SES Boldly Goes Where No Firm Has Gone Before, Inks Deal to Fly on 1st SpaceX ‘Flight-Proven’ Booster

First launch of flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage will use CRS-8 booster that delivered Dragon to the International Space Station in April 2016. Credit: SpaceX
First launch of flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage will use CRS-8 booster that delivered Dragon to the International Space Station in April 2016. Credit: SpaceX

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL — The telecommunications giant SES is boldly going where no company has gone before by making history in inking a deal today, Aug. 30, to fly the expensive SES-10 commercial satellite on the first ever launch of a ‘Flight-Proven’ SpaceX booster – that’s been used and recovered.

Luxembourg-based SES and Hawthrone, CA-based SpaceX today jointly announced the agreement to “launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster” before the end of this year.

“The satellite, which will be in a geostationary orbit and expand SES’s capabilities across Latin America, is scheduled for launch in Q4 2016. SES-10 will be the first-ever satellite to launch on a SpaceX flight-proven rocket booster,” according to a joint statement.

That first launch of a flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage will use the CRS-8 booster that delivered a SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station in April 2016. The reflight could happen as soon as October 2016.

Recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket moved by crane from drone ship to an upright storage cradle on land at Port Canaveral,  Florida on April 12, 2016.  Credit: Julian Leek
Recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA CRS-8 cargo mission is moved by crane from drone ship to an upright storage cradle on land at Port Canaveral, Florida on April 12, 2016. Credit: Julian Leek

The deal marks a major milestone and turning point in SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk’s long sought endeavor to turn the science fictionesque quest of rocket reusability into the scientific fact of reality.

“Thanks for the longstanding faith in SpaceX,” tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after today’s joint SES/SpaceX announcement.

“We very much look forward to doing this milestone flight with you.”

Elon Musk’s goal is to radically slash the cost of launching rockets and access to space via rocket recycling – in a way that will one day lead to his vision of a ‘City on Mars.’

Over just the past 8 months, SpaceX has successfully recovered 6 of the firms Falcon 9 first stage boosters intact – by land and by sea since December 2015 – in hopes of recycling and reusing them with new payloads from paying customers daring enough to take the risk of stepping into the unknown!

SES is that daring company and has repeatedly shown faith in SpaceX. They were the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX with SES-8 back in October 2013. Earlier this year the firm also launched SES-9 on the recently upgraded full thrust version of Falcon 9 in March 2016.

Upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 awaits launch of SES-9 communications satellite on Feb. 25, 2016 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 prior to launch of SES-9 communications satellite on Mar. 4, 2016 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

“Having been the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX back in 2013, we are excited to once again be the first customer to launch on SpaceX’s first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket. We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight, and make access to space more efficient in terms of cost and manifest management,” said Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES, in the statement.

“This new agreement reached with SpaceX once again illustrates the faith we have in their technical and operational expertise. The due diligence the SpaceX team has demonstrated throughout the design and testing of the SES-10 mission launch vehicle gives us full confidence that SpaceX is capable of launching our first SES satellite dedicated to Latin America into space.”

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon cargo spacecraft launches on April 8, 2015 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the CRS-8 mission to the International Space Station.   Credit: Julian Leek
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon cargo spacecraft launches on April 8, 2015 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the CRS-8 mission to the International Space Station. Credit: Julian Leek

But the company first has to prove that the used vehicle can survive the extreme and unforgiving stresses of the violent spaceflight environment before they can relaunch it. So they have been carefully inspecting it for structural integrity, checking all the booster systems, plumbing, avionics, etc and retesting the first stage Merlin 1D engines.

Multiple full duration hot fire tests of the fully integrated booster have been conducted at the SpaceX test facility in McGregor, Texas as part of long life endurance testing. This includes igniting all nine used first stage Merlin 1D engines housed at the base of a landed rocket for approximately three minutes.

For the SES-10 launch, SpaceX plans to use the Falcon 9 booster that landed on an ocean going drone ship from NASA’s CRS-8 space station mission launched in April 2016, said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of Flight Reliability, to reporters recently at the Kennedy Space Center during NASA’s CRS-9 cargo launch to the ISS.

SpaceX has derived many lessons learned on how to maximize the chances for a successful rocket recovery, Koenigsmann explained to Universe Today at KSC when I asked for some insight.

“We learned a lot … from the landings,” Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of Flight Reliability, told Universe Today during the media briefings for the SpaceX CRS-9 space station cargo resupply launch on July 18.

“There are no structural changes first of all.”

“The key thing is to protect the engines- and make sure that they start up well [in space during reentry],” Koenigsmann elaborated, while they are in flight and “during reentry.”

“And in particular the hot trajectory, so to speak, like the ones that comes in after a fast payload, like the geo-transfer payload basically.”

“Those engines need to be protected so that they start up in the proper way. That’s something that we learned.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage is outfitted with four landing legs at the base and four grid fins at the top to conduct the landing attempts.

“In general I think the landing concept with the legs, and the number of burns and the way we perform those seems to work OK,” Koenigsmann told me.

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches and lands over Port Canaveral in this streak shot showing  rockets midnight liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 12:45 a.m. EDT on July 18, 2016 carrying Dragon CRS-9 craft to the International Space Station (ISS) with almost 5,000 pounds of cargo and docking port. View from atop Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 launches and lands over Port Canaveral in this streak shot showing rockets midnight liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 12:45 a.m. EDT on July 18, 2016 carrying Dragon CRS-9 craft to the International Space Station (ISS) with almost 5,000 pounds of cargo and docking port. View from atop Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

“Re-launching a rocket that has already delivered spacecraft to orbit is an important milestone on the path to complete and rapid reusability,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX.

“SES has been a strong supporter of SpaceX’s approach to reusability over the years and we’re delighted that the first launch of a flight-proven rocket will carry SES-10.”

Remote camera photo from "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship of Falcon 9 first stage landing following launch of Dragon cargo ship to ISS on CRS-8 mission on 8 April 2016. Credit: SpaceX
Remote camera photo from “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship of Falcon 9 first stage landing following launch of Dragon cargo ship to ISS on CRS-8 mission on 8 April 2016. Credit: SpaceX

How much money will SES save by using a spent, recycled first stage Falcon 9 booster?

SpaceX says the price of a completely new Falcon 9 booster is approximately $60 million.

Shotwell has said SpaceX will reduce the cost about 30%. So SES might be saving around $20 million – but there are no published numbers regarding this particular launch contract.

Incredible sight of pleasure craft zooming past SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Thaicom-8 launch on May 27, 2016 as it arrives at the mouth of Port Canaveral, FL,  atop droneship platform on June 2, 2016.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Incredible sight of pleasure craft zooming past SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Thaicom-8 launch on May 27, 2016 as it arrives at the mouth of Port Canaveral, FL, atop droneship platform on June 2, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

SES-10 will be the first SES satellite wholly dedicated to Latin America.

“The satellite will provide coverage over Mexico, serve the Spanish speaking South America in one single beam, and cover Brazil with the ability to support off-shore oil and gas exploration,” according to SES.

It will replace capacity currently provided by two other satellites, namely AMC-3 and AMC-4, and will “provide enhanced coverage and significant capacity expansion over Latin America – including Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The high-powered, tailored and flexible beams will provide direct-to-home broadcasting, enterprise and mobility services.”

It is equipped with a Ku-band payload of 55 36MHz transponder equivalents, of which 27 are incremental. It will be stationed at 67 degrees West.

SES-10 was built by Airbus Defence and Space and is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform. Notably it will use “an electric plasma propulsion system for on-orbit manoeuvres and a chemical system for initial orbit raising and some on-orbit manoeuvres.”

SES-10 satellite mission artwork. Credit: SES
SES-10 satellite mission artwork. Credit: SES

The most recent SpaceX Falcon 9 booster to be recovered followed the dramatic overnight launch of the Japanese JCSAT-16 telecom satellite on Aug. 14.

Port Canaveral aerial view showing SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage back on land in storage cradle after arriving back into port and craning off droneship barge it propulsively soft landed on after launching JCSAT-16 Japanese comsat on Aug. 14, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl. NASA’s.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Port Canaveral aerial view showing SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage back on land in storage cradle after arriving back into port and craning off droneship barge it propulsively soft landed on after launching JCSAT-16 Japanese comsat on Aug. 14, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl. NASA’s. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

It was towed back into port on atop the diminutive OCISLY ocean landing platform that measures only about 170 ft × 300 ft (52 m × 91 m). SpaceX formally dubs it an ‘Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship’ or ASDS.

The 6 successful Falcon upright first stage landings are part of a continuing series of SpaceX technological marvels/miracles rocking the space industry to its core.

SpaceX had already successfully recovered first stages three times in a row at sea earlier this year on the ocean going drone ship barge using the company’s OCISLY Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) on April 8, May 6 and May 27, prior to JCSAT-16 on Aug. 14.

Two land landings back at Cape Canaveral Landing Zone-1 were accomplished on Dec. 21, 2015 and July 18, 2016.

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster moving along the Port Canaveral channel atop droneship platform with cruise ship in background nears ground docking facility on June 2, 2016 following Thaicom-8 launch on May 27, 2016.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 booster moving along the Port Canaveral channel atop droneship platform with cruise ship in background nears ground docking facility on June 2, 2016 following Thaicom-8 launch on May 27, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL on March 4, 2016.    Credit:  Julian Leek
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Julian Leek
Ignition and liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 as umbilical’s fly away from rocket carrying SES-9 satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. As seen from remote camera set near rocket on launch pad 40.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Ignition and liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 as umbilical’s fly away from rocket carrying SES-9 satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. As seen from remote camera set near rocket on launch pad 40. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

SpaceX Falcon 9 Dazzles with Dramatic SES-9 Sunset Launch – Photo/Video Gallery

Ignition and liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 as umbilical’s fly away from rocket carrying SES-9 satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. As seen from remote camera set near rocket on launch pad 40.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Ignition and liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 as umbilical’s fly away from rocket carrying SES-9 satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. As seen from remote camera set near rocket on launch pad 40. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – SpaceX’s Falcon 9 finally put on a dazzling sky show after the commercial booster at last took flight on the fifth launch attempt, shortly after sunset on Friday, March 4, 2014.

Launches around sunset are often the most beautiful. And the coincident clear blue and darkening skies did not disappoint, affording photographers the opportunity to capture dramatic photos and videos with brilliant hues as the accelerating rocket sped skywards to sunlight.

The primary mission for the SpaceX Falcon 9 mission was to carry the SES-9 commercial communications satellite payload to orbit providing services used by everyone 24/7, such as cable TV, high speed internet, voice and data transmissions.

SES-9 is the largest satellite dedicated to serving the Asia-Pacific region for the Luxembourg based SES. With its payload of 81 high-powered Ku-band transponder equivalents, SES-9 will be the 7th SES satellite providing unparalleled coverage to over 20 countries in the region, says SES.

Enjoy the gorgeous and expanding collection of launch photos and videos herein from myself, colleagues and friends. The view was so clear that we could see the separation of the first and second stages, and opening and jettisoning of the payload fairing halves.

Strong high altitude winds, difficulties loading the super chilled liquid oxygen propellant and boaters who apparently ignored warnings forced a total of four postponements from the originally intended launch date nearly two weeks earlier on Tuesday Feb. 25, 2016.

But with a forecast of 90 percent GO weather and moderating upper altitude wind, the SpaceX Falcon 9 soared aloft right at the opening of the launch window.

See the ignition and liftoff and initial powerful puff of exhaust up close – from my remote launch pad 40 camera above as pyros fire and the umbilicals separate and fly away from rocket.

Here’s a pair of time lapse streak shots as the rocket arcs over eastwards to Africa:

SpaceX Falcon 9 and SES-9 streak to orbit in this long time exposure image after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016.  Credit: Walter Scriptunis II
SpaceX Falcon 9 and SES-9 streak to orbit in this long time exposure image after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Walter Scriptunis II
SpaceX Falcon 9 and SES-9 streak to orbit in this long time exposure image after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016.  Credit: SpaceX/Ben Cooper
SpaceX Falcon 9 and SES-9 streak to orbit in this long time exposure image after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: SpaceX/Ben Cooper

Check out these pair of launch videos taken by Mobius wide angle remote cameras set up close around the SpaceX pad at Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.

Video caption: Sunset launch of the SES-9 communication satellite by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on March 4, 2016 from Pad 40 of the CCAFS. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

Video caption: Spectacular blastoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying SES-9 communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL shortly after sunset at 6:35 p.m. EST on March 4, 2016. Up close movie captured by Mobius remote video camera placed at launch pad. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

This video is a focused up close view showing the umbilicals flying away moments after blastoff:

Video caption: Time lapse, SpaceX Falcon 9 strong back and upper umbilical motion before and during the launch of the SES9 telecommunication satellite launch on March 4, 2016. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

The SES-9 launch marked the second successful Falcon-9 launch in a row during 2016, and the first of this year from Cape Canaveral.

The Boeing built SES-9 satellite has a dry mass of 2,835 kg and a fueled mass of 5,271 kg. The huge satellite sports a wingspan of 48 meters with two solar wings. In addition each wing is outfitted with six additional solar panels on each wing.

Watch for Ken’s onsite launch reports direct from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL on March 4, 2016.  Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
SpaceX Falcon 9 and SES-9 streak across the sunset sky after blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 and SES-9 streak across the sunset sky after blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 and SES-9 streak across the sunset sky after blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 and SES-9 streak across the sunset sky after blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Julian Leek
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL on March 4, 2016.    SEKORAPHOTO  / J.D. Sekora
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: SEKORAPHOTO / J.D. Sekora
SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets to orbit carrying SES-9 communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets to orbit carrying SES-9 communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
First and second stages separate as SpaceX Falcon 9 accelerates to orbit with SES-9 telecom satellite after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016.    Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
First and second stages separate as SpaceX Falcon 9 accelerates to orbit with SES-9 telecom satellite after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL as seen from Titusville, FL on March 4, 2016.  Credit: Joseph Carrillo
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL as seen from Titusville, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Joseph Carrillo
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL as seen from Titusville, FL on March 4, 2016.  Credit: Dawn McFall
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL as seen from Titusville, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Dawn McFall
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL as seen from Titusville, FL on March 4, 2016.  Credit: Gerald DaBose
SpaceX SES-9 launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL as seen from Titusville, FL on March 4, 2016. Credit: Gerald DaBose

SpaceX Sets Ambitious Falcon 9 ‘Return to Flight’ Agenda with Dual December Blastoffs

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket after successful static hot-fire test on June 13 on Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL.  Launch is slated for Friday, June 20, 2014  on ORBCOMM OG2 mission with six OG2 satellites. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX ‘Return to Flight’ launch upcoming in December 2015 features 11 ORBCOMM satellites. SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL, prior to launch on July 14, 2014 on prior ORBCOMM OG2 mission with six OG2 satellites. The USAF has certified the Falcon 9 to compete for US national security launches. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

SpaceX plans an ambitious ‘Return to Flight’ agenda with their Falcon 9 rocket comprising dual launches this coming December, nearly six months after their failed launch in June 2015 that culminated in the total mid-air loss of the rocket and NASA cargo bound for the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The double barreled salvo of Falcon 9 blastoffs both involve launches of commercial communications satellites – first for Orbcomm followed by SES – and are specifically devised to allow a gradually ramp up in complexity, as SpaceX introduces fixes for the launch failure and multiple improvements to the boosters overall design. Continue reading “SpaceX Sets Ambitious Falcon 9 ‘Return to Flight’ Agenda with Dual December Blastoffs”

SpaceX Starts 2014 With Spectacular Private Rocket Success Delivering Thai Satellite to Orbit – Gallery

SpaceX began 2014 with a spectacular big bang for private space today, Jan. 6, when the firms next generation Falcon 9 rocket blasted off for the first time this year and successfully delivered the Thaicom 6 commercial broadcasting satellite to its target orbit.

The new, next generation Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 5:06 p.m. EST (2206 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida with the Thai payload.

The sunset SpaceX launch from the Florida Space Coast took place precisely on time with ignition of the nine Merlin 1-D first stage engines at Space Launch Complex 40.

TCom6-01

The launch was broadcast live via a SpaceX webcast.

The nine engines on the 224 foot tall Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket generate 1.3 million pounds of thrust, about 50% more than the initial Falcon 9.

The second stage Merlin vacuum engine fired twice as planned.

The first firing began approximately 184 seconds into flight and lasted five minutes and 35 second to deliver Thaicom 6 into its parking orbit.

Clearing the strongback, the Thaicom 6/Falcon 9 mission roars from the pad in its quest for supergeosync orbit. Credit: nasatech.net
Clearing the strongback, the Thaicom 6/Falcon 9 mission roars from the pad in its quest for supergeosync orbit. Credit: nasatech.net

The engine relit for a second burn eighteen minutes later and lasted just over one minute to carry the satellite to its final geostationary transfer orbit.

The restart of the Falcon 9 second stage is a requirement for all geostationary transfer missions.

Falcon 9 rocket soar to space with Thaicom 6 commercial satellite on Jan 6, 2014 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Jeff Seibert
Falcon 9 rocket soars to space with Thaicom 6 commercial satellite on Jan 6, 2014 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Jeff Seibert

31 minutes after liftoff the Thaicom 6 spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and was placed into the desired geosynchronous transfer orbit of 295 x 90,000 km geosynchronous at 22.5 degrees inclination.

SpaceX said in a statement that, “The Falcon 9 launch vehicle performed as expected, meeting 100% of mission objectives.”

SpaceX did not attempt to recover the first stage booster on this mission, SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin told me. “We may try on the next flight.”

Thaicom 6 commercial broadcasting satellite in geosynchronous orbit, artists concept
Thaicom 6 commercial broadcasting satellite in geosynchronous orbit, artists concept

This marks the second launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 in just over a month, following closely on the heels of the maiden flight from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 3 with another commercial satellite, namely SES-8.

“Today’s successful launch of the THAICOM 6 satellite marks the eighth successful flight in a row for Falcon 9,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. “SpaceX greatly appreciates THAICOM’s support throughout this campaign and we look forward to a busy launch schedule in 2014.”

Both the Thaicom-6 and SES-8 satellites were built by Orbital Sciences, one of SpaceX’s chief competitors in the commercial space race, making for strange bedfellows.

Thaicom 6 patch
Thaicom 6 patch

Indeed it’s a very busy week for private rockets.

Orbital Sciences is poised to launch their Antares rocket in less than 48 hours on Wednesday, Jan. 8 on a commercial resupply mission for NASA that’s bound for the international Space Station (ISS).

The new Falcon 9 is the key to fulfilling SpaceX’s future launch manifest of nearly 50 payloads worth billions of dollars for a diverse customer base.

Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off with SES-8 communications satellite on Dec. 3, 2013 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off with SES-8 communications satellite on Dec. 3, 2013 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

The next gen Falcon 9 will also launch the human rated SpaceX Dragon to the ISS in a bid to restore America’s human spaceflight capability.

A pair of critical Falcon 9/Dragon abort tests are planned for 2014. Read my new article and discussion with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk – here.

The next SpaceX Dragon cargo launch to the ISS is currently scheduled for Feb. 22, said SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin told Universe Today.

Sunset launch of Falcon 9 with Thiacom 6 broadcast satellite on Jan 6, 2014 from Cape Canaveral, FL.   Credit: Jeff Seibert
Sunset launch of Falcon 9 with Thiacom 6 broadcast satellite on Jan 6, 2014 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Jeff Seibert
Almost clear of the catenary wires, the Thaicom 6/Falcon 9 mission streaks to orbit. Credit: nasatech.net
Almost clear of the catenary wires, the Thaicom 6/Falcon 9 mission streaks to orbit. Credit: nasatech.net

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, commercial space, Chang’e-3, LADEE, Mars and more news.

Ken Kremer

…………….

Learn more about SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Antares Jan. 8 launch, Curiosity, Orion, MAVEN, MOM, Mars rovers and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations

Jan 7-9: “Antares/Cygnus ISS Rocket Launch from Virginia on Jan. 8” & “Space mission updates”; Rodeway Inn, Chincoteague, VA, evening

Falcon 9 rocket disappears into the clouds following blastoff on Jan. 6, 2014 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Jeff Seibert
Falcon 9 rocket disappears into the clouds following blastoff on Jan. 6, 2014 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Jeff Seibert
Blastoff of 1st Falcon 9 rocket in 2014 with Thaicom 6 commercial satellite from Cape Canaveral, FL on Jan. 6. Credit: SpaceX
Blastoff of 1st Falcon 9 rocket in 2014 with Thaicom 6 commercial satellite from Cape Canaveral, FL on Jan. 6. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX SES-8 Flawlessly Beautiful Dec. 3 Launch – Photo and Video Gallery

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – The flawless blastoff of SpaceX’s next generation Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday Dec. 3 put on a spectacular sky show along the Florida Space Coast that was both beautiful and unforgettable – besides being truly historic as the firms first ever delivery of a commercial space satellite to the lucrative market of geostationary orbit.

For your enjoyment here’s a collection of photos and videos from fellow space photojournalists of the 5:41 p.m. EST sunset launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.

Following a pair of launch scrubs last week on Nov. 25 and Thanksgiving Day Nov. 28 caused by issues with the powerful new Merlin 1-D first stage engines, the third time was fat last the charm as the Falcon 9 blasted precisely at the opening of the 86 minute launch window.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 V1.1 rocket vents oxygen following Thursday evenings first launch attempt from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The first attempt was halted after computers showed that the engines had a slower than expected thrust rate upon startup. Credit: Walter Scriptunas II images
A SpaceX Falcon 9 V1.1 rocket vents oxygen following Thursday evenings first launch attempt from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The first attempt was halted after computers showed that the engines had a slower than expected thrust rate upon startup. Credit: Walter Scriptunas II images
As the Falcon 9 begins to 'thread the needle' of the lightning wires, a shower of ice and flames and steam scatters, cascades and billows. Credit: nasatech.net
As the Falcon 9 begins to ‘thread the needle’ of the lightning wires, a shower of ice and flames and steam scatters, cascades and billows. Credit: nasatech.net
Clear of the catenary lightning wires, the Falcon 9/SES-8 mission streaks to orbit. Credit: nasatech.net
Clear of the catenary lightning wires, the Falcon 9/SES-8 mission streaks to orbit. Credit: nasatech.net
Beautiful streak shot of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch with SES-8 satellite on Dec. 3, 2013. Credit: John Studwell
Beautiful streak shot of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch with SES-8 satellite on Dec. 3, 2013. Credit: John Studwell
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite soars to orbit.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite soars to orbit. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Falcon 9/SES-8 streak to orbit on Dec. 3, 2013.  Credit: Jeff Seibert
Falcon 9/SES-8 streak to orbit on Dec. 3, 2013. Credit: Jeff Seibert
Falcon 9/SES-8 streak to orbit on Dec. 3, 2013.  Credit: Jeff Seibert
Falcon 9/SES-8 streak to orbit on Dec. 3, 2013. Credit: Jeff Seibert
Wispy exhaust plume from SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch with SES-8 satellite on Dec. 3, 2013. Credit: John Studwell
Wispy exhaust plume from SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch with SES-8 satellite on Dec. 3, 2013. Credit: John Studwell
Blastoff of Falcon 9/SES-8 satellite on Dec. 3, 2013.  Credit: Julian Leek
Blastoff of Falcon 9/SES-8 satellite on Dec. 3, 2013. Credit: Julian Leek

Launch Video

Stay tuned here for continuing SpaceX & MAVEN news and Ken’s SpaceX and MAVEN launch reports from on site at Cape Canaveral & the Kennedy Space Center press site.

Ken Kremer

…………….

SpaceX Scores Spectacular Success Scorching Florida Sky with Next Gen Rocket

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – SpaceX scored a spectacular launch success this evening (Dec. 3 ) when the maiden flight of their upgraded Falcon 9 rocket from Florida scorched the sky of the Florida Space Coast and successfully delivered a commercial space satellite to geostationary orbit for the first time ever – thereby revolutionizing the commercial space industry from this day forward.

The third time was finally the charm as the Falcon 9 blasted off precisely on time at 5:41 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral following a pair of launch scrubs last week on Nov. 25 and Thanksgiving Day Nov. 28 caused by technical problems with the first stage engine.

The booster thundered off the pad and pierced the completely cloud free evening sky soon after sunset as the blistering roar rumbled deafeningly all across the space coast viewing area.

The rocket exhaust plume was easily visible for several minutes after liftoff of the historic mission.

Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off with SES-8 communications satellite on Dec. 3, 2013 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off with SES-8 communications satellite on Dec. 3, 2013 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

The 3,138 kg (6,918 lbs) SES-8 satellite was built by Orbital Sciences for SES and is a hybrid Ku- and Ka-band spacecraft that will provide TV and communications coverage for the South Asia and Asia Pacific regions.

This new version of the Falcon 9 rocket has nearly 50% more thrust compared to the original Falcon 9.

The stakes could not have been higher for the future of SpaceX.

The firms future launch manifest of more than 50 flights for NASA and a variety of commercial entities worth billions of dollars were riding on the success of tonight’s liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With 54 satellites in orbit SES is one of the largest commercial telecommunications satellite operators in the world.

The next generation Falcon 9 rocket injected the SES-8 telecommunications to its targeted geostationary transfer orbit flying 295 x 80,000 km above Earth.

A restart of the second stage engine was absolutely essential to the success of the mission since a failure to ignite would have doomed the SES-8 satellite from reaching is desired orbit since it’s a requirement for all geostationary transfer missions.

The picture-perfect flight met 100% of the mission objectives, SpaceX said in a post-launch statement.

“The successful insertion of the SES-8 satellite confirms the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle delivers to the industry’s highest performance standards,” said Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Designer of SpaceX.

“As always, SpaceX remains committed to delivering the safest, most reliable launch vehicles on the market today. We appreciate SES’s early confidence in SpaceX and look forward to launching additional SES satellites in the years to come.”

Today’s launch marked SpaceX’s first commercial launch from Florida as well as the first commercial flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in over five years.

Satellite operators have booked their commercial launches with other rocket companies overseas due to the high cost of other American expendable rockets.

SpaceX’s entire corporate aim has been to significantly cut the high cost of access to space.

“This is really rocking the industry. Everybody has to look out,” said Martin Halliwell, SES chief technical officer, at the prelaunch meeting with reporters including Universe Today.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

With today’s SpaceX is sure to sign even more contracts bringing additional commercial telecommunications satellite space launches back to American soil.

Approximately 185 seconds into flight, the Falcon 9’s second stage equipped with a single Merlin 1-D engine ignited.

It burned for five minutes and 20 seconds to inject SES-8 satellite into its initial parking orbit.

Eighteen minutes later the second stage engine relit for a second time and fired for just over one minute to deliver SES-8 satellite to its final geostationary transfer orbit.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite soars to orbit.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite soars to orbit. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

This extra powerful new version of the Falcon 9 dubbed v1.1 is powered by a cluster of nine of SpaceX’s new Merlin 1D engines that are about 50% more powerful compared to the standard Merlin 1C engines. The nine Merlin 1D engines 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level rises to 1.5 million pounds as the rocket climbs to orbit.

The Merlin 1 D engines are arrayed in an octaweb layout for improved efficiency.

Therefore the upgraded Falcon 9 can boost a much heavier cargo load to the ISS, low Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and beyond.

The next generation Falcon 9 is a monster. It measures 224 feet tall and is 12 feet in diameter. That compares to a 130 foot tall rocket for the original Falcon 9.

Stay tuned here for continuing SpaceX & MAVEN news and Ken’s SpaceX launch reports from on site at Cape Canaveral & the Kennedy Space Center press site.

Ken Kremer

SES- 8 Falcon 9

…………….

Learn more about SpaceX, MAVEN, MOM, Mars rovers, Orion and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations

Dec 3/4: “SpaceX launch, MAVEN Mars Launch and Curiosity Explores Mars, Orion and NASA’s Future”, Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, 8 PM

Dec 11: “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars”, “LADEE & Antares ISS Launches from Virginia”, Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, Franklin Institute, Phila, PA, 8 PM

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Ken Kremer of Universe Today discuss Falcon 9/SES-8 launch by SpaceX Mission Control at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Florida.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Ken Kremer of Universe Today discuss Falcon 9/SES-8 launch by SpaceX Mission Control at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Upper Stage Engine Restart Essential to High Stakes SpaceX Mission Success for Dec. 3 Launch Attempt

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Today (Dec. 3) marks the 3rd attempt by SpaceX to launch the maiden flight of their significantly upgraded Falcon 9 rocket with the SES-8 telecommunications satellite – following the Nov. 28 ‘Thanksgiving = Spacegiving Day’ scrub due to an aborted 1st stage engine firing in progress.

And the stakes could not be higher for the future of SpaceX – with the firms future launch manifest worth billions of dollars riding on the success of today’s liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

In an unprecedented launch event for SpaceX, the upper stage engine on the next generation Falcon 9 booster absolutely must restart in flight for a second time in order for the commercial SES-8 payload to be delivered to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

Blastoff from Cape Canaveral’s seaside Space Launch Complex 40 is set for 5:41 p.m. EST (2241 GMT).

The Thanksgiving Day launch was aborted by the computers when the Marlin engines thrust failed to build up as fast as planned.

The weather forecast currently shows a 90% chance of favorable conditions at liftoff time according to Air Force meteorologists. The only concern is for winds.

Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

The launch of SES-8 is a milestone marking the first ever attempt by SpaceX to place a satellite into the geostationary orbit replete with numerous high value commercial satellites. This is the doorway to the future profitability of SpaceX.

“I don’t want to tempt fate, but I think it’s going to have a pretty significant impact on the world launch market and on the launch industry because our prices are the most competitive of any in the world,” said SpaceX CEO and chief designer Elon Musk at a prelaunch briefing for media including Universe Today in Cocoa Beach, FL.

For the mission to be declared a success, the upper stage engine must reignite precisely as planned about 27 minutes after liftoff and burn for approximately 1 minute to successfully propel SES-8 into the propel orbit about 33 minutes after launch.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

“Whether or not this launch is successful, I’m confident we will certainly make it on some subsequent launch,” said Musk.

“This is really rocking the industry. Everybody has to look out,” said Martin Halliwell, SES chief technical officer, who joined Musk at the prelaunch meeting.

The upgraded Falcon 9 will also be the launcher utilized for the manned SpaceX Dragon capsules launching to the ISS sometime later this decade!

And the very next satellite set for launch by SpaceX later in December – Thaicom 6- is essentially already waiting at the door to the onramp to space.

SpaceX plans a live broadcast of the Falcon 9 liftoff from pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL beginning at 5 p.m. EST.

It can be viewed here: www.spacex.com/webcast

The show will feature commentary about the Falcon 9 rocket and launch sequences and the SES-8 commercial satellite from SpaceX corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA.

The Falcon 9/SES-8 launch window extends for 86 minutes until 7:07 p.m. EST.

The 3,138 kg (6,918 lbs) SES-8 satellite is a hybrid Ku- and Ka-band spacecraft that will provide TV and communications coverage for the South Asia and Asia Pacific regions.

This mighty new version of the Falcon 9 dubbed v1.1 is powered by a cluster of nine of SpaceX’s new Merlin 1D engines that are about 50% more powerful compared to the standard Merlin 1C engines. The nine Merlin 1D engines 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level that rises to 1.5 million pounds as the rocket climbs to orbit

The Merlin 1-D engines are arrayed in an octaweb layout for improved efficiency.

Therefore the upgraded Falcon 9 can boost a much heavier cargo load to the ISS, low Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and beyond.

The next generation Falcon 9 is a monster. It measures 224 feet tall and is 12 feet in diameter. That compares to 13 stories for the original Falcon 9.

Stay tuned here for continuing SpaceX & MAVEN news and Ken’s SpaceX launch reports from on site at Cape Canaveral & the Kennedy Space Center press site.

Ken Kremer

All is GO for SpaceX Thanksgiving Day Launch that could ‘Rock’ Space Industry – Live Webcast

UPDATE: The launch was scrubbed one second before liftoff at 5:39 p.m. EST Thursday. Computers sensed the Falcon 9’s rocket thrust was building up too slowly. No new launch date was immediately set.

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – All Systems are “GO” for today’s Thanksgiving Day blastoff of the upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that could quite literally ‘rock the space industry to its core’ – If all goes well.

Following Monday’s (Nov. 25) scrub during to a series of technical glitches, the rocket, launch pad systems and weather are all cooperating and ready to support the maiden blastoff of the next generation Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 at 5:39 p.m. EST.

SpaceX is offering a live webcast of today’s ‘Spacegiving Day’ launch – as they’ve dubbed it.

The live broadcast of the Falcon 9 liftoff from pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL begins at 5 p.m. EST and can be viewed here: www.spacex.com/webcast.

The show will feature commentary about the Falcon 9 rocket and launch sequences and the SES-8 commercial satellite from SpaceX corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA.

The Falcon 9/SES-8 launch window extends for 65 minutes.

Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Today’s (Nov. 28) inaugural launch of the privately developed Falcon 9 rocket with the commercial SES-8 HDTV and telecommunications satellite is especially noteworthy because it also features SpaceX’s first ever launch of any satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

The 3,138 kg (6,918 lbs) SES-8 satellite is a hybrid Ku- and Ka-band spacecraft that will provide TV and communications coverage for the South Asia and Asia Pacific regions.

The Falcon 9 liftoff was postponed to Thanksgiving Day because the FAA did not grant SpaceX a launch permit on Tuesday and Wednesday out of concern it would have significantly impacted allowable flight paths for commercial airliners on two of the busiest travel days of the year, said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk at a media briefing.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 28, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

The weather forecast currently shows a 90% chance of favorable conditions at liftoff time according to Air Force meteorologists. The only concern is for winds.

The last time a rocket launched on Thanksgiving Day from Cape Canaveral was back in 1959. It involved an Atlas Able rocket with the Pioneer P-3 lunar probe and failed.

Stay tuned here for continuing SpaceX & MAVEN news and Ken’s SpaceX launch reports from on site at Cape Canaveral & the Kennedy Space Center press site.

Ken Kremer

…………….

Learn more about SpaceX, MAVEN, MOM, Mars rovers, Orion and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations

Nov 28: “SpaceX launch, MAVEN Mars Launch and Curiosity Explores Mars, Orion and NASA’s Future”, Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, 8 PM

Dec 11: “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars”, “LADEE & Antares ISS Launches from Virginia”, Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, Franklin Institute, Phila, PA, 8 PM

Elon Musk Briefs Universe Today & Media ahead of Revolutionary Falcon 9 Blastoff

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
See live SpaceX webcast link below[/caption]

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – A new space era potentially dawns today, Nov. 25, with the planned maiden launch of the next generation SpaceX Falcon 9 commercial rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL, that could completely revolutionize how we access the high frontier and “rock the space industry to its core” by cutting cost and production times – if all goes well.

Just a day before liftoff, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk personally briefed reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL, nearby the firms Cape Canaveral launch facility about today’s (Nov. 25) upcoming maiden launch of the companies upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, saying it was “very important” for the future.

“This launch is very important to the future of SpaceX. This is our toughest mission yet!” said Musk to a small group of reporters, including the author, gathered for Sunday’s exclusive pre-launch briefing.

“Whether or not this launch is successful, I’m confident we will certainly make it on some subsequent launch,” said Musk at the Cocoa Beach meeting with the media.

The Falcon 9 liftoff from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL is scheduled for 5:37pm EST and will be webcast live by SpaceX for viewing at; www.spacex.com/webcast

Today’s (Nov. 25) inaugural blastoff of the privately developed Falcon 9 rocket with the commercial SES-8 HDTV and telecommunications satellite is especially noteworthy because it also features SpaceX’s first ever launch of any satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

From the start, SpaceX designed the Falcon 9 rocket from a clean sheet aimed at radically reducing production and manufacturing costs and assembly times and thereby offer significantly lower launch price, says Musk.

“I don’t want to tempt fate, but I think it’s going to have a pretty significant impact on the world launch market and on the launch industry because our prices are the most competitive of any in the world,” Musk stated.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

SES-8 also represents SpaceX’s first launch of a Falcon 9 carrying a commercial satellite to space from the Florida Space Coast.

“This is really rocking the industry. Everybody has to look out,” said Martin Halliwell, SES chief technical officer, who joined Musk at Sunday’s meeting.

The 3,138 kg (6,918 lbs) SES-8 satellite is a hybrid Ku- and Ka-band spacecraft that will provide TV and communications coverage for the South Asia and Asia Pacific regions.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Urijan Poerink
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Urijan Poerink

The SES-8 spacecrft was built by Orbital Sciences Corp and will be lofted to a 295 x 80,000 km geosynchronous transfer orbit inclined 20.75 degrees.

SpaceX has signed nearly 50 commercial and government launch contracts and thus already sports a very crowded launch manifest ahead of today’s Falcon 9 launch.

All five launches of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station were either test launches or flights to the International Space Station, under contract to NASA.

The five Falcon 9 launches to date from the Florida Space Coast also featured the original, less powerful and shorter version of the booster and has a 100% success rate.

This mighty new version of the Falcon 9 dubbed v1.1 is powered by a cluster of nine of SpaceX’s new Merlin 1D engines that are about 50% more powerful compared to the standard Merlin 1C engines. The nine Merlin 1D engines 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level that rises to 1.5 million pounds as the rocket climbs to orbit.

Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Therefore the upgraded Falcon 9 can boost a much heavier cargo load to the ISS, low Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and beyond.

The next generation Falcon 9 is a monster. It measures 224 feet tall and is 12 feet in diameter. That compares to 13 stories for the original Falcon 9.

The payload fairing for SES-8 is 17 feet in diameter.

The Falcon 9/SES-8 launch window extends for 66 minutes until 6:43 p.m. EST.
Weather outlook is 80% favorable at this time.

SpaceX is planning a live webcast of the launch with commentary from SpaceX corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA.

The broadcast will begin at approximately 5:00 p.m. EDT and include detailed discussions about the Falcon 9 rocket, launch and flight sequences as well as about the SES-8 satellite.

Stay tuned here for continuing SpaceX & MAVEN news and Ken’s SpaceX launch reports from on site at Cape Canaveral & the Kennedy Space Center press site.

Ken Kremer

…………….

Learn more about SpaceX, LADEE, MAVEN, MOM, Mars rovers, Orion and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations

Nov 22-25: “SpaceX launch, MAVEN Mars Launch and Curiosity Explores Mars, Orion and NASA’s Future”, Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, 8 PM

Dec 11: “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars”, “LADEE & Antares ISS Launches from Virginia”, Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, Franklin Institute, Phila, PA, 8 PM

Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS-2 launch on March 1, 2013 to the ISS from Cape Canaveral, Florida.- shot from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Ken Kremer/www.kenkremer.com
Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS-2 launch on March 1, 2013 to the ISS from Cape Canaveral, Florida.- shot from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Ken Kremer/www.kenkremer.com

Maiden Next Gen SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral set for Nov. 25

Falcon 9 during processing at Cape Canaveral Pad 40 ahead of launch scheduled for Nov. 25, 2013. Credit: SpaceX
See live SpaceX webcast link below[/caption]

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – The maiden flight of the Next Generation commercial SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the firms Cape Canaveral launch facility is set to soar to space on Monday afternoon, Nov. 25 on a ground breaking mission that will be most difficult ever.

The upgraded Falcon 9 booster is slated to haul the commercial SES-8 telecommunications satellite for the satellite provider SES for SpaceX’s first ever payload delivery to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

Liftoff is scheduled for 5:37 p.m. EST from SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 40 pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Pad 40 is the same location as all prior SpaceX launches from the Florida Space Coast.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that this launch of the Falcon 9 will be the “toughest mission to date.”

SES- 8 Falcon 9
This mighty new version of the Falcon 9 dubbed v1.1 is powered by a cluster of nine of SpaceX’s new Merlin 1D engines that are about 50% more powerful compared to the standard Merlin 1C engines. Therefore it can boost a much heavier cargo load to the ISS, low Earth orbit and beyond.

The next generation Falcon 9 is a monster. It’s much taller than a standard Falcon 9 – some 22 stories tall vs. 13 stories.

In anticipation of Monday’s planned liftoff, SpaceX engineers successful completed a wet dress rehearsal and engine hotfire test this past Thursday.

Spectators can view the launch from local public areas, beaches and roads – just as with any other liftoff.

The launch window extends just over an hour until 6:43 p.m. EST.

Weather outlook is 80% favorable at this time but deteriorates in case of a 1 day delay to Tuesday.

Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS-2 launch on March 1, 2013 to the ISS from Cape Canaveral, Florida.- shot from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Ken Kremer/www.kenkremer.com
Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS-2 launch on March 1, 2013 to the ISS from Cape Canaveral, Florida.- shot from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Ken Kremer/www.kenkremer.com

SpaceX is planning a live webcast of the launch with commentary from SpaceX corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA.

The broadcast will begin at approximately 5:00 p.m. EDT and include detailed discussions about the Falcon 9 rocket, launch and flight sequences as well as about the SES- 8 satellite.

The webcast can be viewed at; www.spacex.com/webcast

The first launch of this next generation Falcon 9 v 1.1 rocket occurred on Sept 29, 2013 on a demonstration test flight from a SpaceX pad at Vandenberg AFB carrying a Canadian weather satellite to an elliptical earth orbit.

Falcon 9 lifts off from SpaceX’s pad at Vandenberg on Sept 29, 2013, carrying Canada’s CASSIOPE satellite to orbit. Credit: SpaceX
Falcon 9 lifts off from SpaceX’s pad at Vandenberg AFB on Sept 29, 2013, carrying Canada’s CASSIOPE satellite to orbit. Credit: SpaceX

SES-8 is a hybrid Ku- and Ka-band spacecraft that will provide communications coverage for the South Asia and Asia Pacific regions.

It was built by Orbital Sciences spacecraft, weighs 3,138 kg (6,918 lbs) and will be lofted to a 295 x 80,000 km geosynchronous transfer orbit inclined 20.75 degrees.

Stay tuned here for continuing SpaceX & MAVEN news and Ken’s SpaceX launch reports from on site at Cape Canaveral & the Kennedy Space Center press site.

Ken Kremer

…………….

Learn more about SpaceX, LADEE, MAVEN, MOM, Mars rovers, Orion and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations

Nov 22-25: “SpaceX launch, MAVEN Mars Launch and Curiosity Explores Mars, Orion and NASA’s Future”, Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, 8 PM

Dec 11: “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars”, “LADEE & Antares ISS Launches from Virginia”, Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, Franklin Institute, Phila, PA, 8 PM