SpaceX Test Launches Falcon 9 Twice for First Global Trade Mission


Probably being the third orbital class launch for the recall in question, the upcoming launch of SpaceX, led by lead customer Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN), could potentially claim many "major" space flight premieres, ranging from the first times The Falcon 9, which has already flew over twice, was launched on the east coast at the first attempt in the world landing a commercial spacecraft on another planetary body – the Moon, in this case -this.

SpaceX completed the final phase of critical testing of the proven Falcon 9, filling the propellant rocket and successfully completing static boost on the evening of February 18th. According to SpaceX, everything is on schedule for an attempt to launch the LC-40 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base (LCAF) on Friday, February 21 to 40, with the takeoff currently scheduled for 8:45 pm EDT. (01:45 UTC).

If all goes well, launch PSN satellite Nusantara Satu (formerly PSN-6; "An archipelago") – carrying two copassenger spacecraft – could be an extremely important moment for a commercial spaceflight. Thanks to the support of carpool provider Spaceflight Industries, these two passengers will be sent to high-energy geostationary orbits long relegated to dedicated launches of very large satellites, usually weighing several tons. While it is fair to say that this is not the first time in history that a geostationary launch has been launched, it is certainly the first time such a mission profile has sought to find a commercial customer.

In this case, this commercial entity is the Israeli company SpaceIL, which supports the world's first commercially developed lunar lander, a spacecraft of about 600 kg (1300 lb) called Beresheet (in Hebrew). "In the beginning"). Designed by SpaceIL and built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the craft has since been installed on the PSN-6 and built into the payload fairing of the Falcon 9, with a much smaller copassenger, a microsat funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRIL). "S5". The latter, which weighs about 60 kg (130 lb), is an experiment designed to determine whether small satellites can be used in geostationary orbit (GEO), S5 focusing on cataloging and tracking GEOsat.

Spaceflight Industries aims to create a new market

Under the leadership of the Spaceflight Carpool industry leader, the PSN-6 – known as GTO-1 by SI – could potentially open a new and very useful area of ​​spaceflight, until almost closed to customers missing tens of millions of dollars for the launch. fresh. Although we do not know exactly how Spaceflight worked with SSL and / or PSN, the mission profile and its potential are both fascinating and complex.

"What we do with [GTO-1] It's really cool because it's a type of mission that was not really available [commercially] in the past – take a ride up to GEO and then separate into GEO as an independent spaceship. . . We are very excited to test the market and prove – really, to create – a new market here with GEO [and GTO] carpooling. "- Ryan Ostello, Spaceflight (January 2019)

In an interview with Spaceflight Mission Manager Ryan Ostello at the end of January, the executive was excited about the future potential of Spaceflight's new GTO (and GEO) offerings and the many ways in which they could change the game for a number of companies and startups. spacecraft much smaller but no less capable. If we take into account the Astranis and Terran Orbital startups and the powerful SSL, the interest for small geostationary satellites has never been greater and a number of pioneering missions in 2020 and 2021 – if successful or at least promising – could mark a paradigm shift for the geostationary satellite communications sector as a whole. Often perfectly sized (100-500 kg) for a handful of small developing development launchers such as Terran Relativity, Beta Firefly and RS-1 ABL Space, it will probably take several years before these new rockets are able to reliably support these vehicles. smaller launches, leaving ridesharing missions as the only possible route for interested customers until the early or mid-2020s.

As part of the completion of this important geostationary milestone, Spaceflight had to design, build, and test the customized hardware needed to protect AFL's S5 satellite for several weeks, from its geostationary orbit to the destination of the PSN-6 geostationary orbit, as well as mounting hardware needed to load the SpaceIL probe Beresheet at the top of the main satellite host. In fact, the mission profile of GTO-1 is extremely complex, requiring multiple maneuvers and separations to separate Beresheet shortly after the separation of the entourage of Falcon 9, bring S5 into a geostationary graveyard orbit (GEO + ~ 300 km) to separate Spaceflight. Customize the hardware, return to a lower orbit to deploy the Air Force satellite, and then insert PSN-6 into its final operational orbit.

"We have to actually open our adapter system to allow the [AFRL S5] spacecraft to go out, so we have about half a day to allow us to separate the top of our cone adapter system, and then to drop [the orbit] move back a little [because we can’t drop that junk off in GEO – you have to use the GEO graveyard slot]. "- Ryan Ostello, spaceflight

The Falcon 9 B1047 made its first and second launches in July and November 2018 (see photo here), respectively. (SpaceX)

"GTO is pretty cool because you can do all sorts of positive missions in C3. [to] Points of Lagrange or pretty much [anywhere] in the solar system where you want to go … With SpaceIL, potentially in the future [Spaceflight will also] be able to work in partnership with them to bring things to the moon if they have customers who want to bring payloads to the moon. "- Ryan Ostello, spaceflight

The fact that the first main passenger (by weight) of GTO-1 is as revolutionary a mission as the commercial lander Beresheet Moon is also not a coincidence according to Ostello, a feeling that was quickly reinforced by an agreement between European company OHB could use Beresheet derived landers to route European payloads to the moon. Ostello expressed similar interest and optimism a few weeks before this announcement. Although not directly Spaceflight, the fact that IAI (the maker of Beresheet) wants to produce more landing gear for other customers essentially opens the door to Spaceflight or other commercial or government entities that want to buy future LGs for customer payloads or organize their launch on the Moon.

Second time the charm of the third time

As the elimination process is scheduled for launch on an unspecified Falcon 9 (ie, which boosters are in Florida), the PSN-6 / GTO-1 will feature either the Falcon 9 Booster B1047 or the B1048, two boosters tested in flight to which no known mission will be assigned. are also known to be in Cape Canaveral. B1047 launched the Es'hail-2 satellite for the last time in mid-November, while its second launch (from California) was completed in early October, before being shipped to Florida for unknown reasons. As the B1048 is located in the 39A hangar, the absence of reports of a recall from 39A to 40 suggests that the B1047 is the Falcon 9 that successfully conducted its third static shot on the platform. last night.

Shortly after its launch, the Falcon 9 thruster will make its way to the drone ship Of course, I still love you (OCISLY), located about 650 km off the coast of Florida, for the second time ever that SpaceX has launched and landed three times with the same Falcon 9 recall, following the third launch of the B1046 last December. The SpaceX refit recovery ship, Mr. Steven, also arrived in Port Canaveral last week after a nearly 5,000 mile (5,000 km) trip from the port of Los Angeles, evoking the possibility of his first attempt to fairing take on the east coast.

The fairway receiver Mr. Steven is now part of the larger SpaceX fleet in Florida, including GO Quest, GO Navigator, GO Searcher, OCISLY and tugs. (Tom Cross – 15/02/19)

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