Tag Archives: Cape Canaveral

New auto-destruct system to increase launch rate

The competition heats up: A new auto-destruct system operating by computer, using GPS, and installed on each rocket should allow the launch rate in Florida to ramp up significantly.

Up until now it took several days to reconfigure the ground-based radar facilities. This system, first used on the most recent Falcon 9 launch, does not require this. It also involves fewer people to operate it. They expect that they will soon be able to launch up to 48 missions per year, some on the same day.

X-37B about to land?

Because of sudden Air Force preparations of the old space shuttle runway at Cape Canaveral it is now believed that the X-37B spacecraft presently in orbit for the past 21 months is about to come home.

The spacecraft has not yet landed, but recent orbital changes spotted by amateurs as well as runway preparations at the Cape all point to an end to the mission.

In preparation for landing at Kennedy, teams practiced landing drills and post-landing safing operations as well as emergency drills at the SLF [Shuttle Landing Facility] last week.

The X-37B landing also helps explain the until now curious delay to SpaceX’s launch of the SpX-10 resupply mission for the International Space Station which had originally been scheduled for the 14th as well – the opening day of the X-37B’s landing attempts at Kennedy. When the SpaceX mission was delayed, it was stated that range assets necessary for the return to launch site landing of the Falcon 9 core stage were not available from 14-17 February, while all other range assets necessary for launch were available during that window.

While the secretive nature of the mission precludes any exact knowledge of the ground track the X-37B will take, a descending node reentry over large portions of the United States is the likely option given the landing window for the restricted air space in and around the Kennedy Space Center.

If the X-37B lands this week, it will have completed the fourth such mission from the Air Force’s known fleet of two spacecraft. One did flights 1 and 3, while the other did flights 2 and 4.

SpaceX to land both Falcon Heavy first stages and Dragon at Cape Canaveral

An environmental report, prepared by SpaceX, describes in detail their plans to build landing facilities for their Dragon capsule as well as two more landing pads to facilitate the vertical landing of all three Falcon Heavy first stages at Launch Complex 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

It is not clear when this work will go forward, though I suspect it will not be too far in the future.

2015 the busiest launch year for Florida since 2003

The competition heats up: With 17, Florida had more rocket launches in 2015 than it has had in more than a dozen years.

Russia once again had the most launches in the year, with 29 (including 3 failures). Overall, launches worldwide were down, from 92 in 2014 to 87 in 2015. However, the uptick in the U.S., spurred I think by SpaceX, suggests that the U.S. numbers will continue to rise, and in in a few years the U.S.will take the lead.

Note also that when the shuttle was retired many thought that — with the loss of that government operation — it would be the end of the Florida launch business. Competition and private enterprise have instead shown that a dependence on government is not the only way to do things, and is in fact not the best way to do things.

VAB to be opened to tourists for the first time in years

The Vehicle Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral is going to be opened to tourists for the first time in years.

Back in around 1977 I was down in Florida for that year’s science fiction Worldcon convention. At one point we went out to the space center to take the tour. Since this was after Apollo but before the shuttle, the VAB was then part of the tour, and they took us inside at the ground level so we could look up into its vast height. Hopefully, the new tours will let the tourists see more.