3 Space Coast Rocket Launches Reshuffled Again Puts SpaceX in the Lead Sept. 28 After ULA Delays Delta IV Heavy: Photos/Watch Live

Worm logo still visible on side of recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 booster B1058.3 that previously flew on Demo-2 carrying NASA astronauts Behnken and Hurley to ISS in May 2020. Falcon 9 for 13th Starlink comsat launch stands vertical at Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for launch scrubbed from Sept. 17, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – In what seems like an endless repetitive time-loop dream ala ‘Groundhog Day’  the trio of back to back Space Coast rocket launches that had planned to light up the Central Florida skies starting this Sunday morning from America’s two premier rocket makers United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX over the next 3 days have again been reshuffled – now placing SpaceX in the lead with the first of two Falcon 9 launches targeted for Monday morning after ULA this weekend twice delayed the Delta IV Heavy launch of a top secret spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Sunday Sept. 27 to Monday and then to no earlier than NET  Tuesday midnight Sept. 29.

All 3 rocket launch dates involving one ULA Delta IV Heavy and a dynamic duo of SpaceX Falcon 9s have entered near endless uncertainty after ULA engineers discovered problems with the swing arm retraction system at the pad, ULA reported Friday morning.

“The launch of a ULA #DeltaIVHeavy rocket carrying the #NROL44 mission for the @NatReconOfc is delayed due to an issue with the swing arm retraction system. Launch is now scheduled for 12:10 a.m. EDT, on Sept. 27, 2020,” ULA tweeted.

It’s just been a whirlwind of launch date changes this weekend.

Under the current schedule – which could change again at any moment – SpaceX has leapt ahead of ULA on the end of month calendar.

Daylight post scrub view of ULA Delta IV Heavy after Hot Fire abort on pad at 3:28 a.m. EDT on Aug. 29, 2020 – as seen up close from historic pad 34 between flame deflectors. For launch NROL-44 spysat to orbit for the NRO from Space Launch Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch has been reset to NET Sept. 29. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The ULA Delta IV Heavy would follow just past midnight on Tuesday Sept 29 around 12:02 a.m. ET. Finally, the second Falcon 9 would liftoff Tuesday evening at 9:55 p.m.

NASA Worm logo still visible on side of recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 booster B1058.3 that previously flew on Demo-2 carrying NASA astronauts Behnken and Hurley to ISS in May 2020. Heron awaits SpaceX Falcon 9 launch at KSC LC-39 Press Site – then flies away after SpaceX engineers call scrub as final countdown was to begin due to poor booster landing recovery weather in the Atlantic Ocean. Recycled Falcon 9 for 13th Starlink comsat launch stands vertical at Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for launch scrubbed from Sept. 17, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

SpaceX is now slated to launch the next Starlink comsat mission first on a recycled Falcon 9 at 10:22 a.m. EDT Monday morning, Sept. 28 from Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

“Targeting Monday, September 28 at 10:22 a.m. EDT for Falcon 9’s launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Launch Complex 39A in Florida,” SpaceX tweeted today.

The Starlink mission launch window is instantaneous.

The weather prognosis is moderate.

At this time the Air Force meteorologists team at the 45th Weather Squadron is forecasting a 60% chance of acceptable conditions at launch time.

The Primary concerns are the Cumulous Cloud Rule and Thick Cloud Layer Rule.

This 13th Starlink launch of a batch of 60 Starlink broadband internet satellites was itself delayed from last week by poor weather in the booster recovery zone off the Carolina’s coast resulting from Hurricane Sally and 4 tropical systems in the Atlantic Ocean.

Heron awaits SpaceX Falcon 9 launch at KSC LC-39 Press Site – then flies away after SpaceX engineers call scrub as final countdown was to begin due to poor booster landing recovery weather in the Atlantic Ocean. Recycled Falcon 9 for 13th Starlink comsat launch stands vertical at Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for launch scrubbed from Sept. 17, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

This first stage booster B1058.3 will  be launching for the third time on missions to space and back.

Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported launch of Crew Dragon’s first flight to the International Space Station on May 30 on the Demo-2 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard and the ANASIS-II commercial communications satellite mission on July 20.

As such the booster still features the NASA Worm logo on the side from the Demo-2 mission.

The mission is also utilizing a recycled nose cone half for the second time and marks the 2nd Falcon 9 Starlink launch this month.

The triple header of 3 in a row rocket launches now bunched up even tighter than a few days ago on Monday and Tuesday will be spectacular and thrilling whenever they take place involving one triple core Delta IV Heavy and two single core Falcon 9s blasting off on 3 different launch pads from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

All 3 rocket launches are easily viewable from the Florida Space Coast region and the weather odds are variable for all three – at this time.

The trio of payloads cover both the most clandestine military needs for US National Security and the most open unclassified civilian needs for everyday travel locating – and they are spaced out a little over some 36 hours over two days rather than three days

SpaceX will broadcast both their 2 Falcon 9  launches live starting about 15 minutes before planned liftoff time:

spacex.com/launches

Next up could be ULA about 14 hours later – if the team decides they have resolved the swing arm issue per new tweets this morning from ULA and CEO Tory Bruno:

“Working an issue with the hydraulic system that retracts the swing arm. Bird and payload remain healthy,” tweeted ULA CEO Tory Bruno.

“#DeltaIVHeavy is ready to launch #NROL44 but we are taking extra precautions to ensure all issues are resolved with the swing arm retraction system. We are working towards NET Sept. 29,” tweeted ULA.

 

Liftoff of the 23-story tall triple stick United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket on the NROL-44 intelligence gathering mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) could be re-slated for about 12:02 a.m. EDT (0402 GMT) Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020 from seaside Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida – following the earlier scrubs for the hot fire abort and faulty ground launch pneumatic systems and the swing arm problem.

Daylight post scrub view of ULA Delta IV Heavy after Hot Fire abort on pad at 3:28 a.m. EDT on Aug. 29, 2020 – as seen up close from historic pad 34 inside launch pedastal. For launch NROL-44 spysat to orbit for the NRO from Space Launch Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch has been reset to Sept. 29. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The launch period runs until about 1:30 a.m. EDT (0535 GMT).

You can watch the Delta IV Heavy rocket launch live on a ULA webcast  beginning about 20 minutes before liftoff at 11:40 p.m. ET, available at :

www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

The weather odds for the midnight liftoff are decent with 60% GO for conditions at launch time.

The primary concerns are the Thick Cloud Layer Rule and the Cumulous Cloud Rule.

Finally SpaceX will launch the fourth in a series of next generation GPS satellites on a newly manufactured Falcon 9 on Tuesday evening Sept. 29 at 9:55 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL.

Up Close view of nose cone and mission logo atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket prior to launch of GPS III SV03 mission on June 30, 2020 for the US Space Force on Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The launch window for the GPSIII SV04 mission for the U.S. Space Force extends until 10:10 p.m.

“GPS III SV04 will join the current 31-satellite operational constellation to continue to provide the gold standard in positioning, navigation, and timing services for more than four billion users worldwide,” says the U.S. Space and Missile Command.

SpaceX completed a successful static fire test of the Merlin 1D first stage engines early Friday morning Sept. 25 – thus paving the way to blastoff Tuesday evening Sept. 29.

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1309443268233445376

SpaceX falcon 9 booster minus nose cone encapsulating US military GPSIII SV04 navsat raised at pad 40 following successful Sept. 25, 2020 static fire test. Launch targeted for Sept. 29. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Military leaders announced that the U.S. Space Force will now permit use of ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 rocket for military launches following a thorough evaluation and verification of all rocket systems with SpaceX.

This 1st stage GPS booster will be recovered on the sea going droneship, returned to Port Canaveral and reflown on the next GPS III launch of the SV05 satellite next summer, Dr Walter Lauderdale of the Space and Missile Systems directorate told me during a Sept. 25, 2020 media briefing.

SpaceX will attempt to recover both Falcon 9 boosters on their 2 droneships

Watch my commentary at WFTV Channel 9 ABC TV News Orland in this Sept. 25/26 report about 3 upcoming Space Coast launches in 3 days by ULA and SpaceX

https://www.wftv.com/news/local/brevard-county/space-coast-could-see-three-rocket-launches-three-days/KBPD2XR4YZGJFBXCLXBG3VSK7Y/

 

 

Dr. Ken Kremer of Space UpClose interview with WFTV Ch 9 ABC TV News Orlando on Sept. 25, 2020 discusses 3 upcoming back to back rocket launches from Florida Space Coast

Watch my live interview discussion of current space missions and launches on Sept. 18 edition of  ‘Stay Curious’ daily space show presented by the American Space Museum, Titusville, FL.

 

Daylight post scrub view of ULA Delta IV Heavy after Hot Fire abort on pad at 3:28 a.m. EDT on Aug. 29, 2020 – as seen up close from historic pad 34. To launch NROL-44 spysat to orbit for the NRO from Space Launch Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Jean Wright/spaceupclose.com

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Starlink, 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.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Please consider supporting Ken’s work by donating at Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/kenkremer

 

Daylight post scrub view of ULA Delta IV Heavy after Hot Fire abort on pad at 3:28 a.m. EDT on Aug. 29, 2020 – as seen up close from historic pad 34 that is slated to launch NROL-44 spysat to orbit for the NRO from Space Launch Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Jean Wright/spaceupclose.com

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Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. 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.

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