SpaceX plans to launch the SAOCOM-1A satellite this weekend from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, with liftoff currently scheduled for 10:21 PM EST (2:21 UTC) on Sunday, October 7 from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E).
This weekend’s launch will feature the same Falcon 9 Block 5 first stage that launched Iridium NEXT 7, and will be just the second time that a Block 5 Falcon 9 core has been reflown. The payload, the SAOCOM-1A satellite, will be delivered to a Sun-Synchronous Orbit, where it will be part of a six-satellite constellation that CONAE (the Argentine space agency) will use to image the Earth in conjunction with the Italian COSMO-SkyMed satellite constellation.
A Falcon 9 first stage comes in for a landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (Photo: Spaceflight Now)
What makes this launch particularly interesting is that the Falcon 9’s first stage will return to the launch site at Vandenberg AFB to land, which will make it the first RTLS (Return to Launch Site) landing on the West Coast. All of SpaceX’s previous RTLS landings have been conducted at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 first stage that is being reflown for this mission previously landed at sea aboard SpaceX’s drone ship Just Read the Instructions during the Iridium NEXT 7 mission back in July.
A live webcast of the launch should be available at spacex.com and on the company’s YouTube channel approximately 20 minutes before liftoff.
Peace, love and rockets…
SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell has admitted in more than one interview that she and her employees are fans of “Firefly.” (Photo: Teslarati)
In the six years that Take Back the Sky has been campaigning for a SpaceX Crew Dragon named Serenity, we’ve been encouraging people to send cards and letters to the company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, asking him to name the first ship of the line after the spaceship in Joss Whedon’s 2002 TV series Firefly.
From 2013-2016, Jeff and I appeared at numerous comics and science-fiction conventions across four states with the same message: it’s Elon Musk’s ship, and Elon Musk’s money, so, ultimately, the decision as to what the name of the first Crew Dragon will be is going to be his.
While that may still be true, in recent months some developments have led us to believe that Elon Musk himself may no longer be the key player in whether or not our campaign is successful. With less than a year to go until the Crew Dragon is launched for her first manned demo flight, we now believe that if we are to convince SpaceX to name the ship after Serenity, the person we really need to win over is President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. Here’s why…
It’s almost become a rarity to have a break between SpaceX launches anymore. It seems like we’ve written a lot this summer about multiple launches in the span of a week, or even two launches in a weekend, so it’s kind of hard to believe that it’s been over a month since the last time a Falcon 9 broke atmo. That will change Sunday night though, when SpaceX launches the Telstar 18 Vantage satellite (Telstar 18V for short) into Geostationary Transfer Orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Night launches of the Falcon 9, like the one SpaceX plans this Sunday, can be visually quite spectacular. (Photo: Mike Killian via Space Coast Daily)
The upcoming launch, which is scheduled for September 9 at 11:28 PM EDT (03:28 UTC), will feature a brand new “Block 5” Falcon 9 that has never previously flown. SpaceX plans to recover the rocket’s first stage in the Atlantic Ocean aboard the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
The Telstar 18V is a communications satellite that will be shared between the Canadian company Telesat and Hong Kong’s APT Satellite Co. Ltd. According to Telesat, it is designed to aid communications from India and Pakistan all the way to Hawaii, and has a potential mission length of more than 15 years. SpaceX successfully launched the second satellite in this series in July of this year.
The most recent weather forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing shows 60% favorable conditions for Sunday night’s launch.
So, if you’re looking for an alternative to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (Astros at Red Sox, if you were wondering) or NBC’s Sunday Night Football (Bears at Packers, if you care), you can watch the prime time launch of Telstar 18V live online at spacex.com or the company’s YouTube channel. For those new fans out there, SpaceX typically begins its live webcast of launches approximately 20 minutes before liftoff.
Peace, love and rockets…
Ni-hao, y’all — Jeff here, Rocket-Scientist-in-Residence here at Take Back the Sky. I’ve been offline for some time now tending to a newly arrived future Browncoat. Last week, NASA finally announced the assignments of which astronauts will be assigned to which flights aboard which independently made American spacecraft. I’m rather surprised that no one is commenting on what’s right there in the open for everyone to see, so I thought I’d offer my two cents here. Continue Reading
In 2004, the Chicagoland Browncoats decided to hold a one-night banquet that was planned as a formal Sino-Western ball like the one in the Firefly episode “Shindig.” The event was such a hit that Browncoats decided not only that they would do it annually, but also that they would host it in a different city every year. This unique shindig, officially dubbed the “Browncoat Ball,” has moved from location to location, year after year, and has gradually evolved into a full weekend of social activities, sightseeing at local tourist attractions and celebrating all aspects of the Firefly and Serenity ‘verse.
Previous Browncoat Balls have been held in Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin, Portland, Charlotte, Warwick (RI), Albuquerque, Phoenix, Greenville (SC), Virginia Beach, Salt Lake City, and most recently Gettysburg, PA. This year’s Browncoat Ball will be held August 17-19 in Washington, DC.
I attended my first (but hopefully not only) Browncoat Ball last year, and after my weekend at the Gettysburg shindig, I am convinced that every serious fan of Firefly and Serenity should make it a point to attend this event at least once. While every ball is different, I hope that the following account of my time at last year’s ball might give you some idea of what to expect if you decide to go.
It’s been a busy summer for SpaceX, and this month will be no exception. One might say the beginning of August will have its ups and downs for Elon Musk and company– quite literally– with the CRS-15 mission drawing to a close and the launch of yet another satellite.
SpaceX’s Dragon will return to Earth this weekend after spending more than a month berthed at the International Space Station, signaling the end of the CRS-15 mission. The capsule is scheduled for splashdown south of the Port of Los Angeles on Friday, August 3. Should an alternative landing date be deemed necessary, Dragon’s return could be postponed until Sunday, August 5, with splashdown occuring in the same general area. Once recovered, Dragon will be brought back to the Port of Los Angeles for the unloading of any time-sensitive cargo. The remainder of Dragon’s cargo will be unloaded once the capsule has arrived at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
And on Tuesday, August 7, SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Falcon will be carrying the Merah Putih (Telkom-4) communications satellite, which will provide coverage to Indonesia and India. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:19am, EDT (5:19 UTC). The Falcon 9 that will be used for this upcoming mission previously flew for the Bangabandhu-1 mission. The Merah Putih satellite will be placed in a Geostationary Transfer Orbit, and the Falcon 9’s first stage will be recovered once again, with a landing planned in the Atlantic Ocean on SpaceX’s drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
Those who would like to watch the launch can tune in to spacex.com or the company’s YouTube channel. SpaceX’s webcasts typically begin around 20 minutes before liftoff.
Peace, love and rockets…
For nearly six years now, our Twitter account (@TakeBacktheSky) has been participating in that Twitter tradition known as “Follow Friday.” It’s really not clear to us where the practice originated, but the idea of recommending accounts that others should follow (and perhaps having others recommend yours) was one that seemed like a valuable tool back when we first started Take Back the Sky. After all, the more times a Twitter handle shows up in the Twitterverse, the more likely folk will be to check out who’s behind it and what they’re all about. In the early days of our campaign, it’s likely that Follow Friday tweets actually did give us some valuable exposure, especially when we still had active online petitions asking Elon Musk and SpaceX to name their first Crew Dragon after Serenity.
But after careful consideration, we believe the time has come for us to end our participation in Follow Friday.