Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 : Iridium NEXT Flight 4 : December 22/23, 2017  (Read 24652 times)

Offline gongora

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DISCUSSION THREAD for Flight 4 of the Iridium NEXT missions.

Iridium NEXT launch has been targeted by SpaceX for December 22, 2017 at 5:26 p.m. PT on a Falcon 9 from SLC-4E at Vandenberg.  Landing of first stage on ASDS is expected.

   Flight 4 will launch into plane 2.  One of the satellites will then drift to plane 1.

   NSF Threads for Iridium NEXT Flight 4: Discussion / Updates / L2 Coverage November-December / ASDS / Party
   NSF Articles for Iridium NEXT Flight 4: 




See the Flight 1 Discussion Thread for more information and links to other Iridium Next threads and articles.

General information for Iridium flights 1-5 & 7-8
   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: 11/28/2017 06:56 PM by input~2 »

Offline gongora

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Quote
Tweet from Thales Alenia Space:
#KeyFigure : 30 #IridiumNEXT #satellites now fully operational in #orbit. 17 ready to be shipped. 17 under integration. @IridiumComm

Offline ChrisGebhardt

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For planning purposes, take note that Iridium said multiple times today that this will be NET early December, not NET late-November.

There are "a couple things being finalized" along with a desire on Iridium's part to deconflict with the Thanksgiving holiday.

That's all I can say right now.

Matt Desch says a target date will be released by Iridium within the next two weeks.

(Edit: fixed grammar)
« Last Edit: 10/09/2017 10:53 PM by ChrisGebhardt »

Offline gongora

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For planning purposes, take note that Iridium said multiple times today that this will be NET early December, not NET late-November.

There are "a couple things being finalized" along with a desire on Iridium's part to deconflict with the Thanksgiving holiday.

That's all I can say right now.

Matt Desch says a target date will be released by Iridium within the next two weeks.

(Edit: fixed grammar)

Matt Desch tweeted this earlier today, maybe his evil twin got his Twitter password  :)
Quote
Nominally late November, but working schedule with SpaceX now.  Will inform world soon.


Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Matt Desch tweeted this earlier today, maybe his evil twin got his Twitter password  :)
Quote
Nominally late November, but working schedule with SpaceX now.  Will inform world soon.

Do you have a link for that tweet? I couldn't find it.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

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Offline Jakusb

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« Last Edit: 10/13/2017 03:11 PM by gongora »

Quote
Matt Desch‏
@IridiumBoss

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be the first RTLS for our launch 4.  Wish it were true, but alas...

Now this has got me confused. What exactly would prevent this flight from being the first RTLS? Is it lack of performance? Regulations?

Offline yokem55

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Quote
Matt Desch‏
@IridiumBoss

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be the first RTLS for our launch 4.  Wish it were true, but alas...

Now this has got me confused. What exactly would prevent this flight from being the first RTLS? Is it lack of performance? Regulations?
Performance. Getting 10 mt to polar orbit at 600 km is a bit too much for the current falcon to RTLS. Keep in mind, it needs  a bit more boostback since it won't have the rotation of the Earth bringing the launch site closer as well.

I'm guessing that the news about landing at VAFB has more to do with having the necessary permits to do so once block 5 is flying.
« Last Edit: 10/18/2017 12:04 AM by yokem55 »

Offline 192

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https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/920015420777816065

There's also this ~24 hours earlier, could just be that he asked SpaceX and they said no RTLS, but he does say not the first RTLS rather than simply not RTLS. Is there any possibility SpaceX are planning a November Vandy launch now that Iridium 4 is December. I'd have thought we'd know about it by now if they were, but given we only just found out about Zuma and they still seem to be finalising Iridium 4 details according to Desch, maybe there's been a last minute schedule rearrangement.

Offline gongora

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https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/920015420777816065

There's also this ~24 hours earlier, could just be that he asked SpaceX and they said no RTLS, but he does say not the first RTLS rather than simply not RTLS. Is there any possibility SpaceX are planning a November Vandy launch now that Iridium 4 is December. I'd have thought we'd know about it by now if they were, but given we only just found out about Zuma and they still seem to be finalising Iridium 4 details according to Desch, maybe there's been a last minute schedule rearrangement.

No

Offline Chris Bergin

Need to set up the update thread, will get on that.

Latest round up of upcoming manifest events and some additional details via L2 - by Chris Gebhardt:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/10/spacex-zuma-iridium-4-aims-vandenberg-landing/

And with that there's been a change on the Iridium situation.

New article!

IR-4 now flight proven booster, the first from the West Coast! But back to Block 3, so can't RTLS as was the plan. Thanks to Iridium for being helpful in updating the status:

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/10/iridium-4-flight-proven-falcon-9-rtls-vandenberg-delayed/

- by Chris Gebhardt again :)

Offline Chris Bergin

And the presser is out:

Iridium Announces Date for Fourth Iridium® NEXT Launch

Agreement Signed with SpaceX to Use Flight-Proven First Stage of Falcon 9 Rocket

MCLEAN, Va. – October 19, 2017 - Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) announced today that the fourth Iridium NEXT launch has been targeted by SpaceX for December 22, 2017 at 5:26 p.m. PT [1:26 a.m. UTC on Dec. 23], from Vandenberg Air Force Base. This launch signifies the mid-way point of the Iridium NEXT launch program and will deliver another 10 satellites to orbit, bringing the total number deployed to 40. Targeted for just over two months after the third Iridium NEXT launch, this December date enables Iridium to maintain its planned cadence of completing all launches by mid-2018, even with SpaceX’s busy launch manifest.

To date, 30 Iridium NEXT satellites have been deployed, many of which are already providing service to customers. The new satellites are also now undergoing on-orbit testing for Iridium CertusSM, a major milestone on the path to introducing the company’s next generation broadband service.  Iridium Certus will feature small form factor, cost-effective terminals and antennas, and ultimately offer the fastest L-band broadband solution available, supported by the world's only truly global network.

In addition to the fourth launch date, Iridium also announced it has reached agreement with SpaceX to utilize flight-proven first stages for the next two Iridium launches.  Iridium conducted extensive due diligence work and is fully confident in the SpaceX booster refurbishment program.

“I believe that reusability is the future for satellite launches, and I think SpaceX has intelligently built their Falcon 9 program around this strategy,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. “With three successful flight-proven Falcon 9 launches already this year, we’re excited to show leadership towards the sustainable access to space, while also making sure we maintain our cadence to complete the five remaining Iridium NEXT launches by the middle of next year.”

Iridium confirmed with its insurers that there is no increase in premium for the launch program as a result of the use of flight-proven Falcon 9 rockets, further supporting Iridium’s conclusion that the risk profile is unchanged.

Iridium NEXT is the company’s $3 billion, next-generation, mobile, global satellite network scheduled for completion in 2018. Iridium NEXT will replace the company’s existing global constellation in one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space.  It 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 enable and introduce new services like the company’s next-generation communications platform, Iridium Certus, and the AireonSM space-based ADS-B aircraft surveillance and flight tracking network.

For more information about Iridium NEXT, please visit www.IridiumNEXT.com.

 

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.

###

Offline swervin

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No increase in insurance premiums, and seemingly no increase in launch cadence (not an earlier launch date as a result of this contract modification), so what was the incentive to switch to flight-proven first stage? I'm all for it, but just curious on the business case to do so? Any word on discounted launch price or discounted follow-on launches?

This makes available to another customer a new core that would already be in testing, any words on who might be able to utilize this core?

Cheers!

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Maybe Project Zuma has requested a fresh core. Given the tight schedule, SpaceX had to reallocate the Iridium-N4 core but were able to talk Iridium into accepting a reused core.
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Online FutureSpaceTourist

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No increase in insurance premiums, and seemingly no increase in launch cadence (not an earlier launch date as a result of this contract modification), so what was the incentive to switch to flight-proven first stage?

Martin Halliwell of SES has been clear that their most recent use of a flight-proven booster was due to launch schedule, not price (see here). As Matt Desch says in today's press release:

Quote
[...] while also making sure we maintain our cadence to complete the five remaining Iridium NEXT launches by the middle of next year.

So must have been a risk of schedule slips if they hadn't taken a flight-proven booster.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2017 01:54 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline swervin

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Maybe Project Zuma has requested a fresh core. Given the tight schedule, SpaceX had to reallocate the Iridium-N4 core but were able to talk Iridium into accepting a reused core.

The 'needs' of the Zuma customer do not make a business case for Iridium, in my opinion. Putting myself in Iridium's shoes: why do this?

Again, I'm all for it, just curious on the business case / motivation to do so.

Online abaddon

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Putting myself in Iridium's shoes: why do this?

Again, I'm all for it, just curious on the business case / motivation to do so.
Iridium is doing this so they can fly sooner than if they waited for new cores.  That saves them money, rather than having birds on the ground longer waiting to go on orbit.  That is the business case and motivation.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2017 02:13 PM by abaddon »

Offline swervin

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So must have been a risk of schedule slips if they hadn't taken a flight-proven booster.

I'm not sure such an assertion can be made. This launch slipped from Oct to Nov, and it would seem the booster/parts and pieces would be well into their testing for a Nov launch date at this point. Now, with the flight-proven booster, the launch is NET 22 Dec, a significant slip from 'late-Nov'. How much more would one expect a new built booster to cause a launch slip further than the NET 22 Dec date? No way to know, just a bunch of spit-balling, so perhaps you're correct!

There was obviously a reason to make this decision and it is likely a combination of factors, just trying to figure it out. :-)

Cheers!

Edit: Fix quotes.
« Last Edit: 10/22/2017 11:20 AM by Lar »

Offline envy887

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Quote
So must have been a risk of schedule slips if they hadn't taken a flight-proven booster.

I'm not sure such an assertion can be made. This launch slipped from Oct to Nov, and it would seem the booster/parts and pieces would be well into their testing for a Nov launch date at this point. Now, with the flight-proven booster, the launch is NET 22 Dec, a significant slip from 'late-Nov'. How much more would one expect a new built booster to cause a launch slip further than the NET 22 Dec date? No way to know, just a bunch of spit-balling, so perhaps you're correct!

There was obviously a reason to make this decision and it is likely a combination of factors, just trying to figure it out. :-)

Cheers!

SpaceX's manufacture rate for boosters is a known limitation on flight rate. Don't forget that Iridium needs 5 more flights, so insisting on a new booster for every flight certainly risks schedule slips down the road.

And SpaceX likely gave them a discount. Pretty sure that's what "has reached agreement" means. Desch has said previously that they wanted a bigger discount that SpaceX was willing to give to fly a used booster. Sounds like they found a middle ground amenable to both parties.

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