Tag Archives: Of Course I Still Love You

SpaceX has launched a space telescope!

In their first launch of a scientific satellite for NASA, SpaceX has placed the Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Surveyor (TESS) into Earth orbit and successfully recovered the first stage.  TESS is a follow-on to the massively successful Kepler space observatory.  Like Kepler, it will use the transit observation method to detect exoplanets, but unlike Kepler, it will be an all-sky survey, reliant upon an unusual orbit in a 2:1 resonance with the Moon (to avoid ever coming too close to the Moon and having the orbit disrupted).  The orbit is completely outside the Van Allen Belts, with a period of 13.7 days.  TESS will be able to downlink to ground stations during its perigees, at a distance of 108,000 km (about three times further away than the geosynchronous ring).  Although TESS has a nominal primary mission duration of two years, this orbit is expected to remain stable for decades, and the spacecraft will almost certainly be used to destruction like so many other NASA spacecraft, finding mission extension after extension until there is nothing more that it can do.

Falcon 9’s upper stage performed two burns, and then released TESS in a supersynchronous transfer orbit; the satellite itself will finish refining the orbit.  The upper stage has by now disposed of itself over the Pacific Ocean, and the payload fairing conducted a water landing as part of SpaceX’s effort to reuse the fairings.  (The company only has one fairing-catcher ship, Mr Steve, which is currently in California, unavailable for this mission.  So far, the closest a returning fairing has gotten to Mr Steve is a few hundred yards, so there is still some refinement needed.)

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Bulgaria enters the space community, as the second reused Falcon 9 flies!

SpaceX completed another successful launch today — and the first droneship recovery of a reused booster — placing BulgariaSat1 into geosynchronous transfer orbit.  It was the hottest and hardest return yet, and not quite squarely on the droneship (“Of Course I Still Love You”), but it was successful.

SpaceX isn’t quite done yet — they’re planning another launch on Sunday with the second set of ten Iridium Next satellites from Vandenberg AFB.  It’s a busy launch weekend; I’ll have more rocket launch videos tomorrow.  😉

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Thaicom 8 launch successful, and SpaceX stuck another landing!

SpaceX successfully launched the Thaicom 8 spacecraft to geosynchronous transfer orbit yesterday, after a one-day delay due to a possible issue with the upper stage.  Engineers were able to clear the rocket for launch, and yesterday’s attempt went perfectly, including the risky ocean landing.  Landing after a geosynchronous launch is very tricky, because there’s almost no propellant left — just enough for the landing burn.  It has only cold gas thrusters and its grid fins to steer and decelerate to that point.  And yet, the Falcon 9 first stage nailed another landing on Of Course I Still Love You!

The last landing from geosynchronous orbit left the stage too damaged to be reused.  It will take a few weeks to a month for SpaceX engineers to determine whether this one fared any better.

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Awesome 360 video of the Falcon 9 drone ship landing!

Alas, this isn’t as high res as some of the other cool 360 videos posted recently, but I’ll take it.  It’s pretty sweet.  😉  It has sound too, so you can hear the engine roar as Falcon approaches!  Make sure to look up, and watch for the landing legs deploying!

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