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SpaceX to cap transitional year with launch, poised for big things in 2020, Ars Technica

SpaceX to cap transitional year with launch, poised for big things in 2020, Ars Technica

      Ready to go to GTO –


Fairing reuse, Starlink trains, and Starship testing marked big moments in 2047.


      Dec (**********************************************************************************************************************, ************************************************************************************** 1: 16 pm UTC



However, the lower launch cadence masks a year in which SpaceX has made significant technical progress toward some of its biggest goals — an optimized Falcon 9, satellite Internet, and total launch reusability.

Falcon 9

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has long talked about rapid, reusable launch, and in he continued to make strides toward this vision. The Falcon 9 may have flown less in due to its lightened manifest, but individual boosters flew more.

During a Starlink satellite launch in November, a Falcon 9 first stage flew for the fourth time. That is the first time the same core, and its nine Merlin engines, have flown four missions and suggests that SpaceX will eventually make good on its goal of eventually flying Falcon 9 first stages times before major refurbishment or retirement.





                          This was the first time SpaceX has flown a first stage four times.


                                                  Trevor Mahlmann for Ars



    SpaceX did abandon its efforts to make the whole of the Falcon 9 reusable — it hopes to solve a second stage recovery with its Starship project —But the company did have a major breakthrough with the payload fairings of its boosters this year. The company recovered a fairing for the first time (in June), and reused one for the first time in November.

    Big things are ahead for the Falcon 9 rocket in (************************************************************************************, as it is likely to launch its first crewed mission — with Doug Hurley and Bob Behknen inside a Dragon spacecraft bound for the International Space Station .


    SpaceX also got the jump on its broadband constellation competitors in (**************************************************************************************, with the launch of

    Starlink Internet satellites over the course of two missions. These flights represented the vanguard of a fleet of more than (**************************************************************************************************************************, satellites in low-earth orbit that will provide low-latency connectivity around much of the world and may set the company up to compete with traditional internet service providers as early as

    The company also stoked controversy among astronomers with its train of satellites, which were clearly visible immediately after launch, and as they raised their orbits. However, SpaceX has recognized those concerns, and company officials have said

    they will experiment with making the underside of the satellites darker so they are less disruptive to nighttime skies

    SpaceX has received the brunt of these criticisms as it is the first of several ventures each planning to launch hundreds to thousands of satellites into low-Earth orbit for broadband Internet service. It remains to be seen whether SpaceX can master the significant technical challenges of providing seamless Internet from orbit, but the company now has two significant advantages over its competitors — plenty of operational experience in space from satellites, and a peerless, low-cost, reusable rocket.

    It is possible that SpaceX will launch a third batch of Starlink satellites at the very end of this month.


    The company also made great progress on developing its interplanetary Starship vehicle in (**************************************************************************************. It flew a six-story-tall prototype, (Starhopper, twice, with the second flight rising to meters before touching Down at its launch site near Boca Chica Beach.

    Musk also unveiled a full-scale Starship prototype in September, which it (subsequently lostin November during a pressurization test of the vehicle’s fuel tanks.

    However, the actual construction of a Starship upper stage for the Super Heavy rocket provided the company, with its iterative design philosophy, invaluable experience. This should serve it well at SpaceX pushes forward with development of Starship prototypes that will be able to make suborbital and then orbital flights — perhaps as early as (*************************************************************************************. ************

    To make this happen the company engineers had to tackle several huge hurdles in 2019, including finalizing development of, and accelerating production of the Raptor rocket engine that will power both the Starship and Super Heavy vehicles.According to Musk, the company is ready to ship its 18 th Raptor engine to McGregor for testing this week.

    Monday’s launch

    Weather conditions appear to be favorable for Monday’s launch attempt of the JCSAT – 17 / Kacific1 commercial satellite from Space Launch Complex in Florida. The launch window opens at 7: (PM ET) (********************************************************************************************************************************: UTC Tuesday , and closes at 8: (PM ET) 08: A backup launch window is available on Tuesday, opening at the same time.

    This particular first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket has flown twice, in May, (***************************************************************************************, and July, ************************************************************************************, on supply missions for the International Space Station. SpaceX will attempt to recover the stage after the launch of the heavy, geostationary-orbit-bound satellite on the (Of Course I Still Love You

    The webcast below should go live about 15 minutes before the launch attempt.

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