For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER/CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – SpaceX is targeting an unprecedented Double Header of Falcon 9 rocket launches on Sunday, Aug. 30 involving Starlink and Saocom 1B satellites just 9 hours apart following the dramatic hot fire pad abort scrub of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on Saturday, Aug. 29 that was to lead off an unprecedented historic triple header of Florida Space Coast launches this weekend.
Of course the SpaceX ‘double header’ is completely dependent on having the weather cooperate – which is a tall order in the supposedly ‘sunshine state’ – and which is not happening late Saturday after being very positive to start off the midnight hours Friday, Aug. 28, into the weekend.
After receiving approval from the US military run Eastern Range SpaceX after the ULA scrub is going ahead with plans to launch two ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 rockets back-to-back on Sunday morning and Sunday evening.
Read our separate upcoming story about the ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket engine abort Saturday and minimum 7 day launch delay.
“Pending Range availability, targeting back-to-back Falcon 9 launches from Florida on Sunday, August 30—another flight of Starlink from LC-39A at 10:12 a.m. EDT followed by the SAOCOM 1B mission from SLC-40 at 7:18 p.m. EDT,” SpaceX tweeted.
Pending Range availability, targeting back-to-back Falcon 9 launches from Florida on Sunday, August 30—another flight of Starlink from LC-39A at 10:12 a.m. EDT followed by the SAOCOM 1B mission from SLC-40 at 7:18 p.m. EDT pic.twitter.com/uV9MN2Nq2X
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 28, 2020
Although the Falcon 9 launch order has flipped for the two satellites – with the 12th batch of SpaceX Starlink comsats now launching first ahead of the Argentinian Saocom-1B radar imaging satellite.
“SpaceX is targeting Sunday, August 30th for two Falcon 9 launches – a Starlink mission in the morning and the SAOCOM 1B mission in the evening,” SpaceX director of Communications James Gleeson tweeted Saturday.
SpaceX is targeting Sunday, August 30th for two Falcon 9 launches – a Starlink mission in the morning and the SAOCOM 1B mission in the evening → https://t.co/xTINcUAxPu
— James Gleeson (@gleesonjm) August 29, 2020
SpaceX is slated to launch the Starlink mission first at 10:12 a.m. EDT Sunday morning, Aug. 30 from Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center – followed by the Saocom-1B mission Sunday evening at 7:18 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL.
Previously military officials had said a minimum of about 16 hours was required between launches to reconfigure range systems to safely support back to back rocket launches from different launch pads on the Florida Space Coast.
The last time 2 orbit class rocket launched so closely together was on Nov. 11, 1966, when an Atlas-Agena and a Titan 2 rocket launched just 99 minutes apart from different pads for NASA’s two-man Gemini 12 mission.
The Agena served as the docking target for the Gemini crew to practice docking techniques for the NASA Apollo moon landing program that followed.
SpaceX will webcast both Falcon 9 launches live starting about 15 minutes before the planned liftoff:
The dynamic duo of blastoffs will count as the 100th and 101st orbital launch attempts by SpaceX since starting with the Falcon 1 booster in 2006.
Unfortunately weather is iffy for both Falcon 9 launches
“Weather is 50% favorable for liftoff of Starlink and 40% for SAOCOM 1B,” SpaceX tweeted.
Weather is 50% favorable for liftoff of Starlink and 40% for SAOCOM 1B
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 28, 2020
The Saocom-1B launch is further very noteworthy as the first to launch on a southern trajectory to polar orbit from Florida since the 1960s.
“This mission marks SpaceX’s first launch to a polar orbit from the East Coast, and the first polar launch from Florida in decades,” said SpaceX.
The mission also involves a land landing back at the Cape at Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1).
That’s the first Space Coast land landing in 6 months since the NASA CRS-20 resupply mission to the ISS in March 2020.
In another unprecedented move SpaceX also decided to skip the routinely done static hot fire tests for both launches to ensure their Falcon 9 boosters readiness to launch safely.
To say its been a busy weekend doesn’t begin to describe the grueling non stop oace weekend of space spectaculars planned by ULA and SpaceX – closing out a simply amazing August.
Here are the details about the Starlink mission from SpaceX
LAUNCH #1: STARLINK MISSION
SpaceX is targeting Sunday, August 30 at 10:12 a.m. EDT, 14:12 UTC, for launch of its twelfth Starlink mission, which will launch 60 Starlink satellites to orbit. Falcon 9 will lift off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported launch of the GPS III Space Vehicle 03 mission in June 2020. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Starlink satellites will deploy approximately 14 minutes after liftoff. You can watch the launch webcast here, starting about 15 minutes before liftoff. If you would like to receive updates on Starlink news and service availability in your area, please visit starlink.com
Here are the details about the Saocom 1B mission from SpaceX
LAUNCH #2: SAOCOM 1B MISSION
SpaceX is targeting Sunday, August 30 at 7:18 p.m. EDT, or 23:18 UTC, for Falcon 9’s launch of the SAOCOM 1B mission, which will carry the SAOCOM 1B spacecraft to orbit in addition to two rideshare payloads, Tyvak-0172 and PlanetiQ’s GNOMES-1. The mission will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This mission marks SpaceX’s first launch to a polar orbit from the East Coast, and the first polar launch from Florida in decades.
Falcon 9’s first stage previously launched Dragon to the International Space Station for SpaceX’s 19th and 20th commercial resupply missions, and it also supported launch of SpaceX’s ninth Starlink mission. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9 on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SAOCOM 1B will deploy approximately 14 minutes after launch, GNOMES-1 and Tyvak-0172 will deploy approximately 61 and 62 minutes after liftoff. You can watch the launch webcast here, starting about 15 minutes before liftoff.
SpaceX has also dispatched its fleet of payload fairing catcher boats GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief to try and catch and retrieve the nose cone halves from both missions.
Watch my Aug. 25 commentary at WKMG CBS 6 TV News Orlando as the retraction work was completed and talking about 3 upcoming launches this weekend.
Video Caption: It’s going to be a busy three days on the Space Coast with three rocket launches scheduled for a history-making line up but to make this triple-header happen, the weather and rocketry must align. James Sparvero/CBS 6
Watch my Aug. 14 guest host and Aug 3 interview appearances at ‘Stay Curious’ show at the American Space Museum about successful Mars Perseverance launch, successful splashdown SpaceX Crew Dragon on Demo-2 1st commercial mission as well as upcoming Crew-1, Artemis Moon mission, SpaceX Starlink and more:
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events