SpaceX set for expendable Falcon 9 Block 5 launch attempt after 48 hour scrub



Adhering to a reported bug using Falcon 9 booster detectors that triggered a launch abort on the afternoon of December 18th, SpaceX has mitigated those issues and is ready to try again, hopefully placing the very first of 10 brand new USAF GPS III satellites to orbit shortly after a 9:03 am EST (14:03 UTC) liftoff on December 20th.

Aside from being the very first time SpaceX has launched a committed USAF mission won through a competitive procurement process, the launch of GPS III Space Vehicle 1 (SV01) are also the very first time SpaceX has blatantly expended a new Falcon 9 booster because July 2017, as well as the very first time ever that a Falcon 9 Block 5 booster will be curbed without trying to property.

Team is working toward launch of GPS III SV01 tomorrowDecember 20. Weather remains a challenge; currently predicted at 20% favorable during the 26-minute release window which opens at 9:03 a.m. EST, 14:03 UTC.

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 20, 2018

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Reputation vertical at SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) pad, Block 5 booster B1054 appears undeniably dumb or just off without grid hooks and landing legs set up, like toast without butter or a Tesla using a V8 in place of its electrical motors. The simple fact that Falcon 9 B1054 is a booster that is fresh only throws salt to the wound. On the other hand, the expendable configuration does serve as a reminder that, as it really comes down to it, SpaceX’s launch clients with as much influence as the Air Force finally have a major (or even final) state from the rocket’s trajectory.

If a customer demands an almost absurd level of redundancy, SpaceX likely has little to no say in that choice, even though it means a brand new Falcon 9 Block 5 booster – made to launch anywhere from 10-100 times in its lifetime – will have to be disposed of in the ocean after just one. Though the performance-based choice to expend Falcon 9 seems to be much more of a security blanket than a practical necessity, it does still act as a reminder that many incredibly heavy payloads and/or high performance orbits will necessarily preclude Falcon 9 or perhaps Falcon Heavy from trying booster landings. Down the street, major NASA or domestic security payloads will likely continue to require expendable configurations, at least till BFR (Starship/Super Heavy) may take over from Falcon 9 and Heavy.

A sunny day at SLC-40 — Following now ’s clean, SpaceX graciously let us photographers reevaluate the mat to check on our cameras ahead of tomorrow ’so launch of Falcon 9 and GPS III.

— John Kraus (@johnkrausphotos) December 18, 2018

Though SpaceX does seem to be acute Thursday’s launch attempt, the weather conditions are far from desired as a result of the forecasted presence of “Electric Field, Cumulus/Thick Cloud, Disturbed Weather”, as well as the likelihood of strong upper-level storms near the Florida coast. With just a 20% chance that weather conditions will allow a launch along with a short 26-minute window of opportunity, there’s little to no wiggle room for SpaceX to await a figurative break from the clouds, and another scrub appears to be extremely likely.

In case the weather does induce SpaceX to call off Thursday’so attempt, additional chances seem to be available on Friday (60% favorable) and Saturday (80% favorable). For the time being, however, Falcon 9 B1054 seems to have bought itself a few additional times to continue being a whole and (mostly) dry rocket. The watch live at the link below.

For prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket recovery fleet check out our brand-new LaunchPad and LandingZone newsletters!

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