SpaceX continues rocket fleet shuffle as Falcon 9 arrives for subsequent CA launch

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Strengthening the chances that SpaceX’s first Block 5 rocket will quickly grow to be the primary Falcon 9 to launch thrice, a SpaceX booster arrived at Vandenberg Air Pressure Base (VAFB) on 10/25 forward of Spaceflight Business’s SSO-A rideshare mission, scheduled for launch no sooner than November 19th.

Notably, a flurry of spottings posted on social media affords a singular glimpse into the main logistical infrastructure SpaceX has constructed up over years of transporting large Falcon rockets throughout the continental US.

Barely 24 hours after SpaceX efficiently launched SAOCOM 1A, a Falcon 9 higher stage was seen touring north just some miles away from Vandenberg, losing no time in any respect to fill the momentarily empty SLC-Four integration hangar. Two weeks after the second stage arrived, a Falcon 9 booster was noticed heading via Santa Maria in direction of VAFB, roughly on schedule for SSO-A’s focused Nov 19 launch date.

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Touring from Hawthorne, CA, the identification of this explicit booster is very ambiguous. Attributable to an absence of on-base house at SpaceX’s Vandenberg services, there merely isn’t sufficient room for a number of boosters to be labored on within the SLC-Four hangar, that means that the arrival of 1 rocket necessitates the departure of one other. After touchdown for the primary time at SpaceX’s West Coast LZ-Four, Falcon 9 B1048 appears to have remained on the launch pad (assuming it didn’t handle to depart with out being noticed). As such, the arrival of a booster on Oct 25 is agency proof that B1048 is both not going to launch SSO-A or was refurbished at SpaceX’s Hawthorne manufacturing facility a couple of hundred miles south of VAFB.

Neither final result could be stunning: to be prepared in time to launch SSO-A, B1048 would have had barely 5 weeks to go from touchdown at LZ-Four after its second flight to being prepared for the rocket’s third flight. Based on COO and President Gwynne Shotwell, Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters have apparently lowered the period of time wanted for post-launch refurbishment to 4 weeks – presumably the minimal worth in the interim. On the alternative coast, the primary Falcon 9 Block 5 booster to be constructed and launched – B1046 – accomplished its second profitable mission on August 7, leaving a relatively luxurious three months for refurbishment and flight readiness overview.

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Whether or not B1046 or B1048 rolls out of SpaceX’s Vandenberg hangar subsequent month, the truth that a Falcon 9 booster was deemed prepared for its third launch in any respect might be an enormous achievement for the corporate and its final objective of realizing aircraft-like reusability for orbital-class rockets.

SpaceX’s Vandenberg launch complicated (SLC-Four) and Falcon 9 B1048.2, October 6. (Eric Ralph)

It’s raining rockets!

Together with the Falcon 9 booster that arrived at Vandenberg late final week, the sheer variety of SpaceX rockets photographed mid-transport within the final week alone is – from a public perspective – fairly presumably a file. The identical night time as that thriller booster arrived at SpaceX’s West Coast launch website, SpaceX introduced that it had accomplished a static fireplace of Falcon 9 B1051 – assigned to Crew Dragon’s uncrewed launch debut – in McGregor, Texas. On October 28, a SpaceX fan noticed a separate Falcon 9 booster heading east via Arizona, both a brand new booster being shipped from Hawthorne to Texas or B1048 on its option to Texas or Florida for refurbishment and launch #three.

A Falcon 9 booster was noticed east of McGregor on Oct 30, headed to Florida. (Instagram @ldm9132)

Lastly, yet one more Falcon 9 was noticed eastbound a couple of miles east of SpaceX’s McGregor rocket take a look at services on October 30. Whereas probably the identical booster noticed in Arizona on the 28th, the stressed tempo of SpaceX’s cross-country transport virtually defies the monitoring talents of these watching from the skin.


For immediate updates, on-the-ground views, and distinctive glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket restoration fleet take a look at our model new LaunchPad and LandingZone newsletters!

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