SpaceX CSG-2 Launch

SpaceX plans to launch the Cosmo-Skymed Second Generation 2 (CSG-2) satellite for the Italian Space Agency on Thursday 2022-01-27 at 23:11 UTC. This will be a launch from Florida into a sun-synchronous (97.86°) circular orbit at 619 km altitude, using the mission profile developed by SpaceX to allow launches to near-polar orbits from Cape Canaveral. The first stage booster, B1052, will be making its third flight and will return to the landing pad at the Cape rather than land on a drone ship. Interestingly, this booster previous flew as a Falcon Heavy side booster on the second and third Heavy missions and was subsequently converted to the Falcon 9 first stage configuration. Both payload fairing halves are new, and will be recovered at sea. Weather is forecast as 60% favourable for launch. For additional details, see the pre-launch preview from Everyday Astronaut.

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That suggests that B1053 may also be up for conversion from Heavy side booster.

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If you prefer the straight SpaceX Webcast of the launch to the version with Tim Dodd’s commentary, here it is.

Scrubbed—the next launch opportunity is tomorrow, 2022-01-28 at 23:11 UTC.

Scrubbed again—this time due to thick clouds above the launch site which failed to clear at the decision point around nine minutes before launch. The next attempt is scheduled for 2022-01-29 at 23:11 UTC. There is a Starlink launch scheduled for 2022-01-30, so if this launch slips further there may be some schedule shuffling required.

Here is the SpaceX Webcast of the third launch attempt on 2022-01-29 at 23:11 UTC.

The launch attempt set for 2022-01-29 at 23:11 UTC was once again cancelled due to weather. The next attempt will be the next day, 2022-01-30 at 23:11 UTC. The live stream player in the previous comment will work for this attempt as well. Weather is forecast at 90% favourable for launch

The delays to this launch have pushed back the launch of the Starlink Group 4-7 mission to Monday, 2022-01-31 at 19:17 UTC when the weather is also forecast as 90% favourable. If both of these go as scheduled, this will be the shortest interval between two launches from Cape Canaveral since 1967 when Delta-G and Atlas-Centaur rockets launched on unrelated missions within a 10 hour period.

The fourth time was not the charm.

This time the weather was perfect, the vehicle counted down to less than one minute before launch, and “HOLD HOLD HOLD”. A cruise ship was steaming (or dieseling, or whatever they do these days) into the “no go” zone for the launch, and the stalwart U.S. Coast Guard could not get to them in time to stop the incursion. So, it’s drain the propellant and set up for another try to-morrow. This will probably delay the Starlink launch which was scheduled for earlier Monday, but there has as yet been no announcement of this.

As Rand Simberg has argued for years, recycling a launch because a boat strays into the zone where debris may land in the most unlikely case of an explosion during ascent is insane. This exercise probably cost SpaceX more than six figures when you take into account propellant loss in tanking and detanking, salaries for launch and mission control personnel (I don’t know if they pay overtime for week-end, but that isn’t the way I’d bet) and the fees they pay the range to support the launch attempt. I don’t know if the cruise ship company will be fined for the incursion, if so how much, and what compensation may be paid to SpaceX from that fine.


Well, they’re going to try again, for the fifth time, to get this thing off the ground. Launch is scheduled for 2022-01-31 at 23:11 UTC. (Because the satellite is being inserted in a Sun-synchronous orbit at the same inclination and a specific phase with respect to other satellites in the constellation, these launch windows are instantaneous.) Here is the live stream.

If this attempt does not go on time, they will stand down until after the NROL-87 launch for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, scheduled for 2022-02-02 at 20:18 UTC. The Starlink Group 4-7 launch, scheduled for earlier on 2022-01-31, has been postponed, with a new time not yet specified.

This time for sure!

I also curious what happens to that cruise ship.


Spaceflight Now reports:

SpaceX did not identify which cruise ship caused the delay Sunday. Cruise liners from Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises departed Port Canaveral Sunday evening. The port is located just south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

In 2020, SpaceX launched the first polar orbit mission from Cape Canaveral since 1969. The COSMO-SkyMed mission will be the fifth polar orbit mission launched by SpaceX since then, and the second this month, as the southerly launch corridor gains more use.

The launch hazard area for ships and aircraft is different for a polar orbit launch than a launch to the east or northeast, such as flights heading to the International Space Station.

I wonder if what happened was that the cruise line, receiving the notice to mariners about the exclusion zone, ignored it because they assumed the launch would be to the east or northeast, which wouldn’t affect their course toward the Caribbean. If they’d looked closer, they’d have seen that this launch is toward the south, so they were headed right for the restricted area.


You are such a gentleman, Mr. W. I wonder if the cruise line knew exactly what it was doing, and was hoping to give their paying passengers the additional thrill of seeing a rocket pass overhead? OK – I am too cynical.


I don’t think you are too cynical.


In a statement issued Monday, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman David Micallef said: “We can confirm the cruise ship was [Royal Caribbean’s] Harmony of the Seas. The Coast Guard is actively investigating Sunday’s cruise ship incursion and postponement of the SpaceX launch.”




This launch occurred just after sunset at the launch site, which meant that as the rocket climbed toward the southeast, it ascended into direct sunlght in a dark sky. This allowed for spectacular pictures of stage separation, the flip maneuver and boost-back burn by the first stage, and the second stage flight through payload separation.

This is a SpaceX tracking camera video focused on the second stage. The video is silent.