Ten Iridium satellites launched successfully by Falcon 9 but fairing parafoil recovery fails again

by | Apr 1, 2018 | Launches, Satellites, Seradata News, SpaceX

At 1413 GMT on 30 March, a Falcon 9 v1.2 Block 4 rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg launch site in California carrying 10 Iridium NEXT satellites for the Iridium Communications firm which are in the process of replacing the original Iridium constellation satellites.  The flight was the fifth Falcon 9 launch for Irdium out of eight planned.

Fifth Falcon 9 launch of Iridium NEXT satellites. Courtesy: SpaceX

After an initial parking orbit and a circularisation burn to circularise the orbit, all ten spacecraft were sequentially released as planned.  This could not be viewed due to an apparent licencing issue with the NOAA which prevented “imaging” from the second stage.

The Block 4 first stage B1041 with legs was a reused example, having previously been flown and been landed on an earlier flight. However, despite it having legs, there was no attempt to reland this version and it splashed down into the Pacific after a simulated fly back trajectory was made for research purposes. Later Block 5 first stages will attempt to be reused upto ten times.

There was however, another attempt to recover one of the two “clamshell” fairing pieces using attitude thrusters and a radio controlled parafoil/parachute system and a boat called Mr Stevel with a recovery net aboard it.  In the end, the attempt failed again, this time because the parafoil failed to deploy properly (it was left in a twist) due to an interaction with the fairing itself.  The fairing was later recovered from the ocean.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

SpaceX Dragon CRS-25 undocks and returns off the coast of Florida

SpaceX's Dragon CRS-25 successfully undocked from the forward port of the Harmony module of the International Space Station (ISS) at Read more

SpaceX adds 53 Starlink Group 4-27 satellites to its launch tally

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, USA at 1921 GMT on 19 August. The vehicle was carrying Starlink Read more

SpaceX Starship chosen to launch Sky Perfect JSAT satellite in 2024

While others have launch options, Japanese satellite operator Sky Perfect JSAT Corporation has become the first to formally select SpaceX’s Read more

SpaceX launches 46 Starlink Group 3-3 satellites

SpaceX successfully launched 46 Starlink satellites onboard a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, at 2140 GMT on Read more

Space “carpooling”: NASA smallsats to hitch a ride with SPHEREx

NASA has announced that its Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) mission will join the SPHEREx satellite on Read more

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches 46 Starlink Group 3-1 satellites successfully

Amid foggy weather a Falcon 9 carrying 46 Starlink satellites (Starlink v1.5 Group 3-1) was successfully launched by SpaceX from Read more

SpaceX successfully completes 50th Starlink launch on Falcon 9

A Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 rocket carrying 53 Group 4-21 Starlink satellites has been successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, USA Read more

SpaceX launches C-band telecomms satellite SES-22

At  2104 GMT on 29 June, a SpaceX Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 rocket was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, USA. Read more