back to article Through many dangers, toils and snares.... SpaceX to send amazing GRACE to spaaaaace

Because ride-sharing is caring, SpaceX will send the next batch of Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit along with a pair of NASA gravity monitoring orbiters, GRACE-FO. The launch, scheduled for 1947 UTC (1247 PT) from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base today, will reuse the outdated Falcon block 4 rocket that flung mystery- …

  1. sjsmoto

    Spaaaaace trash

    I'm getting annoyed with the first stage trash that's allowed to be dumped at the bottom of the ocean like a bunch of large cigarette butts. Come on, find some way to make these things always recoverable. The more space flight happens, the more trash we'll get.

    And this isn't even counting the satellite trash. Everything released into space should be built to return and be burned up in the atmosphere if it can't communicate with a ground station after x months.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Spaaaaace trash

      Well, it's good breeding ground for underwater critters. Kinda crumpled though, these things are flimsy.

    2. mr.K

      Re: Spaaaaace trash

      It is just that the world is a little more complicated than that. "..make these things always recoverable" isn't all that hard, it is just that it requires more fuel and less cargo sent to space. Trying to protect the environment is a good thing indeed, but there has to be a cost-benefit analysis even there. You do not drive a lorry to the other side of the country to pick up piece of plastic bag and then drive back.

      Slap some sort tax on them which should be used to collect tenfold the amount of garbage out of the sea from the shore line.

    3. Kugutsu

      Re: Spaaaaace trash

      It's a little ironic that you are aiming your rant at the one company who are currently actually able to recover many of their boosters. As for your satellite trash comment, I am pretty sure that end-of-life deorbit (or shifting to a graveyard orbit for things further out) is now a requirement.

  2. ObSolutions, Inc
    Headmaster

    Hmmm

    "The pair measure Earth’s gravity field by detecting minute changes (down to a micron level) in the distance between the spacecraft caused by anomalies in gravity."

    I'm guessing that the crafts are affected by variations in gravity, not just anomalies.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Hmmm

      Well, as it's the space that actually changes "shape", then yes, the gravity itself changes. Gravity = 1 unit only applies to earth gravity. I'm not sure what the mass ratio to space curvature is, but possible it's measured in narwhals per olympic swimming pool?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

    Would be a shame to think SpaceX could land it, but it's being dumped at sea to avoid all the hassle/cost of decommissioning a flight-proven older generation Falcon 9 rocket.

    (Given, SpaceX landings have been more successful than anyone dreamed of, especially in terms of finding space to store the flight-proven rockets).

    Hopefully, Elon Musk can clarify things.

    1. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

      I'm pretty sure that if they could put it *safely* on one of the pads after getting all of this up there they'd do that, because, despite decomming the line, I'm going to bet there are some things in there that would be quite worth recycling.

    2. Graham Dawson

      Re: I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

      More likely they want to concentrate all their resources on testing the faring capture without the distraction of having to land a stage as well.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

      In the past, some flights didn't have the "landing" because there just wouldn't be enough fuel left in the tanks due to payload weight, etc. This might be a factor here.

    4. handleoclast

      Re: I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

      Just a guess here (which will probably get shot down by people who know what they're talking about) but maybe they needed all the fuel to get the combined mass of those satellites where they need to be and couldn't spare any for a landing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

        To add to that, these satellites are heading for a polar orbit. For those, you don't get a thousand miles per hour head start from the earth's rotation, so they must need to use more fuel to compensate.

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

          Yes, they are dumping them because is cheaper. The cost to recover is the barge to land on, the time to get it back, the cost of craning it off the barge, the cost of storing it until you spend even more money and time to dismantle it. And actually, the environmental cost of that lot is probably higher than just dumping it.

          But tbh, dropping a few in the water is still less impact that a couple of containers falling off a ship, and you don't seem to be complaining too much about that.

    5. David Knapman

      Re: I hope Space X aren't deliberately dumping these at sea because it's cheaper to.

      Bear in mind - *every* other space launch provider *always* dumps their first stages at see.

      This is a Block 4 Falcon - only really good for one relaunch anyway and this is it. So there's no point recovering these things anyway when everyone else gets to dispose of *their* empties at sea and there's no reuse potential.

      By the time any other provider is going to be able to do any reuse, SpaceX should have cleared their backlog of Block 3s/4s and just have a stock of Block 5s which are built for extensive reuse.

  4. Alistair Silver badge
  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pint

    "Sometimes you gotta turn the hard six" etc.

    Capt. Jennifer Haden of the 30th Space Wing

    Admiral Adama wants to see you on the bridge now, Captain!

  6. Crisp Silver badge

    How many LOHANs could this get into orbit?

    For that matter, what's that in PARIS's?

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Hmmm

    Very poor vid this time, and none at all of the satelites themselves. We've had much better ones. Makes me wonder if there was something else going on.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Hmmm

      What, you mean they might have priorities other than providing an entertainment medium to interested geeks?

      Say it ain't so.

  8. a_mu

    How small an anomaly can be detected

    I wonder, how large a lump of mass has to be to be detected,

    something dense like a nuclear reactor or a large lump of metal must make a dent in the field !

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