SpaceX to resume launches at second launchpad in December


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Capitalism in space: SpaceX plans to resume launches in December at its second Kennedy launchpad that was damaged in the September 2016 explosion.

This means that after the mid-November launch of Northrop Grumman’s Zuma payload, they will begin the reconfiguration of that launchpad for Falcon Heavy. Initially the company had said it would take two months to complete that work, which would push the first Falcon Heavy launch into 2018. More recently they say they can get the work done in six weeks. Either way, this suggests that the first attempt to launch Falcon Heavy around the first of the year.

Posted on the road from Tucson to the Grand Canyon. This weekend I am running a new cave survey project there, and we are hiking down this afternoon, with the plan to hike out on Monday.]

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5 comments

  • Des

    Some work has already been done on the TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher) on pad 39a between launches, hence probably the decrease in the estimate of time to complete the work to 6 weeks.

  • geoffc

    I suspect they have concrete work to do, which takes time to cure, especially if you plan on dumping 3.6 millions lbs of thrust on top of it.

    They have been stripping down the RSS a fair bit, but that is not in the way of Heavy launch.

    There are images showing at least 2 more hold downs installed on the launch tablet.
    https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20171002/be32d7c04f9d708740d41bf84ba39885.jpg

    So they definitily have been sneaking the work in, hopefully using teh August break for other parts.

  • Kirk

    geoffc, the Koreasat-5A photos are showing that they’ve installed two more hold downs (the outboardmost clamps for the side boosters) beyond that. They aren’t wasting the time between launches.

    https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=43901.0;attach=1456949;image

  • Kirk

    NSF is now reporting publicly that NASA has approved the use of a reused booster for the upcoming SPX/CRS-13 mission (currently scheduled for a December 4 launch), to fly on the booster recovered from the June 3 CRS-11 flight.

    When they catch that booster, they will for the first time have recovered a booster which has twice flown on gentle LEO missions — possibly making it a candidate for a third flight. The three booster reflown so far each had an initial LEO flight, followed by a GTO flight and recovery, though sometimes rather crispy, as with the June 23 BulgariaSat-1 flight.

    We are still waiting for the first flight of a “Block 5” Falcon 9 which incorporates both increased engine thrust and improvements to facilitate reuse, with the goal being ten flights with only inspection, not refurbishment between flights. Only Block 5 will be used for commercial crew flights, so they need to get some of them flying successfully before their Commercial Crew demo missions.

  • Kirk

    NSF has updated their article, clarifying that while NASA has internally cleared reflying used boosters for CRS flights, starting with CRS-13, “NASA’s official stance remains one of no decision being made”.

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