SpaceX successfully launches Telstar 18V satellite

Following several delays to ensure the booster was ready for launch SpaceX successfully completed their 16th launch of 2018 with the deployment of the Telstar 18V satellite to its Geostationary Transfer Order.

This was the 2nd launch for Telstar in two months following the successful launch of the Telstar 19V satellite in July.

The first stage successfully landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY)

This was the 61st launch of Falcon 9 and 29th landing.

SpaceX launches Merah Putih satellite

SpaceX continued their 2018 launch campaign with the successful deployment of the Merah Putih communications satellite for Telkom Indonesia this morning.

The 5000 kg satellite was successfully deployed to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit and is now making its way to its operating orbit.

This was the first reflight for a Block 5 Falcon 9 booster which was previously used in May to launch Bangladesh’s Bangabandhu-1 satellite.  Following successful stage separation the booster landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship, Of Course I Still Love You.

This was the 60th flight of Falcon 9, 13th with flight proven booster and the 28th landing.

SpaceX successfully launches another 10 Iridium Next satellites

This morning SpaceX completed their 14th launch of the year and second of the week with the successful deployment of another 10 Iridium Next satellites.  This was the second launch of the morning coming just 14 minutes after the Arianespace launch, however, the mission completed first due to the shorter coast phase before deployment.

Launching from their Vandenberg launch site the Falcon 9 lifted off at 07:39 am EDT. This was the third launch of the upgraded Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9, despite some heavy wind sheer in the Pacific ocean the booster successfully landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Just Read The Instructions.

During this launch, SpaceX also attempted to recover one half of the payload fairing on their ship Mr. Stevens.  Unfortunately, due to the wind sheer in the Pacific, they were not able to recover the fairing this time.

This was the 59th Falcon 9 launch and 27th landing.

SpaceX successfully launches Telstar 19V satellite

Early this morning SpaceX completed their 13th launch of the year with the successful deployment of the Telstar 19V satellite to its Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

This was the 2nd flight of the new Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 and was also the heaviest payload SpaceX has deployed to GTO weighing in at 15,600 lbs.

The first stage successfully landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) making this the 26th time a first stage has landed.

This was the 58th flight for Falcon 9 and 64th in total for SpaceX.

Their next launch is just three days away on the 25th when another Block 5 booster will carry another 10 Iridium Next satellites to orbit from SpaceX’s Vandenberg launch site.

My first live launch – SpaceX CRS-15

Today my family and I were able to see our first live rocket launch with the successful liftoff of the Falcon 9 carrying the Dragon Spacecraft to orbit for SpaceX’s CRS-15 mission to the International Space Station.

Originally the plan was to get up a 2 in the morning and drive from Davenport, FL to Titusville, FL to watch the launch, however, my wife decided that we should stay in Titusville on Thursday night so that we only needed to drive a few minutes to get a location to view the launch.

We decided to watch from nearby the Max Brewer Bridge as there was plenty of available space along the road.  While we waited I attempted to take some pictures of the Vehicle Assembly Building which was directly across the water from where we stood, however the Nikon D50 camera that we currently own wasn’t able to handle it well.  Thankfully once the rocket actually launched I was able to get some pictures on the camera.  Our kids also had their phones and took some amazing pictures which I have included below.

While I have watched most of the launches online over the years to experience it live for the first time was definetly worth the effort of getting to the launch and I would strongly recommend anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to do so.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SpaceX successfully launches SES-12 satellite

Early this morning SpaceX successfully launched the SES-12 satellite, the launch was originally scheduled for May 31st but was delayed to allow SpaceX additional time to check the rocket’s second stage to ensure mission success.

The nine Merlin 1D engines came to life at 12:45 am EDT following a smooth countdown and propelled the payload to orbit, this was the 11th launch of the year for SpaceX. There was no attempt to salvage the first stage which had been flown on a previous mission to boost the Airforces X-37B spaceplane. The payload fairings where set to be picked up from the ocean once they had landed as the catcher boat is still station off the West Coast as they perfect the process of catching them.

To date, SpaceX has launched 55 Falcon 9’s, 13 of them reused.

SpaceX launches Iridium and NASA Satellites

SpaceX continued their 2018 campaign with the successful launch of five more Iridium Next satellites as well as two for NASA.

The NASA satellites consisted of two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACE-FO) satellites which will measure variations in gravity over Earth’s surface.

The two Grace satellites were deployed shortly after the second stage reached orbit, it then coasted for 45 minutes before firing the engine for the second time and then deploying the five Iridium Next satellites.

This was the 10th launch of the year and the 9th for Falcon 9, this was also the 12th time that SpaceX used a previously flown booster.  To date, SpaceX has successfully launched 56 times (2 Falcon 1, 53 Falcon 9 and one Falcon Heavy) and delivered 114 satellites, 15 Dragons, and a Roadster to orbit.

SpaceX successfully launches Bangabandhu Satellite-1

SpaceX continued its 2018 launch campaign with the successful launch of the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 aboard its first Block 5 Falcon 9.

The Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 has been designated as the final version and incorporates a number of changes designed to allow multiple flights to be performed by each booster with minimal to no changes needed. During a conference call today Elon Musk explained that the changes also addressed all of NASA Crew requirements.

The most obvious visual changes are the black interchange at the top of the first stage, the larger landing legs, which are now retractable.  Other changes that have been detailed include upgraded Engines to address a cracking issue in the turbopump blades and also increases the thrust by 8%, new Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel (COPV) tanks.

With this launch, SpaceX returned to fast fueling process with both the RP-1 and LOX loading starting at T-35m.  This was the process was in use when the AMOS-6 incident happened, SpaceX stopped using it after that until now.

After successfully completing its job of boosting the rocket towards orbit the first stage successfully landing on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone  Ship (ASDS) “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean.

This was the 9th launch of 2018 and 54th overall for Falcon 9, and the 5th landing of 2018 and 25th overall.

 

SpaceX Launches TESS

This evening SpaceX successfully launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) telescope this evening.

SpaceX’s eighth launch of the year and 53rd overall for Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Launch Complex (LC)-40 following a smooth countdown.  The TESS telescope was delivered to orbit approximately 48 minutes later to begin on-orbit operations.

The first stage of the rocket successfully landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) “Of Course I Still Love You” marking the fifth landing of the year and 24th overall.

The launch was originally scheduled for Monday 16th but was delayed 48 hours to allow SpaceX more time to perform Guidance Navigation and Control analysis to ensure a successful mission today.

For more information on TESS check out their web page here.

SpaceX launches Dragon on 14th CRS mission

This afternoon SpaceX launched their 14th Dragon mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 40.

Following a smooth countdown, the nine Merlin 1D engines powered the rocket and its payload to orbit.

This was the 7th launch for SpaceX in 2018, the 52nd Falcon 9 launch and 11th using a Flight Proven booster.  As this was an older Block IV booster SpaceX elected to forgo the landing attempt and instead used the booster to perform testing before it crashed into the ocean.

This was also the 2nd mission for this Dragon Capsule which had previously flown on the CRS-8 mission in 2016.  Now that the capsule is in orbit and the Solar Array’s have successfully deployed it will begin its journey to the ISS which capture and berthing expected on Wednesday morning.