SpaceX to Launch Its Most Expensive Payload Ever from Vandenberg AFB on top of a Falcon 9

Ladies and Gentleman set your alarm for 7:17 a.m. PDT on June 12, 2019. Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX will launch three earth observing satellites on early Wednesday morning.

These satellites were built by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The Radarsat Constellation will fly in a Sun-synchronous low Earth orbit with an orbit taking about 96 minutes.

The satellites will be used for maritime surveillance like ship detection, ice monitoring and water pollution (for example oil spills). But instead of me writing a long text, just watch the CSA’s official video about RADARSAT.

The launch window is now set for Wednesday morning. Liftoff will be from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base with a 13-minute launch window. This will be the second flight of the first stage booster B1051 with its first flight being the Demo 1 mission for Crew Dragon on March 2nd, 2019.

After the separation of the first stage, a boost-back burn will occur and SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage at Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) at Vandenberg Air Force Base. LZ-4 is built atop the former Space Launch Complex 4W from which Titan rockets were previously launched. Be aware that if you are in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County, you might hear the sonic boom during the landing attempt of the first stage. People within Santa Barbara are most likely to hear the sonic boom, even though this is depending on a lot of factors like the weather. This is normal and nothing to worry about and no it doesn’t mean the rocket did explode ;).

So far SpaceX has overall landed 14 first stage boosters on land. If everything goes well, RADARSAT will be number 15. In addition to the land landings, SpaceX has successfully recovered first stages from 26 missions at sea with their Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships.

Here a few pre-launch photos from Tuesday evening. Falcon 9 is healthy and waiting for its launch window to open in the morning. We got escorted to two different locations for remote camera setup and photo opportunities. The gallery will be updated after lift-off.


They (SpaceX) said it’s ok!

Post Launch Update Radarsat Constellation Mission

It was a bad time of the day to watch a rocket launch. The whole coastline was covered in dense fog. We met at 6 a.m. to leave towards the launch viewing area and hoped that the fog would burn off, at least partially. But the opposite happened it looked like the fog got denser. We had no view of the rocket at all, but we could at least hear it very well. Not even the bright light of the 9 Merlin engines propelling the rocket towards space was visible. On the contrary, it was an on-time lift-off.

View of the “launch pad” just before the launch window opened.

From the returning first stage booster we did only hear the sonic boom shortly before landing, but not even the booster was visible. About two hours later the fog cleared up in the higher areas.