Spaceline News Archives
Falcon Heavy Rocket On Launch Pad 39A, Photo Courtesy SpaceX
Falcon Heavy Raised Vertically On Launch Pad 39A
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket was raised vertically on Launch Pad 39A today. This marks the first time a Falcon Heavy has been erected at the launch pad. The rocket is expected to be lowered to a horizontal position and returned to its assembly hangar tomorrow. Still no word on when the rocket will again be raised vertically at the launch pad for a planned test firing of its 27 first stage booster engines, capable of producing over 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. The Falcon Heavy will be making its maiden launch, still scheduled for some time in January, 2018. Set to perform a demonstration flight, the rocket will carry a Tesla Roadster automobile on a deep space trajectory.
Tesla Roadster Falcon Heavy Payload, Photo Courtesy SpaceX
SpaceX Releases Photos Of Falcon Heavy Payload
SpaceX has released photos of the payload set to fly aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket on its maiden flight scheduled for January, 2018. The payload is indeed a red Tesla Roadster automobile that will be sent on a solar orbit at approximate Mars distance. SpaceX and Tesla head Elon Musk has said that he hopes the automobile will remain in orbit for "billions" of years. The photos depict the automobile perched inside the cavernous Falcon Heavy composite payload fairing. Officially, the Falcon Heavy rocket will be performing a demonstration flight. Musk has maintained that there is a high probability that the mission will not be successful.
Tesla Roadster Falcon Heavy Payload, Photo Courtesy SpaceX
Falcon Heavy Triple Core Booster Engines, Photo Courtesy SpaceX
SpaceX Unveils Falcon Heavy Rocket
SpaceX today released photos of a Falcon Heavy rocket targeted for its maiden launch in January, 2018. The photos were taken inside a horizontal assembly hangar adjacent to Launch Pad 39A, from which the launch is scheduled to occur. The Falcon Heavy is comprised of three Falcon 9 first stage booster cores strapped together, with a total of 27 engines fired at liftoff. The rocket can produce 5.13 million pounds of thrust at launch, making it the world's most powerful launch vehicle. Historically, the Falcon Heavy is second only to the mighty Saturn V in liftoff thrust. The Saturn V produced 7.5 million pounds of thrust at launch.
Falcon Heavy Rocket, Photo Courtesy SpaceX
The Falcon Heavy rocket stands 229.6 feet tall with a total width of 39.9 feet. Fully fueled, the rocket has a total mass of 3.125 million pounds at launch. The rocket can carry a composite fairing or a Dragon capsule, depending on mission requirements. Like the Falcon 9 rocket, the Falcon Heavy first stage and second stage burn a combination of liquid oxygen and RP-1 (kerosene) fuel. All three first stage core booster segments are recoverable. The outside two core boosters will both land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Landing Zone 1, while the central core booster will be recovered on a barge at sea.
With the capability of carrying a maximum 140,600 pounds of payload to Low Earth Orbit, the Falcon Heavy performance is far and above that of comparable launch vehicles. Payload capability to Low Earth Orbit of the Falcon Heavy is roughly three times greater than the Space Shuttle and Delta IV Heavy, and roughly four times greater than the Atlas V. The Falcon Heavy can also carry a maximum 58,860-pound payload to Geostationary Transfer Orbit, a maximum 37,040-pound payload to Mars or a maximum 7,720-pound payload to Pluto. The first Falcon Heavy launch will be a demonstration flight, but SpaceX has said that the rocket will carry a Tesla automobile which will be sent on a deep space trajectory.
Santa Claus In Space, File Photo Courtesy NASA
Merry Christmas As Spaceline Remembers Apollo 8
Christmas had been celebrated in space for many years now. Apollo 8, Skylab 4, STS-103 and crews aboard the International Space Station have all celebrated Christmas in space. Santa Claus actually visited Space Shuttle Discovery during STS-103, a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, on Christmas Eve, 1999. Mission controllers in Houston were stunned as Santa visited Discovery in the dead of night, delivering presents for the seven-member crew.
Expedition 42 Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti Aboard ISS, File Photo Courtesy NASA
But for those of us who have been around for a while, the most memorable Christmas mission remains Apollo 8, mankind's first journey to the Moon and back. While Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders orbited the Moon on Christmas Eve, 1968, they took time to read from the Bible's Book of Genesis Chapter 1, verses 1 through 10, King James version. The reading was included as part of a televised broadcast, which at the time was the most watched broadcast in television history.
Astronaut William Anders Aboard Apollo 8, File Photo Courtesy NASA
Astronaut William Anders began:
We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
Astronaut James Lovell Aboard Apollo 8, File Photo Courtesy NASA
Astronaut James Lovell continued:
And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Astronaut Frank Borman Aboard Apollo 8, File Photo Courtesy NASA
Astronaut Frank Borman concluded:
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He seas; And God saw that it was good. And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.
The "Good Earth" Photographed During Apollo 8, File Photo Courtesy NASA
It was one of those really significant and memorable broadcasts in the history of the U.S. space program, not that secular concerns were ignored. On Christmas Day, 1968, the Apollo 8 crew performed a Trans-Earth Injection burn, which was conducted from the dark side of the Moon, out of reach of communication with Earth. Once voice contact was restored, astronaut James Lovell exclaimed, Please be informed, there IS a Santa Claus! Ken Mattingly, the Mission Control Capsule Communicator at the time, replied, That’s affirmative, you are the best ones to know!
We hope this humble article brings back Christmas memories, or creates new ones. Merry Christmas from all of us here at Spaceline!
SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches With CRS-13 Payload, Photo Courtesy NASA
Falcon 9 Successfully Launches CRS-13 For NASA
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the CRS-13 payload was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Pad 40 at 10:36 a.m. EST today. Launch Pad 40 is now officially back in service following a Falcon 9 explosion on the pad in September 2016. This gives SpaceX added flexibility with two active Cape launch pads, Launch Pad 40 and Launch Pad 39A, which is currently undergoing renovation for the mammoth Falcon Heavy rocket, targeted for its maiden launch in early 2018.
The CRS-13 payload consists of a Dragon capsule bound for the International Space Station (ISS). The Dragon capsule will be docked to ISS on Sunday, December 17. Today's Falcon 9 launch featured two pieces of flight proven hardware. The Falcon 9 first stage booster was previously flown on CRS-11 launched in June 2017 while the Dragon capsule was previously flown on CRS-6 in April, 2015. The Falcon 9 first stage booster launched today completed a successful landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Landing Zone 1, formerly Launch Complex 13. Launch was conducted under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule carries about 4,800 pounds of International Space Station supplies and equipment, divided into pressurized and unpressurized payloads. Pressurized payloads include about 1,000 pounds of crew supplies, 1,500 pounds of science investigations, 350 pounds of spacewalk equipment, 400 pounds of vehicle hardware and 10 pounds of computer resources. A total of about 1,400 pounds of equipment and supplies are unpressurized. Scientific investigations carried include:
Plant Gravity Perception (PGP), which is designed to study how plants sense and respond to gravity; Biorasis Glucose Biosensor (BGB), which seeks to improve the accuracy of a wireless medically implantable continuous glucose biosensor for day-to-day diabetes management; Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS), which measures total solar irradiance and solar spectral irradiance to help determine Earth's total energy input from the Sun; Space Debris Sensor (SDS) which is a calibrated impact sensor designed to directly measure the International Space Station orbital debris environment for a period of two to three years.
Falcon 9 First Stage Booster Approaches Landing Zone 1, Photo Courtesy NASA
Falcon 9 Rocket In Flight, File Photo Courtesy SpaceX
CRS-13 Launch Delayed Again
Launch of the CRS-13 payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has been postponed again. Launch is now targeted for Friday, December 15, 2017 at 10:35 a.m. EST. SpaceX reported that the delay will allow additional time for the launch team to conduct full inspections and cleanings due to detection of particles in the Falcon 9 second stage fuel system. The company said that if the launch does not occur on Friday, it will be postponed to no earlier than late December. The CRS-13 payload consists of a SpaceX Dragon capsule filled with about 4,800 pounds of supplies and equipment for the International Space Station. Launch will occur from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Pad 40, which will host its first launch since a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the pad in September 2016. The launch is being conducted under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Falcon 9 Launch, File Photo Courtesy SpaceX
CRS-13 Launch Delayed
Launch of the CRS-13 payload aboard a Falcon 9 rocket scheduled for December 12, 2017 has been postponed. The launch is now scheduled for Wednesday, December 13 at 11:24 a.m. EST. SpaceX reported that the delay will allow additional time for pre-launch ground system checks. The CRS-13 payload consists of a SpaceX Dragon capsule filled with about 4,800 pounds of supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station. Launch will occur from Launch Pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is hosting its first launch since a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the pad in September 2016. The launch is being conducted under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract. For the latest updates, click "Launch Schedule" above. It is typically updated before stories are posted here.
Falcon 9 Booster Landing, File Photo Courtesy SpaceX
CRS-13 And Other Launch Updates
The CRS-13 launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has been postponed again, this time to Tuesday, December 12 at 11:46 a.m. EST. CRS-13 consists of a SpaceX Dragon capsule which carries supplies and equipment for the International Space Station (ISS). CRS-13 will dock with ISS two days after launch and the mission is being conducted as part of the NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract. Launch will be from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Pad 40, which will return to service after refurbishment resulting from a Falcon 9 launch pad explosion at the site in September 2016.
In other launch news, the mysterious ZUMA payload previously scheduled for launch from Launch Pad 39A atop a Falcon 9 rocket on November 15, 2017 has been rescheduled for a target date of January 4, 2018. The launch was postponed while SpaceX investigated potential payload fairing problems discovered during preparation for another mission. As surmised in a previous Spaceline News article, the launch of ZUMA, an undisclosed government payload, has been relocated to Launch Pad 40 but will likely occur before the launch of a Falcon Heavy rocket which is targeted for January, 2018 from a renovated Launch Pad 39A. Launch of an Atlas V rocket carrying the Air Force SBIRS GEO-4 payload from Launch Pad 41 remains scheduled for January 18, 2018 while the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 40 carrying the commercial SES-16/GOVSAT-1 payload is targeted for January 30, 2018.
For the latest updates on launch activity at Cape Canaveral, click "Launch Schedule".
CRS-13 Payload Processing, Photo Courtesy NASA
CRS-13 Launch Update
Launch of the CRS-13 payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket previously scheduled for December 4, 2017 has been postponed to Saturday, December 9, 2017. No reason for the delay has been announced. CRS-13 will dock with the International Space Station with supplies and equipment under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Launch time on December 9 is 12:57 p.m. EST. This will be the first launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Pad 40 since it was destroyed by a Falcon 9 explosion in September 2016.
Falcon Heavy Artist Conception, Photo Courtesy SpaceX
Falcon Heavy Launch Update
The maiden launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket has been postponed to no earlier than January 2018. SpaceX head Elon Musk has said that the rocket will carry his Tesla Roadster automobile on a Mars or deep space trajectory, but that has not been confirmed. Launch of the Falcon Heavy has been delayed from 2015. It will be the most powerful modern unmanned rocket. Launch will be from Launch Pad 39A, which is currently being renovated for the Falcon Heavy. Launch of the mysterious ZUMA payload aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A previously scheduled for November 15, 2017 has been postponed indefinitely as SpaceX investigates potential payload fairing problems. Launch of ZUMA, an undisclosed government payload, will likely not occur until after the Falcon Heavy and may be moved to Launch Pad 40, which is now back in service following a Falcon 9 explosion in September 2016.