053...
1056 would then be the next out of Hawthorne any time now.

Regarding the value of L2 and it 'secrecy'.. L2 is meant to be a source of information that Chris and others can use to compose articles from. It is indeed not to be disclosed to public domain, but anyone can join, so in some sense still open to the public.
The fact that this sub-community is impressively self-managing, gives several sources the confidence to share small pieces of interesting information not shared in the public domain. Leaking from L2 would greatly harm this trust and stop these sources from sharing.
The money being payed for L2 is going directly to maintaining the servers of NSF, public and L2... And we all benefit greatly from this service, especially on launch days or when something else spectacular happened. ;)

So paying for L2 is your way of enabling NSF to keep providing the amazing service they are providing us all..
As a nice bonus you get access to a lot of information that is not yet shared (and sometimes never shared) in public domain..

Offline Alexphysics

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #356 on: 01/29/2019 02:56 pm »
I would leave part of my thoughts here but part of them would be based on L2 info so... *zips mouth* :)

All I can say is that all what I thought was true these past months it is not and that we will have to wait for these boosters to be unwrapped and sitting on the pad to... *drumroll* DISCOVER THE TRUTH /j

OK. So I'll change my spreadsheet to 1052-55-53 for FH and 1056 for DM-2.

I think L2 silence is silly once this sort of unsourced, yet all-but-certain, press speculation appears.

I am not saying the Teslarati info has anything to do with L2. I don't even know what's on L2---I stopped paying because I disliked its secrecy aspect. But the whole thing does leave me scratching my head.

As one of the people paying close attention to core movements and predicting which core is where and when, mainly for L2, I have to stress that all is pure speculation, except for some tid-bits of which some were not meant to even go to L2... ;)

Earlier thinking was heavily based on a statement that SpaceX was effectively producing cores every 20 days..
There were some signs that did seem to collaborate this production pace, hence we kept using it. Even when some cores were not seen being transported..
We are now moving our thinking to a much lower and less predictable production pace and that no core has reached McGregor unseen...
This last assumption would collaborate the theory that 1052 and 1053 actually were never moved to McGregor prior to 1054... between 1051 and 1054 was a big gap and it seems that actually was a production gap.
It is uncertain if cores were moved and parked internally at Hawthorne, which could explain the gap...

For now most of us seem to be getting more and more convinced that the next FH indeed is 1052-1055-1053...
1056 would then be the next out of Hawthorne any time now.

Regarding the value of L2 and it 'secrecy'.. L2 is meant to be a source of information that Chris and others can use to compose articles from. It is indeed not to be disclosed to public domain, but anyone can join, so in some sense still open to the public.
The fact that this sub-community is impressively self-managing, gives several sources the confidence to share small pieces of interesting information not shared in the public domain. Leaking from L2 would greatly harm this trust and stop these sources from sharing.
The money being payed for L2 is going directly to maintaining the servers of NSF, public and L2... And we all benefit greatly from this service, especially on launch days or when something else spectacular happened. ;)

So paying for L2 is your way of enabling NSF to keep providing the amazing service they are providing us all..
As a nice bonus you get access to a lot of information that is not yet shared (and sometimes never shared) in public domain..

I should add that, given the fact that they have been moving a few boosters back and forth we can't even ensure that the next booster to leave the factory will be indeed B1056 or  if even this booster has already gone to McGregor or something like that. It is really a challenge but it is one that I accept happily as these surprises make the "game" more funny and enjoyable. I always say I like surprises and SpaceX really knows how to surprise me.

Offline Orbiter

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #357 on: 01/29/2019 05:47 pm »
Focusing solely on what info that's readily available to the public, we can see that, for CRS missions, NASA only tends to reuse B5 boosters that have flown on previous NASA missions.  My bet is CRS-17 will utilize B1052 as there probably won't be enough of a turnaround to reuse B1051.

This precedence may have changed since CRS-15 and, if so, then all bets are off on core assignments: B1048 is likely the PSN-6 booster, so B1047 might be the CRS-17 booster then, but I do not think this is likely.

We know B1054 was reserved for GPS III and was expended, and we can count 3 FH boosters that have left Hawthorne and arrived at McGregor. My bet's that these boosters are B1053, B1055, and B1056, but we do not know which-is-which. 

From the FCC filing for the next FH mission, OCISLY is located nearly 1,000 km downrange. This will be an intensely challenging landing with a higher chance of failure. STP-2 is to reuse the ArabSat 6A boosters, so it's a safe guess that a backup will be available. My guess is that this is B1057 or B1058.
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo, Falcon 9 Es'hail-2.

Offline Jakusb

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #358 on: 01/30/2019 05:55 am »
Focusing solely on what info that's readily available to the public, we can see that, for CRS missions, NASA only tends to reuse B5 boosters that have flown on previous NASA missions.  My bet is CRS-17 will utilize B1052 as there probably won't be enough of a turnaround to reuse B1051.

This precedence may have changed since CRS-15 and, if so, then all bets are off on core assignments: B1048 is likely the PSN-6 booster, so B1047 might be the CRS-17 booster then, but I do not think this is likely.

We know B1054 was reserved for GPS III and was expended, and we can count 3 FH boosters that have left Hawthorne and arrived at McGregor. My bet's that these boosters are B1053, B1055, and B1056, but we do not know which-is-which. 

From the FCC filing for the next FH mission, OCISLY is located nearly 1,000 km downrange. This will be an intensely challenging landing with a higher chance of failure. STP-2 is to reuse the ArabSat 6A boosters, so it's a safe guess that a backup will be available. My guess is that this is B1057 or B1058.
I am beginning to think that the strange production gap might have to do with them producing two FH centers. Both taking much longer then normal cores. So indeed 1055 and 1056 or 1057 being FH centers.

Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX Core Spotting
« Reply #359 on: 01/30/2019 06:52 am »
Focusing solely on what info that's readily available to the public, we can see that, for CRS missions, NASA only tends to reuse B5 boosters that have flown on previous NASA missions.  My bet is CRS-17 will utilize B1052 as there probably won't be enough of a turnaround to reuse B1051.

This precedence may have changed since CRS-15 and, if so, then all bets are off on core assignments: B1048 is likely the PSN-6 booster, so B1047 might be the CRS-17 booster then, but I do not think this is likely.

I recall that the deciding criteria was the return profile of the core. If the core has a gentle descend, its a candidate for a NASA mission. In the past, that was mostly dragon missions, hence the (in my opinion) misconception that NASA only wants cores from previous NASA missions.

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