July 20th Anasis-II Korean Satellite launch
5:30 PM EST From SLC-40 at Canaveral Air Force Station atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
A blistering hot summer day at Cape Canaveral let to some more scorching records for SpaceX during the launch of South Korea's first dedicated military satellite, Anasis-II. Before we talk about the feats of SpaceX lets discuss what little we know about the launch payload. South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration contracted with Lockheed Martin for the satellite as part of a package for the F-35A combat aircraft made by Lockheed Martin. The 7 billion dollar deal obligated Lockheed Martin to procure the satellite for South Korea. The satellite itself was constructed by a subcontractor of Lockheed Martin named Airbus Defense and Space. After completion the satellite was shipped from Toulouse, France where Airbus has their factory to Cape Canaveral on June 8th of this year. Due to the classified nature of this launch we do not know much of the satellite including its exact weight, but the spacecraft is based on the Airbus Eurostar E3000 satellite bus which ranges from 4,500 kg to 6,600 kg.
For the 12 launch for the company of the year and the 90th overall launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9, a goal they've been chasing for some time now, a double fairing catch has been achieved. SpaceX has been all about reusability with their space launch systems and while a few fairings have been caught by their boat GO MS Tree, this was the first catch for the sister boat GO MS Chief, and the first time both were able to successfully catch a fairing half on the same mission. If you are unclear what I am speaking about, the fairings are the nose cone pieces of the rocket that hold the payload. They come apart to deploy the payload and the fall back to earth eventually relaying on parachutes to slow their rate of descent. The boats have large nets above them used in attempts to catch the fairing halves before they splash down in the Atlantic Ocean. Each half of the fairing costs and estimated 5 million dollars, and salt water and electronics don't tend to mix so any caught fairing can save the company large amounts of time and money. If the fairings aren't caught they splash down into the ocean and are still recovered, and a few that have hit the water have been re-flown, but SpaceX would like to reduce risk to their systems as much as possible one would imagine.
One of the fairing recovery boats departing Port Canaveral
The other accomplishment for SpaceX today is they have just broken the record for shortest turn around time of an orbital rocket. Just 51 days ago this first stage booster, 1058 took astronauts Doug Hurley, and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station during the DM-2 launch which returned crewed space flight the American soil. Previously the record was held by Space Shuttle Atlantis between it's first two missions, STS-51-J and STS 61-B and stood at 54 days, 9 hours and 14 minutes.
The 45th Space Wing forecasted weather conditions to be 70% GO for launch, and after a brief half hour delay the rocket soared into the history books at 5:30 pm EST. Just two minutes and thirty two seconds after liftoff the stages of the rocket separated and the first stage booster began it's descent back to Earth while the second stage uses its Merlin Vacuum engine to further propel the payload into its desired orbit. At eight minutes and thirty one seconds after launch the first stage booster 1058 touched down offshore of the Atlantic Ocean on the SpaceX drone ship "Just Read The Instructions"