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    Big Day for SpaceX

    The stakes have never been higher for Elon Musk's SpaceX. On Wednesday, the company will attempt to launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in a mission called Demo-2.

    It will mark the first time in history that a commercial aerospace company has carried humans into Earth's orbit. NASA and space fans have waited nearly a decade for this milestone, which will usher in the return of human spaceflight to US soil.
    The launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft is moving forward despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which has shuttered both private and government operations across the US. NASA says it must carry on with the mission in order to keep the International Space Station, a giant orbiting laboratory, fully staffed with US astronauts.


    Lift of planned for 4:33 pt ET
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    phah! This is why Londoners are not astronomers

    My local sunset time is 21:03
    The international space station flies over me at 21:23 close to overhead (a little south), so I have had sunset but it will still be lit by the sun, absolutely perfect timings for the most spectacular clear view by naked eye, the solar panels reflect like 2 headlights, it's as bright as landing lights on a 747 it's also obvious so you can't misidentify it. Then about 20 minutes later Dragon flies over on pretty much the same track, it should also catch sun and be obvious to naked eye, it is a gift, a lifetime chance, perfect time perfect place to give me the ideal display of both.

    But it will be cloudy, so all this is going to have to be in my imagination

    Edit: plan to watch launch on TV though
    Last edited by OldFartTom; 05-27-2020 at 06:16 AM.
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    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    I'm pretty much worthless today. This is taking most of my attention.
    I'm out, standing in my field.

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    In Witness Protection mtpockets's Avatar
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    I will be watching. Thanks for taking time out from your rabbit trapping and posting, MT.
    Helping one person may not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.

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    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    Actually... It's unexpectedly clear(ish) I just might get to see it after all Fingers crossed! 20 minutes until space station due to pass over my head, which is first bill on the entertainment
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    In Witness Protection mtpockets's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ElrondHubbard View Post
    I'm pretty much worthless today. This is taking most of my attention.
    LOL I was expecting you to chime in.

    Originally Posted by Mark1T View Post
    I will be watching. Thanks for taking time out from your rabbit trapping and posting, MT.
    ha ha Mark, the Rabbits are safe till October


    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    Actually... It's unexpectedly clear(ish) I just might get to see it after all Fingers crossed! 20 minutes until space station due to pass over my head, which is first bill on the entertainment
    Good luck with that tom
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    In Witness Protection mtpockets's Avatar
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    Scrubbed for Weather
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    Originally Posted by mtpockets View Post
    Scrubbed for Weather
    Just heard. Hope for tomorrow.
    Helping one person may not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.

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    Originally Posted by Mark1T View Post
    Just heard. Hope for tomorrow.
    Saturday 3:22 Pm I heard
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    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    Next launch opportunity is Saturday.
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    Originally Posted by mtpockets View Post
    Saturday 3:22 Pm I heard
    And why I am not an astronaut.
    Helping one person may not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.

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    Not sure it's dark enough to see ISS, get a second pass 90 mins later which might be at correct angle to catch sun and be visible. Shame no dragon to look for tonight

    Edit: didn't see it, maybe at next pass in about 90 minutes if it doesn't cloud up more. Around 22:55 to 23:00 if you're in Southern England

    Edit2: can see ISS going over now, not spectacular though not that bright this time. Like a small plane very high up, but look closely and it's a cluster of white lights and tracks very slowly across sky taking 4 minutes or so. No dragon chasing it
    Last edited by OldFartTom; 05-27-2020 at 03:02 PM.
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    In Witness Protection mtpockets's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Mark1T View Post
    And why I am not an astronaut.
    I thought I was going to be an astronaut, the teachers kept telling me I was taking up space in school.
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    Confirmed: next window is 15:22 EDT Saturday.

    Fallback plan for Sunday if needed

    Edit: just looking at numbers and thinking of the moon. SpaceX Falcon9 can lift 22,800Kg (50,300lbs) to low earth but only 8,300Kg (18,300lbs) to geostationary transfer orbit. The service module (for lunar mission) weighs 13 tonnes (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52782479). How do they plan to put it up there? Even Falcon9 heavy is going to struggle. SaturnV could lift way heavier with a Trans Lunar Injection (going to the moon) loading of 48,600Kg (107,100lbs). They'll have to do everything so much lighter this time. Hope they can persuade Tom Hanks to give it a go again, liked that documentary of his last attempt
    Last edited by OldFartTom; 05-27-2020 at 11:38 PM.
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    Confirmed: next window is 15:22 EDT Saturday.

    Fallback plan for Sunday if needed

    Edit: just looking at numbers and thinking of the moon. SpaceX Falcon9 can lift 22,800Kg (50,300lbs) to low earth but only 8,300Kg (18,300lbs) to geostationary transfer orbit. The service module (for lunar mission) weighs 13 tonnes (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52782479). How do they plan to put it up there? Even Falcon9 heavy is going to struggle. SaturnV could lift way heavier with a Trans Lunar Injection (going to the moon) loading of 48,600Kg (107,100lbs). They'll have to do everything so much lighter this time. Hope they can persuade Tom Hanks to give it a go again, liked that documentary of his last attempt
    The Falcon rocket family is not designed to send humans to the Moon. And the SLS/Orion system is simply an unmitigated disaster. NASA would have been far better off simply re-constituting the Saturn V. But SLS wasn't really designed to send astronauts to the Moon either. It's designed to send pork to contractors in multiple states. The fact that it's way behind schedule and way over budget is not a problem for that design, it's a feature.

    I'm pretty sure that when humans do make it to the Moon in any kind of useful capacity, they're going to be riding on a SpaceX Starship. It'll get about 100-150 tons to low Earth orbit, and then get refueled in orbit to send that full weight to the Moon. It'll end up having 4 times the lunar payload of the Saturn V, for a fraction of the price, and still be completely reusable. And it'll probably be ready well before the SLS as well.
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    Not sure it's dark enough to see ISS, get a second pass 90 mins later which might be at correct angle to catch sun and be visible. Shame no dragon to look for tonight

    Edit: didn't see it, maybe at next pass in about 90 minutes if it doesn't cloud up more. Around 22:55 to 23:00 if you're in Southern England

    Edit2: can see ISS going over now, not spectacular though not that bright this time. Like a small plane very high up, but look closely and it's a cluster of white lights and tracks very slowly across sky taking 4 minutes or so. No dragon chasing it
    Back in late 2002 I was hiking in the Grand Canyon, and in camp that night got to see the ISS going overhead with the Space Shuttle following a couple of seconds behind. That was the mission immediately preceding the final Columbia launch, I think.

    A couple of times since then I've been out in the back yard with my telescope and seen the ISS pass overhead. With practice and good timing I can follow it through the telescope at low power for a few seconds. I've been able to make out the solar panels and a couple of the modules. Those events are pretty special.
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    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ElrondHubbard View Post
    Back in late 2002 I was hiking in the Grand Canyon, and in camp that night got to see the ISS going overhead with the Space Shuttle following a couple of seconds behind. That was the mission immediately preceding the final Columbia launch, I think.

    A couple of times since then I've been out in the back yard with my telescope and seen the ISS pass overhead. With practice and good timing I can follow it through the telescope at low power for a few seconds. I've been able to make out the solar panels and a couple of the modules. Those events are pretty special.
    Wow, both sound spectacular,
    The shuttle is so much smaller than ISS with all its panels, what did it look like with naked eye chasing the ISS, just a tiny dot like a satellite?

    Shame that crewed shuttles were too expensive, things like X-37 have less charm somehow than one with people on it
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    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    Wow, both sound spectacular,
    The shuttle is so much smaller than ISS with all its panels, what did it look like with naked eye chasing the ISS, just a tiny dot like a satellite?

    Shame that crewed shuttles were too expensive, things like X-37 have less charm somehow than one with people on it
    In 2002 the ISS was not at full size yet, but it was still brighter than the shuttle. I think the black tiles on the bottom of the shuttle reduced it's reflectivity a lot compared what a similar size satellite would have. It's a big craft, but it wasn't particularly bright.

    I started out as a huge fan of the Shuttle. The Challenger disaster brought me back to Earth, so to speak, and I started to see what a hodge-podge of compromises it really was. A beautiful concept, very poorly implemented.
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    Originally Posted by ElrondHubbard View Post
    .... I think the black tiles on the bottom of the shuttle reduced it's reflectivity a lot compared what a similar size satellite would have. It's a big craft, but it wasn't particularly bright...
    Oh? I thought that apart from obviously during re-entry it "flew" tail first (protection from space debris as tail is more resilient to tiny space junk strikes like a fleck of paint or something) and cargo doors towards earth so that the heat tiles protect them from the sun and they could radiate heat towards earth - not towards sun when cargo doors open exposing radiator.
    Basically it flew backwards and upside down - or maybe I'm gullible and fallen victim to internet myth.

    Anyway I'd expect you to see the light coloured side towards earth?
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    Oh? I thought that apart from obviously during re-entry it "flew" tail first (protection from space debris as tail is more resilient to tiny space junk strikes like a fleck of paint or something) and cargo doors towards earth so that the heat tiles protect them from the sun and they could radiate heat towards earth - not towards sun when cargo doors open exposing radiator.
    Basically it flew backwards and upside down - or maybe I'm gullible and fallen victim to internet myth.

    Anyway I'd expect you to see the light coloured side towards earth?
    Good point. That sent me down a rabbit hole, thanks! You're right that's its "standard" attitude, but it can assume many different positions depending on the operations taking place at the moment. Radiators facing Earth isn't really the most efficient for disposing of waste heat, pointing them towards empty space would be better, but as you mentioned, they also had plenty of other considerations, such as micrometeoroid impacts, communications, satellite release, etc. But I think you're right, when chasing ISS, they were probably oriented with the top towards Earth. Either way, it's still a lot fainter than the space station!
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    That's why you should always light them with a smouldering taper at arms length and step back a safe distance. Every now and again one can just go off
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    That's why you should always light them with a smouldering taper at arms length and step back a safe distance. Every now and again one can just go off
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    I am watching here on NASA's YouTube channel:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21X5lGlDOfg

    Weather is 50/50 go.
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    Originally Posted by Mark1T View Post
    I am watching here on NASA's YouTube channel:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21X5lGlDOfg

    Weather is 50/50 go.
    It's supposed to improve closer to launch. I'll be at the edge of my seat. I may very well fall out of it.
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    Originally Posted by ElrondHubbard View Post
    It's supposed to improve closer to launch. I'll be at the edge of my seat. I may very well fall out of it.
    One of the last launches took 5 tries. As you know, the monitoring of the weather and technology is all automated and if anything doesn't fall into alignment, the computer calls it off.

    Good to hear the weather may improve.
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    Weather is go, propellant load has started!
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    I am guessing Elon Musk is pretty excited, as he should be.

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