For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, FL – Poor weather has again postponed back-to-back SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from Florida’s Spaceport forcing another retargeting of its 4th Falcon 9 rocket of this month to Sunday evening, Jan. 30 just past sunset of the COSMO-SkyMed radar remote sensing satellite (CSG-2) mission for the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and its fifth Falcon 9 due to carry another batch of Starlink internets satellites a day later to Monday afternoon, Jan. 31
Dismal weather and excessive winds for the COSMO-SkyMed Earth observing CSG-2 satellite mission had already forced a pair of scrubs twice on Thursday and Friday evenings as the countdown and propellant loading was about to begin Thursday and just minutes before scheduled liftoff on Friday at 6:11 p.m. ET from pad 40 with the recycled Falcon 9 rocket already loaded and venting LOX.
Standing down from today's launch of COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 due to poor weather conditions at the launch site tonight; next opportunity is tomorrow, January 29 at 6:11 p.m. EST
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 28, 2022
Although clear blue skies at last greeted us at last Saturday morning, howling and excessively strong gusty winds reaching about 40 mph continued all day throughout central Florida hurling debris and shaking lamp and street light poles in the Space Coast region forced an early launch postponement by Saturday afternoon – because it also negatively impacted SpaceX prelaunch operations by technicians at pad 40, the company announced via twitter.
Thus both the COSMO-SkyMed and Starlink Falcon 9 liftoffs from pads 40 and 39A respectively were delayed by 24 hours
Falcon 9 launch of Starlink from LC-39A shifting to Monday, January 31, and teams are also continuing to work toward launch of NROL-87 from California on Wednesday, February 2
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 29, 2022
If all goes well these pair of liftoffs on Jan 30 and Jan 31 will continue an absolutely blistering launch pace this year that could very well exceed the record setting 31 liftoffs achieved by SpaceX in 2021.
But it all still depends on the weather – which has at last significantly improved to 90% GO, leaving behind the thick overcast clouds and rain swirling over Florida’s Space Coast last week.
However it will be chilly at launch time as a cold front moved in Saturday with temperatures only reaching the mid-40s F.
Launch of the converted recycled Falcon 9 booster rocket and the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 Earth observing radar mission (CSG-2) payload to polar orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida is re-slated for an instantaneous launch window at 6:11 p.m. EST, or 2311 GMT, on Sunday, January 30, 2022 – weather permitting.
The dual launch postponements came a few hours after we media visited pad 40 to reset our remote cameras for COSMO-SkyMed.
Hopefully 3rd times the charm for '52' as blue skies return to SpaceCoast but strong gusty ground winds persist for #SpaceX #Falcon9 launch #COSMOSkyMed #CSG2 at #pad40 for @ASI_spazio #ASI.Just scrubbed again as I write this to 611PM ET Sun Jan30
From remote cam reset this morn pic.twitter.com/BnInpgT8RC
— Ken Kremer (@ken_kremer) January 29, 2022
Sunset has also moved a few minutes later and is now at 6:01 p.m. EST on Sunday – just 10 minutes before the 6:11 instantaneous liftoff time.
You can watch all the action via a SpaceX live webcast that will begin about 15 minutes prior to liftoff – starting around 5:55 p.m.:
Both payload fairing halves are also recycled from earlier missions- as can be seen by their sooty coatings on my photos.
One fairing half supporting this mission previously supported Transporter-1, Transporter-2, and one Starlink mission.
The other half previously supported SAOCOM 1B, Transporter-2, and one Starlink mission.
Blastoff of the 229 foot tall (70 meters) SpaceX Falcon 9 Starlink 4-7 mission is now scheduled for 2:17 p.m. or 5:34 p.m. EST Monday, Jan. 31 (1917 or 2234 GMT), from Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida during an instantaneous launch window.
The COSMO-SkyMed radar remote sensing satellite is sponsored by the Italian government, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian Ministry of Defense and will serve civilian, government, institutional and military needs.
2nd #COSMOSkyMed Second Generation satellite will be launched soon! Designed to meet the requirements of both commercial & institutional customers, COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation system is a crown jewel in @Thales_Alenia_S’ fleet of radar #EarthObservation observation satellites pic.twitter.com/T4fbMXM9If
— Thales Alenia Space (@Thales_Alenia_S) January 24, 2022
COSMO-SkyMed was built by prime contractor Thales-Alenia
Quite notably a twice used Falcon Heavy side core which SpaceX has converted for use as a single stick Falcon 9 first stage core for the first time is now reassigned to this launch of CGS-2.
The now converted first stage booster core is designated as B1052.
The ‘52’ markings are clearly visible on my photos
Falcon 9 is 1st stage booster B1052 converted from twice launching as a Falcon Heavy side core
SpaceX confirmed that the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this CSG-2 mission previously supported the Falcon Heavy launches of the Arabsat-6A communications satellite and U.S. military STP-2 (Space Test Program-2) rideshare as side cores for those launches conducted in April and June 2019 respectively.
Notably this CSG-2 mission launch marks the first time conversion of a Falcon Heavy side mounted strap-on first stage side core to a lone Falcon 9 first stage core.
We recently witnessed B1052 being rolled on the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on its journey rolling past the VAB and launch pads 39A and B on its way out to pad 40 on Dec. 8, 2021.
At that time last month the upper stage was already attached to the first stage and the top was sheathed in a protective covering – but its launch assignment was unknown.
Its rather rare to see such a first stage and second stage combo
Enjoy our photos taken at pad 40 and KSC by Ken Kremer for Space UpClose
Ultimately B1052 was parked at SpaceX’s pad 40 awaiting its turn for liftoff on its maiden Falcon 9 mission
When booster B1052 previously flew as a side mounted strap on the Falcon Heavy Arabsat-6A and STP-2 missions it was capped with a nose cone.
COSMO-SkyMed will launch to low Earth orbit flying southwards on a south polar trajectory from Florida’s Spaceport on Sunday evening.
Furthermore, beyond flying on a rare southerly trajectory it also features a daring and dramatic propulsive RTLS soft land landing of the first stage Falcon 9 booster back at the Cape just minutes after sunset with screaming sonic booms too some eight minutes later – for the 2nd time this month!
COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG-2) will launch on a south polar trajectory and be delivered to a sun-synchronous polar orbit to an altitude of about 385 miles (620 km) and an inclination of 97.8 degrees.
The path to launch was cleared following a successful hold down static fire test conducted by SpaceX engineers on Sunday, Jan. 23 at precisely 12 Noon – as witnessed by this author.
My Falcon 9 at pad 40 photos featured as Image of the Day at Alive Universe on Jan. 30:
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Starlink , SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions 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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