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SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites; 1st stage landing fails

Capitalism in space: SpaceX this morning successfully launched sixty more Starlink satellites, raising the number in the constellation to 300.

However, though the launch was successful, the first stage, on its fourth flight, failed to land successfully on the drone ship in the Atlantic. Watching the live stream, it appeared from a whiff of smoke on the edge of the screen that the booster missed the target by only a short distance. This is the first time this has happened since 2015 2018 (correction from reader).

That this first stage landing failure is the news story illustrates how far they have come..

The standings in the 2020 launch race:

3 China
3 SpaceX
1 Arianespace (Europe)
1 Rocket Lab
1 Russia
1 Japan
1 Northrop Grumman

In the national rankings the U.S. now leads China 6 to 3.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • geoffc

    You forgot CRS-16, where the grid fins hydraulic systems failed. It spun up, and they continued to aim at the water, since they could not control it to divert it to land properly.

    They recovered in the last second for a soft landing on the water a mile or two offshore of the landing pad.

    Core 1050, Dec 2018.

  • geoffc: You are correct. I have edited the post.

  • MDN

    Any word on the fairing recovery? I watched the summary clip at their site but it made no mention.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Cannot find any info on the fairings yet. I was a little disappointed.
    This booster was going to have the fastest turn around at 8 weeks.

    Was pulling for them, as that just sounds phenomenal. However they have shown that they are very good at learning from the failures.

    By the old school standard, “did the payload make it to the correct orbit” this was still a success.

  • Calvin Dodge

    The speed at MECO (7700 km/hr) seemed a little high to me. I wonder if the reentry cooked some guidance hardware.

  • Willi

    The view of the first few seconds of liftoff was one of the best I’ve ever seen…

  • sippin_bourbon

    Still no word on fairing capture.

    I caught a comment (tweeter, I think) that stated that if there is an anomaly detected, the booster will steer to avoid the landing barge, to avoid the possibility of damage to the vessel.

    Not sure if this is the case here, or wild speculation.

    I liked the launch angle too, at the start. Appeared to be a camera at the top of the retracted tower? Or maybe one of the grounding towers.

    What would be super would be a 3d feed on the next one, so I can have can watch with one of these fancy VR head sets.

  • Diane Wilson

    @sippin-bourbon, it’s the other way around; the normal descent path is into the water; if the entry burn and guidance are good, it will dog-leg to the landing spot. True for both land and barge landings. So if anything goes wrong, the default is “into the water.”

    What’s curious (haven’t checked for a couple of hours) is that apparently the first stage did a soft landing over water.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Okay. I get. A failsafe into the water, and if everything is green redirects to the barge.

    Result is the same, tho, this morning. All was not green, so it did not steer to the barge, and stuck with the default safe course. At least, that is what is being speculated.

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