Whenever SpaceX launches a rocket, you can bet the prospects are spectacular. After all, SpaceX has its Falcon 9 missiles up and down, providing live views of space as each booster swings into space (and sometimes back).
So it was strange today (March 30), when SpaceX, 9 minutes after the launch of 10 other Iridium Next communication satellites of the Californian Vandenberg Air Force Base, used an otherwise routine Falcon 9 mission. The video blackout was intended for "restrictions" by a US government agency known for its own live Earth views of space.
"Due to some limitations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA for short, SpaceX will intentionally finish its live video coverage of the second phase just before the engine stops," said SpaceX materials engineer Michael Hammersley during a live webcast. Commentary on the Iridium 5 mission. "We are working with NOAA to address these limitations and hopefully get live views from orbit in the future."
These limitations, it seems, are apparently dependent on a recent NOAA claim that the cameras on the second tier of SpaceX Falcon 9 can be considered a "remote sensing" space system, "which would require a license from the US agency if SpaceX wanted to show the live video and still start on time.
SpaceX has webcast live views of n missile cameras on most, if not all, of its Falcon 9 launches and recently surpassed its 50th flight of the workhorse booster. Other US launch providers, such as the United Launch Alliance and Orbital ATK, have also streamed live video from their rockets.
Last month, when SpaceX launched its first Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6, the heavy-lift booster is the second stage beamed home spectacular video from a Tesla Roadster – SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's own car – of three different cameras. Some of these views showed the roadster with a sickle-shaped earth in the background. SpaceX's " Starman" mannequin was in a spacesuit at the wheel.
So, what's the business? Apparently even NOAA tries to find out.
In a Twitter statement, NOAA officials said they looked snafu in today's startup video.
"We are investigating issues at the broadcast interruption of today's SpaceX launch of # Iridium5," NOAA officials wrote . "We will stay in touch when we know more."
Meanwhile, SpaceX does not expect a similar problem at the next launch on Monday (April 2) when it will launch a used Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon cargo ship (also flown before) to deliver NASA cargo to the International Space Station deliver.
Visit Space.com Monday for live coverage of this SpaceX Dragon launch at 4:00 pm EDT (2000 GMT). The start is scheduled for 16.30. EDT (2030 GMT) from a SpaceX mat at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida