back to article SpaceX's Falcon 9 poised to fling 350kg planet-sniffing satellite into Earth orbit

Planet hunters will be keeping their fingers crossed this evening as SpaceX flings NASA’s 350kg Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) into a highly elliptical orbit around the Earth. SpaceX, which was awarded "Category 2" certification for the "Full Thrust" Falcon 9 by NASA in January (PDF) despite a notable boom on the …

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Launcher

I wonder if Orbital ATK are a bit miffed that they have to deploy their payload on a SpaceX launch vehicle?

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Re: Launcher

I wouldn't think so. Procuring spacecraft and launch service from different sources isn't anything out of the ordinary.

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Re: Launcher

It would be normal if Orbital ATK was just another satellite builder, but Orbital also builds launch vehicles itself. I bet they would have loved to launch it on one of their own vehicles.

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Alert

I'm no rocket scientist, but dang, having to hit a 30 second launch window seems like quite a feat to me.

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Hitting the Big Green Button at any given moment isn't difficult.

It just means that calling a Hold scrubs the launch until the next day.

If not tonight, then tomorrow.

They have several hours worth of launch window, just in 30sec chunks.

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Often this is the case but given the unique orbit with its tie to the moon's orbit around the earth the wait on this occasion is a full lunar cycle until they can try again.

Space X have also had single second launch windows before

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Anonymous Coward

Trips to ISS have an instantaneous window so it shouldn't be a problem.

If all goes well they might get out the party balloon.

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Launch Window - gravity assist, minimal...( delta V, lunar resonant & data transfer window )

If my calculations are correct (using Kerbal Space Program) then the rocket scientists who came up with this orbit deserves a pint or gin. In pool parlance this is the equivalent of calculating how to pot the black from break everytime and having the cue ball roll back to the spot.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Launch Window - gravity assist, minimal...( delta V, lunar resonant & data transfer window )

More like curling because they can help it a bit shortly after the "shot" had been made.

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Not that weird actually. Due to the spinning of the earth they have to launch at a certain time to hit the correct orbit. Since TESS is a relatively light load they have some wiggle room for correction, hence the 30 second window. When launching to the ISS they are close to max load, and have to hit a moving target in an inclined orbit, which means launch windows are instantaneous, launch at the exact second you need to or stay on the ground.A 30 second window is a luxury basically.

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SpaceX, which was awarded "Category 2" certification for the "Full Thrust" Falcon 9 by NASA in January (PDF) despite a notable boom on the way to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015

You say "despite", but there have been 31 successful F9 launches since. That's quite a run. The CRS-7 launch failure was actually a v1.1 configuration, so has no bearing on the configuration that has just been certified (for context, CRS-7 was SpaceX mission 19. TESS will be mission 53). The next launch was the first of the "Full Thrust" iteration. No "Full Thrust" variant Falcon 9 has been lost in-flight.

The Block-4 configuration that NASA have just certified for TESS is actually what they've been using for ISS Resupply Missions for the past year and what they used to stick USAF's Secret-Squirrel OTV Mini-Shuttle into orbit.

The naming conventions are all over the place but effectively you have:

- v1.0

- v1.1 (including CRS-7 boom)

- v1.2 / "Full Thrust" / Block 3 / F9-R (including Amos-6 pad fire/explosion)

- "Full Thrust" Block 4

- "Full Thrust" Block 5

What they called Full Thrust was originally named F9R where the R stood for "Reusable" (or F9U for "Upgrade"). Anything that is "Full Thrust" is capable of landing, but there's been three iterations - the original "Full Thrust" (which was the third major Falcon 9 version - hence Block 3), and then Blocks 4 and 5, which have seen upratings to engines, and improvements made to the design to streamline refurb/reuse.

At this point, CRS-7 is irrelevant. It's >30 launches ago and using a configuration that has been superseded three times. Amos-6 is more recent, but affected Block 3 - so two versions old (though TESS will be on a "flight proven" Block 4, so that's only one iteration on, but Block 4 is well-proven on ISS and defence launches).

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And if they are launching on a block 4 then the bit about recovering the booster does not make sense either. Musk said earlier that they won't be reusing anything other than a block 5 going forward, and they are just using the older stages to explore the landing envelope.

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"does not make sense ... just using the older stages to explore the landing envelope"

So it does make sense. Also, article says "could be reused", not "would".

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Joke

If I were Musk, I would quite happily stand a Falcon 9 that has returned from space in the Atrium of my Company / Mansion / Gigantic Money Shed

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Headmaster

"... (though TESS will be on a "flight proven" Block 4, ..."

<pedant>

I'm pretty sure that it's the last of the Block 4s and it's a new booster (B1045 I think). The design is flight proven, but this booster isn't.

As you were gentlefolk!

</pedant>

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You missed one

Volcanic lair.

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Happy

Ooh shiny! A money shed. I want one of those! Sadly in my case, its current iteration would be something the size of a mouse kennel. So I guess I need to rob a few banks or found an internet business or two, before building one.

Apple's money shed is called Ireland...

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Bear in mind that both the CRS-7 boom and the AMOS 6 incident were upper-stage anomalies. The versioning for F9's upper stage is more ambiguous than for the main booster.

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@ArrZarr - but he has: https://goo.gl/maps/7zr1YXhvu292 Although, it's not in an atrium because it is kind of big...

(please tell me that I haven't just missed your joke!)

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Anonymous Coward

It's earmarked for a second launch as an ISS cargo mission subject to NASA signoff.

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> If I were Musk, I would quite happily stand a Falcon 9 that has returned from space in the Atrium of my Company

The first recovered F9 booster stands outside SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne.

Edit: and the first privately-orbited & recovered Dragon hangs just outside mission control and you can see it on every SpaceX webcast.

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The first recovered F9 booster stands outside SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne.

Not on a plinth opposite Boeing's HQ ?

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Anonymous Coward

Well, the Seegson lobby has a few rocket engines on proud display.

Seegson: Tomorrow, Together

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Black Helicopters

Edit: and the first privately-orbited & recovered Dragon hangs just outside mission control and you can see it on every SpaceX webcast.

So where's the cheese?

The space cheese that Musk orbited and brought back. You know, the one with the alien mind-control spores in it. The one that's caused Musk to build a re-usable rocket. And why? No! Not to save money launching satellites! But so the aliens can hitch a ride and sneak down to Earth on them. They're coming! They're comning! They're co... .... ...

...

...

Oh, sorry, what was I saying? Mmm, that was a nice cheese sandwich I just had for lunch. Yummy! Elon Musk is my hero. A great humanitarian. We should all buy his lovely cars - so he's got more money to build rockets and go to Mars.

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Happy

Well now,

Umm, maybe stay off the purple pills.

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Windows

Re: Well now, - Umm, maybe stay off the purple pills.

The dried frog pills are soooo much better ....

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"NASA boffins hope Musk's firm doesn't make a mess of TESS"

I see El Reg still has its headline writing AI in beta. Deep beta.

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"guidance, navigation and control systems."

"Updated to add

SpaceX has now put the launch off until Wednesday, citing the need for further checks on the guidance, navigation and control systems."

Does it use a Tesla autopilot?

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