It’s Been A While – Space Update

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On Saturday, America’s weather observations satellites (GOES) will undergo a huge upgrade that will benefit every American and will save lives.  GOES-R will be such a huge leap from the others in orbit now, that according to an interview by assistant NOAA Administrator acquired by spaceflightnow.com, “for weather forecasters, GOES-R is like going from black and white television to super high definition TV, and for the American public GOES-R will mean faster, more accurate weather forecasting and warning.”  The GOES-R satellite will launch on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 5:42 p.m. atop of the 197-foot-tall Atlas V rocket.

There was an Atlas V launch last week that launched the Worldview-4 satellite.  United Launch Alliance (ULA), has up until last week (Nov. 11) , has been in a bit of a dry spell and the Worldview-4 launch was delayed for a few months by Range issues and most notably the wildfire that threatened and damaged some communications lines at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.  There are two more ULA launches left in 2016 after Saturday’s launch.

December 7, 6:53 p.m. – Delta 4 rocket deploys the WGS-8 military satellite

December 16, 1:22 p.m.- Atlas 5 rocket deploys the EchoStar 19 satellite that will serve HughesNet internet users with high-speed internet for North America.

This does not include the 1 or 2 launches SpaceX is hoping to have before the years end.

 

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On SpaceX news, it is finally known why their rocket burst into flames during fueling on September 1.  See, what had happen was… during fueling, the liquid oxygen propellant got so cold that some of the liquid oxygen froze and became a solid.  This happened because SpaceX likes to keep the liquid oxygen in the second stage at -340 degrees F (and it begins to become a solid at -362 degrees F).  The liquid helium containers (which is chilled at -452 degrees F) pushed the liquid oxygen to the point where it was beginning to become slushy or frozen and ignited the fibers of a helium tank.  According to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, this failure has never happened before in the entire history of rocketry.  SpaceX originally wanted to begin flying again this month, but the fixes will push the return to flight until mid-December.  It is not known if the return mission will be from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, or another mission that will be forced to launch from old Apollo and Space Shuttle launch pad 39A.  The original launch complex at Cape Canaveral in Florida that has launched all other Falcon 9 launches (SLC-40) was damaged by the conflagration of the Falcon 9 in September.

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This huge tank pictured above is a prototype of a tank that will be used on the Mars Transport Vehicle that SpaceX is currently in the early stages of building.  The tank was towed out to sea and successfully completed pressure tests.  Next on the agenda will be fueling of this massive tank.  The reason why the tank is being tested out at sea is that in the event of an rupture no harm will come to any land infrastructure (other than the barge it sits on).

There hasn’t been any news on the commercial crew front and what has been released about NASA’s new heavy lift rocket (Space Launch System) has been all technical and hopefully something that I can actually make an article that makes sense and is not loaded with a lot of NASA technical language I will be sure to update progress on that front as well.

Until next time…

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