Feb 11 2015

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3rd attempt: Live-blogging SpaceX’s DSCOVR launch and booster recovery

Live-blogging from work (without the big screen), so hopefully this will work out OK. All times Pacific.


1544: NASA-TV is shutting down…so I will too. As soon as I see or hear anything about the booster recovery, I’ll post and/or tweet it. Thanks for reading along!
1540: DSCOVR has separated from the 2nd stage. Godspeed!
1537: 2nd stage has re-ignited.
1536: It was the SpaceX Mission Control room, and it sure looks like they’re looking at the ASDS on their big screen.
1528: Still more replays of the launch. All from different angles, which is cool. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BOOSTER RECOVERY? THE WORLD WONDERS
1521: More replays of the launch. I’m still kinda blown away that they got video of the 1st Stage falling in a vertical position. That was pretty cool.
1518: Watching a replay of the launch on NASA-TV. Waiting for any 1st Stage recovery news with baited breath…
1514: Is NASA-TV showing SpaceX mission control? And is that the deck of the ASDS I see on their big screen?? Hard to tell…
1512: Stage 2 engine shut down. It’ll coast for another 22 minutes before a second burn.
1511: Stage 1 entry shut down. The next burn should be as it’s approaching sea level.
1510: Stage 1 entry start-up…it must have been using its fins and thrusters to be vertical before.
1509: Amazing that they can zoom in on the first stage descent. Freakin’ awesome!!
1508: First stage rocket on TV — and vertical!! Looks like the engine has ignited.
1507: Faring jettison. Man– that’s purty!!
1506: 1st stage engine cut off and booster separation. Second stage ignition.
1505: 33.9 km high 1468 m/s
1504: Falcon-9 supersonic.

Now to track the Booster recovery!

1502: Eastern Range is Go.
1501: Flight Termination system is armed. DSCOVR is go for launch. Falcon-9 Go for launch.
1500: Strongback fully retracted.
1459: Strongback is being retracted.
1457: All DSCOVR spacecraft systems are go for launch. Falcon-9 switching to internal power.
1456: DSCOVR is now on internal power. Official launch time will be 3:03:32 Pacific time.
1453: Terminal count has started. T-10 minutes. Video from webcast is now unfrozen (Thank you, Lord!).
1452: ARGH! Video is hung. May have to restart the feed. Better now than in 10 minutes.
1451: Terminal countdown is “Go” from all stations.
1448: NOAA, NASA, SpaceX and US Air Force are all saying “Go” for launch.
1447: Never mind on the SpaceX live stream. It costs money, which I don’t have. I’ll be following their tweets and their website for any updates. Good ol’ NASA-TV (via web stream) will just have to carry the day.
1444: T-20 minutes. Both stages fuel tanks are in a topping mode.
1439: Internal polling showing all stations are “Go” so far. Ground winds are actually decreasing, though they weren’t an issue before.
1433: T-30 minutes and counting. Final fuel topping of Stage 1 completed.
1428: This is cool: DSCOVR will provide a full-color image of Earth about once every two hours instead of taking multiple images over time that need to be merged together.
1421: DSCOVR weighs 1260 pounds. They’re finishing up refueling all stages and should be done within the next ten minutes.
1417: NASA-TV is running a video on DSCOVR that starts with the statement “The Sun is the focal point of our Solar System” — no kidding…both figuratively and literally!
1416: NASA just debriefed SpaceX on upper level winds — everything looks perfect and isn’t expected to change before launch.
1410: NASA-TV announces that no major issues are being worked at this time. Looks like the stars have finally aligned for a good launch today. Too bad the seas are too high for a booster recovery attempt onboard ASDS, though I’ll accept a miracle if that’s what needs to happen. If we don’t launch today, we won’t be able to launch again until 19 Feb because between now and the 19th, the Moon will be in the way of the path of flight.
1407: I want to stream SpaceX’s webcast as well, but it looks like that won’t start until 2:45 today. Reminder: we have an instantaneous launch window today.
1406: Upper winds have died down significantly since yesterday, and should not be an issue today.
1403: Got NASA-TV streaming at my computer. Weather briefing: No clouds, winds 15-20 knots steady out of the NNE, 58 degrees. Solar weather good. Falcon 9 and range parameters in range. Less than 5% chance weather will scrub the launch.

SpaceX DSCOVR launch update:

SpaceX is still tracking towards a 6:03pm ET liftoff of DSCOVR, but unfortunately we will not be able to attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9. The drone ship was designed to operate in all but the most extreme weather. We are experiencing just such weather in the Atlantic with waves reaching up to three stories in height crashing over the decks. Also, only three of the drone ship’s four engines are functioning, making station-keeping in the face of such wave action extremely difficult. The rocket will still attempt a soft landing in the water through the storm (producing valuable landing data), but survival is highly unlikely.

Here’s a map of the current wind and wave conditions off the coast of Florida, with the 37 degree trajectory of the DSCOVR launch in red:
DSCOVR launch trajectory

So the ADSD is somewhere in that elongated oval between the 30 marker and the 28 marker. Interesting…and makes me believe that, when SpaceX is fully controlling launches, they’ll have to take into account ocean conditions as well as local launch conditions and upper wind velocities.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/02/11/3rd-attempt-live-blogging-spacexs-dscovr-launch-and-booster-recovery/

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