We had another successful SpaceX launch this morning. In fact, as I begin typing this, the second stage and the payload, JCSAT-16, have yet to leave their parking orbit – we are still about 5 minutes away from the second engine burn that will put the satellite on course for a geostationary orbit!
This launch, basically identical to the JCSAT-14 launch I covered a few months ago, was to play a communications satellite into orbit to increase communications capabilities over East Asia, primarily for Japan but for other uses as well. While the 15th satellite in this series was launched on a European Arriane 5 booster (and was a launch I missed) I caught this one early this morning and, once again, did a live tweet of it. I’m sure that annoyed some twitter followers but eh, that’s the price they pay for me caring as much as I do about space.
In any case, the launch and flight of the Falcon 9 was perfect, as it almost always seems to be. During the launch I was drawing many comparisons to it and the old Saturn boosters of the Apollo program… perhaps that’s a good article for another day.
Of course, like most SpaceX launches these days, one of the goals was the landing of the 1st stage on a drone ship, and ignoring the fact that the signal was lost during the landing, it was perfect! A night landing of a rocket stage automatically on a remote controlled drone ship in the Atlantic ocean a few hundred miles from the launch pad – that never stops being amazing!
What else is amazing are the views after the 2nd burn to put the payload into its proper orbit. Just seeing the earth drifting down there is always a treat, and worth waiting till the end of the livestream for.
That being said, here of course, as always, are the livestream videos for you to enjoy, both the hosted and “technical” broadcasts. The tech broadcast is here now, the hosted one will be added when ready to go on YouTube.