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Home / Science / SpaceX launches a swarm of satellites for the third time and flies again for rocket flight – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches a swarm of satellites for the third time and flies again for rocket flight – Spaceflight Now

A Falcon 9 rocket will take off on Monday at 10:34 am PST (1:34 pm EST, 1834 GMT) from the Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Credit: SpaceX

With new record-breaking commercial and satellite industry records, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from a first-stage booster and recovered twice before clearing on Monday with 64 small satellites Morning Sky climbed above California's central coast, returning to a spot that landed on a ship parked off the coast off the Pacific Coast, and could possibly be flown again.

The first leg of the Falcon 9 rocket, launched on Monday, was the first commercial booster to make three satellite-orbital flights and squeezed SpaceX. It has come closer to its goal, booster 10 times without maintenance or renewal between missions to fly. SpaceX billionaire founder and founder Elon Musk believes that this goal is central to the company's mission to reduce the cost of space transportation, exploration – and eventually settlement – on Mars.

SpaceX has launched a new project before Monday's launch 17 Falcon 9 boosters have been deployed 17 times, including two modified first stages used during the company's Falcon Heavy rocket launch flight in February. However, none of the boosters had started more than twice before the renewed flight of Monday's first leg, which debuted on May 11 with a launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic and then lifted off in August. 7 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and resumed the drone ship.

SpaceX transported the missile on the road from Florida to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California to launch the final launch preparations for the third time. [19659003] The 70-meter, two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, whose booster stage was covered with soot and burn marks from two fiery voyages to the edge of space, lit their nine Merlin main engines and took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 10:34:05 pm PST (13:34:05 EST; 1834: 05 GMT) Monday.

The pitcher headed south, driving 1.7 million pounds of thrust into a cloudless late autumn sky at the military spaceport about 225 kilometers northwest of Lo s Angeles.

The first stage deployed its engines less than two and a half minutes into the mission after accelerating the rocket to speeds in excess of 3,600 miles per hour (about 5,900 kilometers per hour), and pneumatic pushers segregated the booster the second level of Falcon 9 SpaceX rebuilds for each mission.

While the upper-stage Merlin engine was detonated for about seven and a half minutes to put mission payloads into orbit, this was the first stage to fire off part of their engines for boost back and entry burns. to position the descending rocket of the SpaceX drone ship "Just Read the Instructions", which was positioned about 50 kilometers off the coast of Vandenberg in the Pacific Ocean.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket goes back to Earth as its engines burn for the ignition before landing on the SpaceX drone ship in the Pacific Ocean on Monday. Credit: SpaceX

Far-reaching tracking cameras in Vandenberg took spectacular views of the rocket returning to Earth, then fired their mid-engine and extended four lagoons before landing a landing on the drone ship's coast, thanks to an unusually clear morning the military base.

SpaceX's rocket landing drones are typically parked hundreds of miles off the coast, but the company's California-based rocket launch ship was much closer to shore on Monday.

In the meantime, Falcon 9's second stage shot up to T + plus 10 minutes to reach a targeted orbit 575 kilometers above the Earth, on a north-south path, around 97, 8 degrees to the equator inclined, flew.

During the second phase of combustion, the Falcon 9 launched its shell-like nose shroud covering the mission's 64 small payloads in the first minutes of the flight. After disengaging from the rocket, the two halves of Parafoil's disguise unfolded to slow their fall to the ground, where a SpaceX-leased speedboat "Mr. Steven tried to catch the soft top with a huge net. Monday's constitutional scouting attempt was SpaceX's first for more than four months, but Steven missed the fairing halves, though a larger network had been installed earlier this year and several obvious practice runs in recent weeks in which test hardware dropped from a helicopter has been.

Musk tweeted after the start of Monday that the fairing halves were taken out of the sea, dried and reused.

But it is not clear how easy it will be to rehabilitate the panels after putting them in salt water. The method of catching the panels with a net should keep the sheaths away from the corrosive effects of seawater, a problem that prolongs the time SpaceX takes to reprocess the Dragon cargo capsules after spraying in the sea.

Earlier this year, Musk said the disguise cost around $ 6 million, or about 10 percent of the total cost of a Falcon 9 launch. About 60 percent of the marginal cost of a Falcon 9 launch comes from the first stage, 20 percent from the second stage and about 10 percent from the processing, testing and mounting a rocket for the flight, said Musk.

SpaceX customers looking to place their satellites on a reused rocket, or, as SpaceX likes to say, a flight-proven booster, offer rebates on the $ 62 million retail price announced by Falcon 9. Musk said in May that SpaceX then charged about $ 50 million for flights in a previously flown first stage. He expects a "steady price cut" as the company gains rocket reuse experience and pays SpaceX, which Musk said was a billion-dollar investment in the ability to regain and fly boosters.

Mr. Steven, the rejuvenation ship from SpaceX. Credit: SpaceX

In May, Musk said the launch of Falcon 9 could cost only five or six million dollars per flight within three years, assuming SpaceX can provide first-stage boosters, payloads, and second-tier boosters Reuse Falcon 9 quickly. But after upgrades were considered to improve the second stage of Falcon 9 for re-entry, it travels faster than the first stage and would have to withstand higher entry temperatures – Musk tweeted on November 16: "SpaceX no longer plans to upgrade Falcon 9 second Reusability level. "

After a few first crash landings, SpaceX continues to score results in the first stages of Falcon 9. More than half of SpaceX's 19 launches this year were flown with reused boosters.

The new Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in May, includes changes to make it easier to regain and reuse the first tier. "However, flying the boosters is still a learning process for SpaceX," said Hans Koenigsmann, Vice President of SpaceX for Construction and Flight Safety.

"One of the problems is fatigue," he said on October 3 at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany. "You have to watch the lifecycle of components. Basically, they vibrate and you need to keep an eye on the fracture control and make sure there are no fractures on those components. This is not really new. Helicopters do that now. They are basically vibratory machines, and they actually track the number of cycles and know exactly when to go into maintenance or preventive maintenance.

"Something similar we can do here on the rocket," continued Koenigsmann. "Basically, we can capture the flight load and then add it to the history of the part and find out when it needs to be replaced, if it needs to be replaced. Ideally, you do not want to change parts.

Asked how well the Block 5 boosters last every launch, Koenigsmann said, "I'm actually surprised. Of course, when the engines are introduced, the engines are getting pretty hot exhaust, so it should be good to get the engines into the (reentry) flow. I'm surprised how well the engines last. There are details. We get damage and made adjustments, I would say. That's one reason why we have these blocks. Basically, we roll in changes to improve the vehicle. I'm actually pretty happy at this point.

For missions launching satellites toward geostationary orbit, a ridge above 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) above the Earth, the first stage can reach speeds in excess of 5,000 miles per hour. hotter reentry conditions on the way back to earth. For payloads that are designed for low Earth orbit a few hundred miles higher, the first stage does not have to travel that fast.

Hans Königsmann, Vice President of SpaceX for Construction and Flight Safety. Credit: NASA / Kim Shiflett

"There are some of the hotter reentries, it's still something we work on to perfect them and to make sure," Koenigsmann said. "In the end, the goal is to take the rocket, move it over and start again. Our goal is basically to start within two days and that would be huge if we did that.

Speaking to Kennedy Space Center reporters, Koenigsmann said he hopes SpaceX will be able to fly the same rocket twice in 24 hours next year, a goal Musk had set earlier this year.

"It depends a bit on how the missions work," Königsmann said Monday. "I hope we can do this next year … but it could slip a bit. It's certainly something we want to try as soon as we have the chance. Basically, it depends on which missions are ready. "

" The majority of the work is the engine, "he said in October. "We overtake the engine. Most of them are parts that are not suitable for the next flight, so we just swap the parts. It is not actual damage. This is a preventative maintenance that we know may be canceled next time. So we do not take the risk and replace it. We have some impact damage from things flying out of the heat shield and hitting the air cover. That's pretty much what it is. It's not that bad. "

" The Aero cover is what's basically the racetrack on the side, "he said. "We look in the tanks to make sure there are no surprises in the tank. So far, we have only found clean tanks inside. Sometimes we see damage from the thermal protection system acting on the aero covers, reinforcing them to make sure nothing gets broken during the landings. "

" As for refurbishing and building a new rocket, refurbishment is much cheaper, "said Koenigsmann.

" This did not happen overnight, "Koenigsmann said of reusability." We have many, many years worked on it, and we invested a lot of money there, and it was our own money that we used there. "

SpaceX had some financial support, not only from Musk's fortune, but also from venture capital investments and a cash infusion of Google's revenues, which generated revenue, also attracted commercial customers, NASA and the US Air Force, which have signed billion-dollar contracts with SpaceX, with much of this revenue being invested in research and development.

The next launch of SpaceX is scheduled for Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, where a Falcon 9 rocket with a kite cargo ship in the direction of In international space station should take off. The launch of the Resupply will be SpaceX's 20th mission of the year.

SpaceX, spaceflight partner stationing 64 satellites in orbit

An orbital ballet of the species once took over the Falcon The 10-minute flight sequence of 9 rocket ended on Monday launching 64 small satellites, most of which were carried in two free-flying service buses designed and equipped by Spaceflight, a Seattle-based company specializing in booking launches for small satellite operators.

Spaceflight has booked satellite launch on Antares, Dnepr, PSLV, Soyuz and Vega missions, but the company had never purchased the full capacity of a rocket until it announced plans for the mission known as the "dedicated Carpool." gave SSO-A: SmallSat Express, 2015.

Most of the satellites of the SSO-A mission, which included 15 microsatellites and 49 CubeSats, were installed on two free-fliers at Spaceflight facility in Auburn, Washington, officials said.

The deployment structure developed by Spaceflight consists of two hubs – one upper and one lower free aircraft – which carry satellites and CubeSat dispensers. Both free aircraft parted from the Falcon 9 rocket as it entered a polar, sun-synchronous orbit.

Artistic representation of one of the free leaflets of the SSO-A mission, which separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9, the four microsatellites carried its own multi-payload carrier. Credit: Spaceflight

Spaceflight President Curt Blake said the leaflets were based on Spaceflight's Sherpa spacecraft, which the company wanted to launch for the first time on a Falcon 9 flight with the Taiwan Earth Observation Satellite Formosat 5. Delays in the launch of Formosat 5, in part due to a Falcon 9 rocket explosion on a launch pad in 2016, prompted Spaceflight to abandon the mission and find alternate takeoff opportunities for the Smallsats reserved for the Sherpa flight.

The Formosat 5 mission finally launched in August 2017.

"Generally we call it Sherpa," Blake said earlier this year in an interview with Spaceflight Now of the SSO-A mission. "But actually it's more than a hub. There is an upper and a lower flyer. On each of them is a lot of spacecraft. It's a kind of combination stack. "

Some of the larger passengers of the SSO-A mission were taken directly to the launch site of Falcon 9 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where they were taken by technicians to the free-flyers. In addition to the 60 payloads on the free-flyers, four microsatellites were attached directly to the second stage of the Falcon 9, which ordered their separation upon arrival in orbit.

The entire payload stack of the Falcon 9 rocket weighed about 4 tons – almost 9,000 pounds – at the time of takeoff. About minutes after taking off in orbit, the Sherpa modules or free-flying aircraft broke away from the rocket and began separating the smalsats.

Both the free-flying aircraft and the four microsatellites mounted on the second stage of the Falcon 9 were in orbit plus 43-minute points in the mission, but the Spaceflight deployment module continued on its own, using on-board batteries power the avionics and trigger commands to release the 60s spacecraft.

The exact order of the satellite separation maneuvers was considered proprietary by Spaceflight, but the mission managers said that each mission was scheduled approximately every five to six minutes, and the final payload for the separation was set to about 4 hours, 45 minutes after launch was – about 15:19 pm PST (18:19 EST, 2319 GMT).

It was then expected that Spaceflight would need an extra hour to confirm that all satellites had separated as soon as the free flyers passed through a ground station to allow communication. According to Spaceflight, there were no on-board cameras on both free-flyers.

"We have developed a deployment sequence based on a high-fidelity analysis that we conducted specifically to ensure that our customers do not collide with each other in deployment, so we take our time," said Jeff Roberts Spaceflight, SSO-A mission manager, in an interview with Spaceflight Now. "We make sure that we introduce this phase to maximize the distance between all our customers."

This should help the US military tracking objects in orbit to more quickly identify the satellites released on the SSO-A mission. a problem that has caused headaches in the past.

The free aircraft were designed as independent space probes with their own computers, electronics and batteries.

"We call them free planes because they are exactly that. There is no propulsion system on board. They only have all the avionics and dispensers ready to command the mission, "said Roberts.

The top free flyer is based on a commonly used secondary payload adapter, referred to by Moog as the ESPA ring According to Roberts, the design developed by Spaceflight.

The free flyer modules, which had a battery life of 16 hours, unfurl the trailing sails after the satellite deployments to bring the dispensers back into the Earth's atmosphere. [19659003] Spaceflight is not public issued a statement for all 64 payloads on board the SSO A Rideshare mission, citing confidentiality agreements signed with the company's customers, but said Roberts had provided a list to the Federal Communications Commission to Receive mission licenses, and Spaceflight submitted the separation sequence, Information about the size of the spacecraft and the contact points for each payload to the US Military Combined Space Operations Center

Roberts said some concerns about the mission were unfounded, such as the concern that it was difficult on the SSO A mission to pursue Smallsats to ensure that they do not donate space debris. "Our engineering team has gone to great lengths in every way," he said.

Some customers stated that their payloads were at launch of the SSO-A.

This Lower Manhattan, New York, oblique view The city was conquered by one of Planet's SkySat satellites. Picture credits: Planet

Planet was one of mission's most important commercial customers. Two of its SkySat microsatellites and three Dove CubeSats, pioneering new camera and telescope designs, joined in orbit their large fleet of earthquake vehicles, which now includes 137 active satellites. Planet also supported the launch of two CubeSats from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics.

Three US military-funded missions were among the largest spacecraft on the SSO-A mission. These are STPSat 5, a microsatellite from the Luftwaffe Space Test Program, which is carrying out five experiments, the eXCITe spacecraft, which is funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and those built by students of the Air Force Academy Satellite FalconSat 6.

There was also a DLR microsatellite, the German Aerospace Center, named Eu: CROPIS, which carries tomato seeds to monitor how they germinate and grow with reduced gravity. The spaceship will spin slowly during its mission simulating the gravity conditions on the Moon and Mars.

In a press release on Monday evening, Spaceflight announced that all 64 microsatellites and CubeSats had successfully separated in orbit. Many of the satellite owners announced that they had received signals or beacons from their spacecraft, and confirmed their status after orbit with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"This was an incredibly complex mission that I am very proud of. What our talented team at Spaceflight has achieved," Blake said in a statement after the launch. "SSO-A is an important milestone for space and industry. We have always tried to make the space more accessible by carpooling. This mission enabled 34 organizations from 17 different countries to place spacecraft in orbit. It's also special because it was all about Smalsats. "

The mission set a record for the highest number of satellites that could ever be launched on a US rocket, but they missed the worldwide mark of 104 satellites that flew on a rocket single Indian rocket last year.

Two additional officers involved in the SSO-A mission – SeaHawk 1 and Capella 1 – offered their thoughts after the successful launch.

"We are excited to have SeaHawk-1 in orbit and to be part of such a historic launch excellently executed by Spaceflight," said John Morrison, SeaHawk co-project manager and lead investigator at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. "SeaHawk will conduct ocean observations with significantly higher spatial resolution and at much lower cost than traditional satellite systems. As the data collected will be publicly available, we hope that not only researchers, but also policymakers and others will benefit from making informed decisions when environmental issues are addressed. "

" This launch was an impressive and important undertaking, a milestone for the small industry and many of the organizations involved, "said Payam Banazadeh, founder and CEO of Capella Space Corporation. "Capella's first satellite is now in orbit, and we've come one step closer to our goal of providing timely, reliable and frequent information using synthetic aperture radar technology."

British Smalsat maker SSTL confirmed the 231 pound weight (105 kilograms)) KazSTSAT Earth Imaging satellite contacted ground controllers to confirm its health status. KazSTSAT was one of the largest payloads launched today and is owned by Ghalam LLC, a joint venture between JSC "National Company Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary" (KGS) and Airbus Defense and Space.

The second radar image satellite ICEYE X2 Launched by the Finnish company ICEYE, the spacecraft also radiated telemetry after being deployed on Monday. According to ICEYE, eight more spacecraft are expected to launch by the end of 2019, as the company plans to expand the world's largest constellation of synthetic aperture radar satellites. Earlier this year, the company was the first company to put a satellite weighing less than 100 kilograms (about 220 pounds) into orbit with a radar imager, a kind of all-weather Earth observation instrument previously used to be heavier, stronger, and hungrier more expensive spacecraft.

Concept of the artist of the radar satellite ICEYE X2. Credit: ICEYE

One of the CubeSats on the introduction of Falcon 9 – Elysium Star 2 – carries human remains, and another was designed as an art project and sponsored by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in honor of Robert Lawrence, an African American Astronaut was selected for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program of the US Air Force. A bust of Lawrence, who died in 1967 before he flew into space, is on the Enoch CubeSat.

"To honor the astronaut's heritage, (Tavares) Strachan has created a 24-carat gold canopic glass with a bust of Lawrence." The Los Angeles County Museum of Art wrote on a page remote from the mission. The canopic glass refers to a practice used by the ancient Egyptians to protect and preserve the deceased's organs for use in the hereafter. The canopic glass was blessed in a Shinto shrine in Fukuoka, Japan, and was recognized as a container for Lawrances soul. "

Space considers future rides after the complex enterprise of SSO-A

Blake said to Spaceflight Now it turned out that the SSO-A mission is a complex undertaking was.

"To fill or pay for rockets the size of Falcon 9, you have to sum up a lot of them small spaceship," he said. "Just understanding what a timescale requires and how many satellites you need to summarize to reach that one point in time – that's a lesson – just understanding where it is and how difficult it is."

"The second it's about time you prepare for it, different customers have different potential problems, "he added." Some float through as easily as possible, while others may have difficulties along the way, as we have had to move various customers around the pile. This means that you really need to be able to configure and reconfigure the stack (and) the electronics involved in the implementations. "

Seven CubeSats broke the SSO-A mission since August because they were not ready to launch or had difficulty obtaining regulatory approval.

The record number of satellites launched with a single rocket is 104 , which was set last year by an Indian PSLV mission. Some of these payloads were Spaceflight customers, but not all. The SSO-A mission will set a record for most satellites aboard a US carrier.

Blake said Spaceflight has no immediate plans to buy another Falcon 9 launch. The frugal and logistic sweetspot for Rideshares could be a smaller rocket, he said.

"We want to make sure how it works, and learn all lessons from it before we focus our attention on it another so big," Blake said. "However, we are actively looking at various models of medium-sized launchers.

The company has agreements on future smallsat rideshare launches on the Arianespace Vega rocket, Rocket Lab's Electron, and Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne vehicle. This is significantly smaller and cheaper than a Falcon 9, which currently sells between $ 50 and $ 60 million per flight.

"We know how to collect a range of payloads on small launcher rockets," Blake said Think of them as dedicated missions where we have five or ten different spacecraft on a smaller carrier vehicle, 30 or 40 on a medium-sized carrier vehicle, so we need to take the time to find out what it looks like on a large carrier vehicle like this one. "

Here is a list of most payloads of the SSO-A mission, based on the best available opener information. 19659090] Audacy Zero – Audacy – United States

  • BlackHawk – ViaSat – United States
  • BRIO – SpaceQuest – United States
  • TheA – SpaceQuest – United States
  • Capella 1 – Capella Space – United States
  • Landmapper BC-4 – Astro Digital – USA
  • CSIM-FD – LASP / University of Colorado – USA
  • Flock 3s Doves (3 Spacecraft) – Planet – USA
  • SkySat 14, 15 (2 Spacecraft) – Planet – USA [19659087] Elysium Star 2 – Elysium Space – United States
  • Enoch – Los Angeles County Museum of Art – USA
  • eXCITe / SeeMe – Novawurks & DARPA – United States
  • FalconSat 6 – United States Air Force Academy – United States
  • Fox 1C – AMSAT – USA
  • BlackSky Global 2 – BlackSky Global – United States
  • Hawk A, B, C (3 Spacecraft) – HawkEye 360 ​​USA
  • ICE Cap – US Navy – US
  • IRVINE02 – Irvine CubeSat STEM Program – United States
  • MinXSS 2 – LASP / University of Colorado – United States
  • ORS 7A, 7B Polar Scouts – Operationally Responsive Space, Department of Defense, Ab Homeland Security Division – USA
  • Orbital Reflector – OR Productions and Nevada Museum of Art – USA
  • RANGE A, B (2 Spacecraft) – Georgia Tech – USA
  • SeaHawk 1 – University of North Carolina at Wilmington – USA [19659087] SpaceBEE 5, 6, 7 (3 space probes) – Swarm Technologies – USA
  • STPSat 5 – US Air Force Space Test Program – USA
  • WeissSat 1 – Weiss School – USA [19659091] Centauri II – Fleet Space Technologies – Australia
  • RAAF M1 – University of New South Wales – Australia
  • SIRION Pathfinder 2 – Sirion Global – Australia
  • ITASAT – Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica – Brazil
  • ICEYE X2 – ICEYE – Finland
  • Suomi 1 00 – Aalto University Science and Technology – Finland
  • Eu: CROPIS – DLR, German Aerospace Center – Germany
  • MOVE-II – Munich Technical University – Germany
  • ExseedSat-1 – Exseed Space – India
  • Eaglet -1 – O HB Italia SpA / Italian Ministry of Defense – Italy
  • ESEO – ESA & SITAEL – Italy
  • JY1-Sat – Crown Prince Foundation – Jordan
  • KazSciSat-1 – Ghalam LLP – Kazakhstan
  • KazSTSAT – Ghalam LLP – Kazakhstan [19659087] Hiber 2 – Hiber / Innovative Solutions in Space – Netherlands
  • PW-Sat 2 – Warsaw University of Technology – Poland
  • K2SAT – Korean Air Force Academy – South Korea
  • NEXTSat-1 – Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology – South Korea
  • SNUGLITE – Seoul International University – South Korea
  • SNUSAT-2 – Seoul International University – South Korea
  • VisionCube – Korea Aerospace University – South Korea [1965] 9091] AISTECHSAT 2 – Aistech – Spain
  • Astrocast 0.1 – Astrocast – Switzerland
  • KNACKSAT – Technical University of King Mongkut in the north of Bangkok – Thailand
  • VESTA – Honeywell Aerospace / SSTL / exactEarth Ltd. – UK / Canada [19659141] E-mail the Author

    Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .

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