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02/26/2018 – Ephemeris – The Falcon Heavy, a game changer

February 26, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, February 26th. The Sun will rise at 7:25. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 1 minute, setting at 6:26. The Moon, half way from first quarter to full, will set at 5:52 tomorrow morning.

It’s been 20 days since SpaceX launched their massive Falcon Heavy rocket. Basically three Falcon 9’s strapped together, it’s now the most powerful rocket now in service, whose payload mass to orbit was only exceeded by the Saturn V Moon rocket of the Apollo days. Where the Saturn 5 was more than a billion dollars to launch and the Space Launch System (SLS) now being built with a similar price tag, a Falcon Heavy launch is supposed to be less than 100 million dollars. The next version of the Falcon 9, Block 5, should be powerful enough to launch astronauts to the space station, the original task for the Falcon Heavy. This may mean that the Falcon Heavy may have a short life span. This is because the next rocket is coming off the drawing boards, or rather CAD programs, the BFR, the Mars rocket will be even more powerful and reusable.  However the low price tag of a Falcon Heavy launch may be too inexpensive to pass up, even for NASA for heavy satellites of deep solar system missions

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Falcon Meavy launch

Test launch of the Falcon Heavy, as it clears the tower on February 6, 2018. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: SpaceX.

Side boosters landing

The side boosters landing back at the Cape. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: SpaceX.

04/04/2017 – Ephemeris – First relaunch and recovery of a rocket booster

April 4, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 4th.  The Sun will rise at 7:17.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 8:14.  The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 4:24 tomorrow morning.

Last Thursday SpaceX launched a communications satellite, SES-10 toward geostationary orbit using a used Falcon 9 first stage booster, that landed last April.  To them it’s not a used rocket but a flight proven booster.  Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO is not going to try launch this booster a third time, but will give it to the Cape Kennedy Visitors Center.  Re-usability is the key, according to Musk to his plans to get to Mars and to possibly reduce the cost of getting payloads into orbit by as much as 30% than his already lowest prices in the industry.  Besides landing the booster on their automated drone ship, they were able to recover the two halves of the fairing that protects a satellite as it ascends through the atmosphere.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

SES-10 launch

The second launching of this particular booster with the SES-10 satellite. Credit SpaceX video feed.

Landing No. 2

The video feed cut out during the landing of the booster, but the next shot was of the booster standing upright on the drone ship. Credit SpaceX video feed.