SpaceX Launches Satellites from Vandenberg, Misses Fairing Recovery

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday morning.

The primary payload was Hisdesat’s Paz satellite, which will provide radar imaging as well as ship tracking and weather data. The spacecraft was built by Airbus Defence and Space.

Elon Musk’s company also launched two of its own satellites, Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, that will demonstration technologies needed to provide global broadband services. The company plans to orbit 12,000 satellites in two separate constellations for its Starlink broadband service.

Musk tweeted that the fairing missed landing on Mr. Steven, a ship equipped with a giant net.

“Missed by a few hundred meters, but fairing landed intact in water. Should be able catch it with slightly bigger chutes to slow down descent.”

SpaceX’s focus now shifts to Florida for a Falcon 9 launch scheduled for Sunday. The booster will carry the Hispasat 30W-6 satellite, which will provide communications services over Europe, North Africa and the Americas. The launch is scheduled for 12:35 a.m. EST (0535 GMT).

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    So in booster landing equivalent we are around CRS-6 territory, where landing basically works but needs to be fine tuned to actually succeed.

  • jonnymoori

    12000 ?? you have to be kidding me

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Looks like a certified used faring to me. Let the local high school kids wash it down for $100 to the band and it looks like it’ll be good to go.

  • Michael Halpern

    Nope over 7000 will be in very low earth orbit, the first 4000 something will be at 600-800km using phased array to downlink and laser links to talk to each other to get fiber like speeds to everyone

  • jonnymoori

    dreadful news, there will be no room for anything else to launch.

  • Michael Halpern

    Not how it works it would require launching at the wrong nanosecond to get hit even if they didn’t actively avoid it space is big those are the size of bread loaves

  • Michael Halpern

    In addition the orbits are well defined and they will deorbit with 5 years of end of life

  • jonnymoori

    they have launched 2 of 12000 are you kidding me ? even if they launch 12 each time, its a 1000 launches. This is CRAZZYY.

  • Michael Halpern

    Those are demonstrators they will likely launch over a dozen probably 2 dozen or more at a time or rideshare with other payloads
    In addition block 5 should have 10 launches each, they will have 4 active pads and the 7000 are going to likely wait for bfr

  • patb2009

    The orbits are well defined and they are supposed to deorbit in 5 years.

  • Douglas Messier
  • patb2009

    space is big, but Iridium managed a mid-air.

  • Michael Halpern

    They intend on maintaining 30 to 40 launches a year for other customers

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    – Look at the size of them, you can fit more than 12.
    – The constellation should be active well before 12K.
    – SpaceX plans on much bigger rocket

  • Michael Halpern

    Constellation will be active at 800 sats

  • Michael Halpern

    I imagine they will use them to stress test block 5 reuse

  • Roncie Weatherington

    Ok. So did Mr. Steven manage to pluck the fairing out of the water or did everyone just stand around and watch it until it swamped and sank?

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    they are 100cm x 70cm x 70cm – a bit larger than a washing machine – how much do you spend on sandwich fillings in your house?.

  • duheagle

    Who knows what lurks in the heart of the Pacific? The Musk knows… bwaaah haaah haaah haaah!

    Considering what those things are made of, you could chop them into pieces and, unless you literally ground it into powder too, the pieces wouldn’t even sink.

  • duheagle

    More like a major appliance. But your point stands. Space is big.

  • duheagle

    Yep, they got unlucky. And the Chinese deliberately blew up one of their own birds with an ASAT.

    But nearly all the other debris-generating incidents – and there have been quite a few – were the result of unvented propellant and/or undischarged batteries blowing up. Then there are the occasional cases of oddball satellite seppuku like the late Japanese Hitomi X-Ray observatory which spun itself into pieces because of sensor and software issues.

    Collision tends to produce more shreds and to scatter them further, but bad design and poor end-of-life hygiene account for hugely more total incidents. Accidental auto-destruct is likely to generate far more space junk among these mega-constellations than will out-and-out collisions.

    That said, I don’t expect the new sats to be much of a problem in either respect so long as something decisive is done fairly soon by way of cleaning up all the existing space flotsam whizzing around – especially the too-small-to-track stuff. The number of trackable bits is already about an order of magnitude larger than the sum total of all the birds in all the new satellite constellations proposed. The number of sub-trackable bits is almost certainly multiple orders of magnitude higher yet.

    The new sats won’t run into each other, but could still run into legacy debris, especially the unknowably vast number of sub-trackable bits. Get rid of that and space just gets a whole lot safer even with 20,000 new birds lofted over the next decade.

  • windbourne

    That is a small washing machine.
    More like a regular wall oven.

  • Roncie Weatherington

    Yep. I realized that just after posting. Maybe Mr. Steven will just hook up a line and tow it in like a dingy.

  • Merisea

    Mr. Stevens: I got it! I got it! *splash* I don’t got it.

    Better luck next time!

  • duheagle

    That would work. But pulling it aboard would allow Mr. Steven to make more use of its quite impressive top speed to get the thing back to port.

  • SamuelRoman13

    A little late but some thoughts on fairing recovery. Their computer simulation must have been off. Putting control surfaces and flight computer may work. Find the best L/D. Glide to the net ship. Deploy parachutes. It may have a stall speed of 30 MPH so I don’t think it could land directly in the net. This would give a much wider operating range. But they came close, so they probably do not need to do this.

  • jonnymoori
  • jonnymoori

    https://mk0spaceflightnoa02a.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/starlink.jpg

    looks pretty damm big if you ask me, if thats your oven, im coming for dinner at your house “!

  • jonnymoori
  • Michael Halpern

    Bigger than I thought they were but still pretty small construction looks relatively simple

  • jonnymoori

    an oil drum with wings

  • Michael Halpern

    those “wings” are 2 separate sats the “drum” is payload adapter

  • jonnymoori

    now that makes more sense.

  • jonnymoori

    u sure + abt that ? looks like the adapter is going with the payload.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DWpsS–VMAA55XU.jpg

  • Michael Halpern

    Ok you are right still fairly simple for mass production

  • jonnymoori

    i dont think anyone is doubting that, the issue is 12000 of these floating above the earth, im sure how many LEO objects there are, but I would guess this is substantially more than has ever been before. Think of the collision possibilities.

  • Michael Halpern

    Space is big these particular ones are prototypes for around 4000 in a tightly defined orbital region and they have collision avoidance capabilities the other 7000 some odd will likely be even smaller in vleo where they will likely deorbit with 5 years or so of running out of fuel with no additional intervention.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    To the layperson, it looks a gentle water landing is sufficient for payload recovery. What’s the utility of Mr. Steven’s catcher’s mitt and the added complexity of landing it in the net?

  • publiusr

    A three hour tour….