The second release date of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy could slip and it's fine



The first variant of Block 5 of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket was launched on the Launch Pad 39A for an inaugural launch that could occur as early as April 7. However, minor delays are extremely likely for the second Falcon Heavy launch attempt, and the most likely dates approach April 8-11.

With a noticeably different appearance from Falcon 9 Block 5is that On the outside, Falcon Heavy and its all-new reinforcements still sport the same polished white skin and part of the black felt thermal protection that helps make the enhanced reinforcements so reusable. That reuse will be tested to the extreme two months after the launch, baduming all goes well, with the STP-2 mission of the US Air Force. UU., Ready to reuse the lateral reinforcements of Falcon Heavy Flight 2, B1052 Y B1053

Above all, it must be taken into account that the probability that the actual launch date of the Falcon Heavy Flight 2 will slip does not mean that the rocket or ground support equipment (GSE) has technical or operational problems. Rather, it is simply a dose of pragmatism for a launch date that was originally approved in the range along with a static fire on March 31. In other words, SpaceX was anticipating the need of approximately seven days between the static launch and the launch, a fairly credible goal in relation to the first Falcon Heavy release flow.

Meanwhile, in KSC … ..

Falcon Heavy is approaching.

* PRELIMINARY * (The dates are "PENDING", but now in the range):
Static fire: NET March 31.
Released: NET: April 7 – Window: 22:36 UTC at 00:35 UTC.
39A T / E Rollback is the next milestone.@TheFavoritisticonic photo of pic.twitter.com/Z7KSVwznKT

– Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) March 20, 2019

Even if SpaceX completes an impeccable Falcon Heavy static fire immediately after the 6 pm EDT window opens, this would give the company's engineers and technicians less than 72 hours to activate the rocket and launch it as soon as possible. : 36 pm EDT on April 7. That process involves a lot of work, including real static fire, safely detanking (remove the propellant), return to the hangar of the Pad 39A, install the fairing of the payload, guarantee the state of the payload, return to the platform and integrate the conveyor with the launch support. Throughout the process, many double checks and verifications are carried out to ensure that everything is ready for the flight.

Completing safely that job in ~ 72 hours is extremely difficult for Falcon 9, let alone for a significantly modified Falcon Heavy, preparing for the second launch attempt of the vehicle. For reference, excluding some atypical releases, the average time of Falcon 9 Block 5 between the static launch and the launch is ~ 4.7 days, while the mode is 5 days (6/10 launches). Outliers include missions such as SSO-A, DM-1 and GPS III SV01, all of which require unique care and caution for several reasons. There is a good chance that Falcon Heavy Flight 2 will improve flight 1, which took several days to complete a static fire and 13 more days before a launch attempt. Still, the rocket is very unlikely to exceed the average launch time of Falcon 9 Block 5.

Falcon Heavy prepares for its inaugural launch, February 2018. (SpaceX)

All in good weather

There is likely to be a 5% chance that Falcon Heavy will be launched on April 7, even if the static fire occurs on time and shows that all systems are green. If SpaceX can not place a static fire in the window of April 4, it is likely to fall to 0%. Either way, we can expect SpaceX to provide an updated launch window or a rough estimate as early as today, especially if the static fire test is completed successfully.

Meanwhile, drone ship. Of course I Still Love You (OCISLY), accompanied by a tugboat, is heading for almost 1000 km (620 miles) to the Atlantic Ocean to prepare for the attempt to recover the central core of Falcon Heavy. In other words, it's probably the fastest and farthest a SpaceX driver has ever traveled while attempting to land. The launching of the launch of Just Falcon Heavy, both lateral reinforcements will try to land in landing zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) between 8 and 10 minutes after takeoff. The Arabsat 6A satellite built by Lockheed Martin of 6000 kg (~ 13,200 pounds) will be the first commercial payload of the rocket, which is likely to be directed to a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit.

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