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!

Late Night Clown Shoes Open Thread: To the… MARS, Alice!

They could have blamed it on jet lag (or TBH on having to behave like some approximation of a grown-up for a whole three days in a row), but that would’ve implied their Dear Leader was susceptible to the weaknesses of mere mortals…

At a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council last week, William H. Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said that it was unlikely that appropriators in Congress would agree to provide all the money needed for a 2024 moon landing, and that the agency would likely have to cut the budgets for other areas of the space agency.

Hours after the tweet was sent, a White House official attempted to clarify Mr. Trump’s meaning, saying that the administration’s space goals were unchanged. The official added that by seeking additional resources for a journey to the moon within the next five years, the Trump administration intended to accelerate a crewed American visit to Mars…

Late Night Thieves’ Paradise Open Thread: SPACE PIRATES!!!

There’s a joke to be made that Ted Cruz might possibly be a space alien in a badly-designed human suit, but seriously: even TV Tropes doesn’t take ‘Space Pirates’ seriously.

Of course, Raphael ‘Ted’ Cruz is taking the resulting online abuse predictably:

Presumably related, somehow, to Cruz’s new boogeymonsters (note Rep. Johnson’s home state):

“Education – feh! SPACE PIRATES, pew pew pew!”

Friday Morning Open Thread: How Far We’ve Come

Whatever else you might say about the illo, grant CNN this: They cannot be accused of artificially darkening Senator Harris’ complexion!

The CNN town halls are co-hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College and the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. The presidential hopefuls will field questions directly from students and young New Hampshire Democrats, said a CNN spokeswoman, who added the audience will be drawn from the two schools and a pool of young Democrats living in the state.

On April 22, Chris Cuomo will moderate the Klobuchar (7 p.m. ET) and Sanders (9 p.m. ET) town halls, Anderson Cooper will moderate the Warren (8 p.m. ET) and Buttigieg (11 p.m. ET) town halls, and Don Lemon will moderate the Harris (10 p.m. ET) town hall.

The CNN town halls will take place on the campus of Saint Anselm College, and coincide with the release of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School’s new national poll of young voters…

Elsewhere in the twitterverse:

And finally, important news update: Julian Assange’s former cat has been safely re-homed. (Yes, I too thought this had been settled months ago.)

Up, Up, and Away – and Down, Down, Down!


Barring more upper-atmosphere wind issues that postponed yesterday’s launch, between 6:35 and 8:31 pm Eastern today, Space X will launch their first commercial Falcon Heavy Flight. Should be exciting!

Perhaps most exciting is their attempt to land three boosters simultaneously, two on the pad on terra firma and one on a autonomous drone ship. I’m hoping for an exceptional show.



URL is


This video should go live approx 20 minutes before launch.

This really is a week for space. Yesterday’s amazing release of the first picture of a black hole and today’s earlier crash-landing on the moon by Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft will make this week one for the history books. Let’s hope the launch tonight isn’t postponed and is perfect. Fingers crossed!