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Discussion: another starlink-9 launch attempt tonight

in: Becks; Becks > 2020-08-05

Aug 6, 2020 11:05 PM # 
Look like they will make yet another attempt to launch the starlink-9 group tonight (actually 1:12 AM EDT tomorrow, Fri morning). Weather is 70%. If they scrub they'll try again early Sat morning, weather 80%. Livestream at the usual place:

As usual, the starlink launch path is right up the east coast. It should be visible with a low enough SE horizon, but it will only be visible during the 8 or so minutes after launch while the engines are burning. It will be in shadow the whole way up. This entire group of sats will be equipped with the new sunshades, so best bet for seeing them is early during orbit raising. We have opportunities in the early mornings, although the passes are all low. Tomorrow we'll get a look at them after the first orbit, with a short pass exiting shadow at 2:57 AM. Weather looks sketchy though. Here's the ground track map of the first two orbits starting at 1:12 AM EDT Fri Aug 7:

Visibility is better farther NE into New England. Pass predicts for Boston/N.E. are at this link:
Aug 6, 2020 11:28 PM # 
Also tonight, Astra Aerospace, a new smallsat startup from California, will make an orbital launch attempt from Kodiak Island Alaska. Astra 3.1 is set to launch during a 7-9 PM PDT window. They may or may not have a livestream, but they should be providing updates on this twitter account:
Aug 7, 2020 3:01 AM # 
Astra launch just scrubbed due to a problem with the water deluge system on the pad. They'll try again tomorrow.

In other news, SpaceX made a successful 150m hop with its prototype starship SN5 test article at Boca Chica on Tues. There's a nice youtube video of the hop here. There were some spectacular explosions of earlier test items this spring. Nice to see it actually fly, although it looks like someone's grain silo flew the coop! The engine used here is the new Raptor, which burns methane rather than kerosene.
Aug 7, 2020 5:30 AM # 
Interesting that the poofs from the cold N2 thrusters on the 1st stage during re-entry were visible on the video. Lights on the 1st stage or moonlight? I suspect it was the moon, which is just past full. The sky was pretty bright in the droneship video. Will be interesting to see if the moonlit launch plume is visible in photos from the ground.

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