SpaceX Falcon 9: Landing Videos and Next Launch

Credit SpaceX

Credit SpaceX

The automated spaceport drone ship Of Course I Still Love You sailed  back into Port Canaveral yesterday evening carrying the Falcon 9 first stage booster which launched the JCSAT-14 mission welded to its deck.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has released a YouTube video showing three different camera views of nighttime landing.

The next launch for SpaceX is the Thaicom-8 mission, currently scheduled for May 26th, at 5:40 PM EDT.  Like it JCSAT-14, it will also be launched to Geostationary Transfer Orbit, and headed to a final position at 78.5 degrees East. There is a significant difference however, as Thaicom-8 is a much lighter spacecraft built on the Orbital ATK Geostar-2 platform, and massing approximately 3.200 kg at liftoff. (JCSAT-14 weighed in at a healthy 4696 kg).

As a result,  the upcoming launch should offer an outstanding opportunity for a 3rd consecutive recovery at sea, or possibly, a higher risk return to land at Cape Canaveral. Assuming the latter is even possible in this case, it makes for a fascinating launch decision for mission managers, as a roughly $40 million first stage hangs in the balance.

Welcome to the New Space Age!

Either way, the photographic opportunities should be greatly improved.


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4 Comments on "SpaceX Falcon 9: Landing Videos and Next Launch"

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  1. PK Sink says:

    “Welcome to the New Space Age!”

    Thanks. Back at you.

  2. Keith Pickering says:

    Given the much higher v for GTO, I still have to think ship landing is the only way to go here. On the JCSAT-14 launch, they eliminated to boostback burn entirely and put the drone ship waaaay out at sea to allow for that. I suspect that they will do the same here, but go back to a single-engine landing burn (of longer duration).

  3. Keith Pickering says:

    Another interesting point is that JCSAT-14, at 4700 kg, was *recoverable* even though it was very near the upper end of the “old” (i.e., last week) Falcon-9 GTO mass specs (which were 4850 kg to GTO, if you recall). This kinda-sorta implies that the old specs were calculated with recovery in mind from the start, and the new specs are for the fully expendable version. Maybe?

    • Zed_Weasel says:

      The Falcon 9 performance specs from last week is for expandable. The new increase one is due to SpaceX tweeking the Merlin-1D+ engine up another performance inclement.

      SpaceX was sandbagging the Falcon 9 performance numbers. Notice the new 22800 kg to LEO number. Which is close to the up-rated Delta IV heavy’s LEO number.

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