Another SpaceX Launch – Most Complicated Satellite Deploy Evah!


Tonight at 11:30 Eastern, the launch window opens for yet another Falcon Heavy launch from SpaceX, reusing side boosters from the April 2019 Arabsat 6a Falcon Heavy launch. The turnaround time – 73 days from that April 11 launch – is impressive, to put it mildly. They’re on their game.

After the launch, the boosters should land (in unison!) and the center rocket will hopefully touch down on the offshore drone ship. Watching the boosters begin to descend, burn, drift, turn, burn, drift, etc. is just amazing.  It never gets old watching it happen for each new launch. And of course the final landings – solo or couple, land or sea – are just a nailbiter every time.

This will be an ambitious, complicated launch of a number of classified satellites and is a “demo tape” to gain a bunch more US military contracts. I expect their experience with the recent Starlink launch to deploy a host of satellites will inform their approach, but as Elon Musk has called this the most risky launch they’ve done, there’s a not-inconsiderable chance of spectacular failure.

Should be fun. I’ll be asleep hopefully but will watch the recording tomorrow morning and be able to FFWD through much of the slow time. I wish I was a Mountain Time/West Coaster or the night owl I was in my 20’s for such events.



Enjoy, night shift, and open thread!

26 replies
  1. 1
    Redshift says:

    That’s where I am! I doubt any of my photos of the launch will come out (too much contrast, and I don’t really want to pay attention to my phone instead of watching), but I’ll send some from this afternoon..

  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    Hm. “Classified satellites” opens the question of nuclear material* on board, in one or more of those.

    *Want to be perfectly clear that am not talking about nuclear weaponry.

  3. 3
    Yutsano says:

    It’s 2051. Where’s my infinite SPAAAACE???

  4. 4
    Kent says:

    It is too easy to get blasé about this sort of thing. But the technology at the extreme edge of the scientific frontier is really amazing. Sometimes you just have to stand back in awe.

  5. 5

    @NotMax: Classified satellites means the client is one of the 3 lettered agencies.

  6. 6
    mrmoshpotato says:


    Classified satellites means the client is one of the 3 lettered agencies.

    Which agency – is classified.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:


    Doesn’t abrogate my comment. Could also be U.S. military. Could also be a non-U.S. agency.

  8. 8
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @NotMax: It’s the Canadians. Even when it was the bears, I knew it was the Canadians

  9. 9
    NotMax says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist

    “HOSER-1 has achieved optimal orbit, eh.”


  10. 10
    bruins01 says:

    I think you mean 11:30 Pacific. It will be at 2:30 Eastern according to this:

    Not to mention 11:30 Eastern has already passed at the time of this post…

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @bruins01: Mere details. Hardly germane to the post.

  12. 12

    @NotMax: No, your comment is possible, I could also win the lottery on Wednesday.

    ETA: The tin foil hat looks really good on you.
    ETA2: Military would be a 3 letter agency(DIA).

  13. 13
    NotMax says:


    Just raising a hypothetical, not positing a conspiracy.

    BTW, the hats come in 7 decorator colors now. ;)

  14. 14
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: If it were military, would it not be Space Force?

  15. 15

    @Omnes Omnibus: You’re on fire tonight, Omnes. I don’t think the Space Force exists yet(though it might, and just be classified).

  16. 16


    BTW, the hats come in 7 decorator colors now. ;)

    I know, remember I know Mnemo.

  17. 17
    Mary G says:

    AOC is joined by Kevin Drum:

    "On this one, I’m with AOC. Her politics aren’t entirely mine, but her instinctive understanding of how to deal with people like Trump is unrivaled."— Kevin Drum (@kdrum) June 25, 2019

    The appalling part of this, of course, is that it requires us to grit our teeth and allow Republicans to continue their usual callous treatment of the weak unless they agree to spend the money the way it’s supposed to be spent. But there’s no choice. McConnell and Trump are counting on bleeding-heart liberals to be patsies. They have to learn that we won’t be.


  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    I don’t think the Space Force exists yet

    That’s what they want you to think.

    (though it might, and just be classified)

    Now you’re getting it.

  19. 19
    mrmoshpotato says:

    “And that was when they launched Oprah into space to give everyone a satellite.”

  20. 20
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I suspect Trump thinks of Space Force as something vaguely resembling Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

  21. 21
    cope says:

    Got up to snap some pictures. I usually do a time lapse but thought I would try something else and shot on continuous with maximum zoom and pre-set shutter speed and aperture. I can’t over-ride the freakin’ autofocus so that aspect of the pictures is hit and miss. There were several with the waning quarter Moon but the autofocus turned them into a blurry Moon and a blurry rocket. I need to upgrade my camera.

    I am 40 miles or more away from 39-A but actually heard the sonic booms of the landing side boosters a couple of minutes after they landed. I put up one of the images on my website. You can take a look at the link below, just scroll to the bottom of the page for tonight’s image.


  22. 22
    hervevillechaizelounge says:

    @Mary G: I had an AOC epiphany today—we need to own this. Why are we always sniveling? Everyone who understands history knows the difference between a concentration camp and an extermination camp.

    We need to turn this shit around like the republicans always do:

    “You take exception to AOC using the term ‘concentration camp?’ Why do you hate free speech?”

    “Why are you trying to police AOC’s language. Is it a sexist thing? Why do you hate women?”

    “I’ll gladly discuss AOC’s word selection after every last republican is called into account for the racial invective of Steve King (R, Berchtesgaden). Don’t worry, I can wait.”

    Arguing in good faith with someone who is arguing in bad faith is stupid and pointless. We need to stop playing semantic games.

    Fuck the media. And while I’m dropping F-bombs, fuck the DNC for choosing Chuck fucking Todd to host the debates. Self-own much? His wife made a million dollars off Bernie’s campaign but I’m sure he’ll be equally tough on everyone……

  23. 23

    @cope: “Not much but it’s mine…” I say that more often than folk think. It’s a pretty good shot. I got to see stage separation at dusk when they launched from Vandenburg, it’s really something else, even though I was over 100 miles away.

  24. 24
    David Evans says:

    @cope: Those are good shots. I agree, autofocus can be hell on small, distant subjects. I’m surprised you don’t have manual focus, most cameras do. Though that can also be tricky on those subjects.

    I remember fondly my old film SLR where the lens had an engraved distance scale, and when you wanted to photograph a distant airplane you just set it to infinity. It didn’t have a 35x zoom though. Can’t have everything.

  25. 25

    […] Folks, Tonight at 11:30 Eastern, the launch window opens for yet another Falcon Heavy launch from SpaceX, reusing side boosters from the April … Source :… […]

  26. 26
    Alain says:

    @bruins01: I think I was accurate – the launch window opened at 11:30, as I wrote. Additionally, from the timestamp on the first comment, it appears that my post published before 11:30 Eastern, even if it did publish after the 11:15 scheduled-publish-time.

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