seeks SpaceX

SpaceX seeks to set turnaround record for an orbital rocket on Monday – Ars Technica

reuse record —

Every booster still undergoes detailed inspections between launches.

  • Falcon 9 B1058.2 stands tall on SLC-40, ready to launch the South Korean military’s Anasis 2 communications satellite.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • This booster 1058.2 is the Falcon 9, supposedly with the NASA worm logo on the other side, but that side of the rocket was facing away from where the media set up cameras.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • The Korean flag graces the Falcon 9 payload fairing, containing a South Korean military comms satellite.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • Close-up of the Korean fairing artwork.

    Trevor Mahlmann

SpaceX will attempt to launch a South Korean military communications satellite on Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Anasis 2 mission has a nearly four-hour launch window, running from 5pm ET (21:00 UTC) to 8:55pm (00:55 UTC Tuesday).

This effort follows a delay from last week, when SpaceX called off a launch attempt to investigate a second stage issue. The company has not said whether it replaced the second stage for this launch or fixed a problem with the existing hardware.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of Monday’s launch is that, if successful, it would break the company’s record for turnaround time for a Falcon 9 rocket first stage. This booster was first used on May 30 with the launch of the Demo-2 mission for NASA, successfully sending astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. A launch Monday means the company will have reused this booster in just 51 days.

This time period would not only break SpaceX’s previous turnaround record by a couple of weeks, it would also break the record turnaround for any orbital rocket. In 1985, before the space shuttle Challenger accident caused NASA to slow its efforts to refurbish the shuttle between flights, Atlantis returned to space just 54 days after landing, marking the shortest time between orbiter reuse.

Ultimately, SpaceX hopes to reduce the turnaround time between launches from weeks to days, but as it is still learning from the process, extra care is being taken between launches. After a booster is returned to the company’s hangar in Florida, the first stage is inspected for leaks and good welds, then the rocket’s avionics are tested, plus some additional testing. This investigation takes nearly a month before a booster is put back into the processing flow for a new mission.

After today’s launch, SpaceX will attempt to land the Falcon 9’s first stage on its Just Read the Instructions drone ship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The satellite is scheduled to deploy 32 minutes after the launch, following a second burn of the rocket’s second-stage Merlin engine.

There is a 70-percent chance of favorable conditions this evening in Florida. The webcast below should begin about 15 minutes before the launch window opens.

Anasis 2 launch.

Listing image by Trevor Mahlmann

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