Space transport roundup – June.24.2019

The Falcon Heavy mission and the Soyuz return are the focus points of today’s roundup:

** SpaceX:

*** The countdown is proceeding for the Falcon Heavy liftoff tonight for the complex STP-2 mission. The four hour launch window opens at 11:30 pm EDT (0330 GMT on 25th). The weather forecast shows an 80% chance of acceptable conditions for launch during the window.

The SpaceX webcast will begin about 20 minutes before the liftoff time. NASA TV coverage will start at 11:00 pm EDT.

Updates to check as the window approaches:

The mission events time line is given in the SpaceX Press Kit (pdf). SpaceX will attempt to recover all 3 boosters:

Falcon Heavy’s side boosters for the STP-2 mission previously supported the Arabsat-6A mission in April 2019. Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Falcon Heavy’s center core will attempt to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

There is also a ship sent to capture in a net and/or drag from the sea the two fairing halves of the nosecone.

Liftoff through final deployment will span over 3.5 hours and include 3 in-orbit firings of the second stage engine.

The STP-2 mission will use a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle to perform 20 commanded deployment actions and place 24 separate spacecraft in three different orbits. The spacecraft include the Air Force Research Laboratory Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) satellite; the NOAA-sponsored Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC-2) constellation; four NASA experiments; and many other missions.

After about 7 hours, the second stage will be “passivated”, which includes dumping any remaining fuel to avoid any chance the stage would explode and increase debris in low earth orbit. Eventually the stage will de-orbit into the atmosphere.

Some photos of the FH on the pad:

More about the mission:

The Planetary Society is closely following the launch since it includes the deployment of the LightSail-2 mission inside  Georgia Tech’s Prox-1 smallsat:

Here’s a video update from the Cape by Chris Gebhardt of

** A Soyuz capsule is set to return with three ISS Expedition 59 crew members today: Departing Trio Aboard Soyuz Crew Ship Awaiting Undocking – Space Station

At 4:15 p.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. NASA Flight Engineer Anne McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Konenenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 7:25 p.m.

The landing is set for just over 40 minutes before the FH liftoff window opens:

Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 10:48 p.m. and will conclude a more than six month mission conducting science and maintenance aboard the space station, in which they circled the globe 3,264 times, covering 86.4 million miles.

The latest on the undocking and return:


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