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The upcoming Falcon Heavy schedule

Link here. After the estimated October launch of an Air Force technology demonstration satellite, the next launch is a communications satellite for Saudi Arabia set for the December/January time frame.

After that there are no scheduled Falcon Heavy launches, though three companies, Intelsat, Viasat, and Inmarsat, have options for launches.

In related SpaceX news, the company came within 200 feet of catching one half of the fairing from last week’s launch. The picture of the fairing coming down by parachute is very cool, and indicates that SpaceX is very close to recovering them.

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.


  • Mike Nelson

    I wonder why they don’t just snag these while on the parafoils with helicopters. Per Falcon 9 specs online the payload fairing only weighs about 4,200 lbs. and per will a Black Hawk can sling 9,000 lbs.

    Seems like 1 ship to play as a helo carrier/recovery ship with two helos could easily start recovering all of the fairings with the tech in hand.

    I venture it could be less expensive too as you’d only need one ship to recover both halves (with their ship catching scheme they’re going to need two), and surplus Black Hawks look to cost only about $1M.

  • Localfluff

    Maybe Musk has got some ulterior motive for wanting to steer fairings in the atmosphere with parachutes and cold gas thrusters? (Large) helicopters and sea landings are not available on Mars.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    The idea of a Blackhawk helo snagging a SpaceX PLF half is amusing.

    The physical dimensions of a SpaceX PLF half is 13.9 x 5.2 x 2.6 meters. Slightly bigger than a Blackhawk airframe. It is doubtful that the Blackhawk or any similar size helicopter will be able handle the aerodynamic forces that is induced by such a large object along with the parafoil attached to the PLF. Especially the concave side of the PLF facing the down draft of the helo rotor wash.

    Also the C-130 can not physically bring a SpaceX PLF inside the cargo bay. So you need to convert a C-17.

  • Steve Cooper

    You don’t catch a fairing into the chopper fuselage. you use a hook to grab the chute and let it hang.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    Steve Cooper wrote:

    You don’t catch a fairing into the chopper fuselage. you use a hook to grab the chute and let it hang.

    Didn’t post anything about hauling the PLF into a helo. The PLF and para-foil causes too much drag for a Blackhawk size helo to handle as a sling load, especially with the down draft from the rotor wash.

  • Col Beausabre

    Zed, who says yer limited to Hawk? The Marines just took delivery of the CH-53K King Stallion, just a bit smaller and less powerful than, the Russian’s MI-26, as World’s most powerful helicopter…so buy some of the CH-53E Super Stallions that are gonna be displaced and sold off (or if the Echoes go to the Reserves, then the birds the USMCR have been flying….somethings gotta be surplus, the USMC/USN/USAF have been flying various models of the 53 series since the mid-sixties, most famously by the Air Force on Combat Search and Rescue in Vietnam but also….

    “The success of this project led eventually to the USAF CH-3 Mid-Air Recovery Systems (MARS) that performed hundreds of midair recoveries of reconnaissance remotely piloted vehicles during the Vietnam War. Photo reconnaissance drones used USAF C-130s as launch vehicles and CH-3 and CH-53 helicopters as recovery vehicles.”

  • Zed_WEASEL

    Maybe the CH-47F, CH-53K or the Mi-26 could do a mid-air PLF recovery. They will have to do some flight testings to find out.

    The issue is not the helo’s lifting capability, even the Blackhawk is more than capable in that department. It is the helo’s ability to handle a large and fluffy slinged object (PLF & para-foil) that is affected by the down draft from the rotor wash.

    The PLF is bigger than the typical yellow school bus.

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