from the not-sticking-the-landing-this-time dept.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984
The demands of launching the first in an upgraded line of U.S. Air Force GPS navigation satellites, including a late load of extra fuel for the spacecraft and a military policy of reserving fuel to eliminate space junk, will keep SpaceX from recovering the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket following liftoff Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, according to mission managers.
[...] The rocket's first stage will fly without the four landing legs and aerodynamic grid fins used to bring the booster back to Earth intact, according to Lee Rosen, SpaceX's vice president of customer operations and integration. The mission will be the first by SpaceX to dispose of a Falcon 9's first stage since June, and the first time one of the company's new Block 5 boosters has ever been intentionally discarded.
[...] Instead of heading due east from Cape Canaveral, as the Falcon 9 rocket does with most of its commercial communications satellite payloads, the SpaceX launcher will fly to the northeast over the Atlantic Ocean, following a trajectory roughly parallel to the U.S. East Coast. Launching toward the northeast reduces the extra boost in speed a rocket naturally receives from Earth's eastward rotation, meaning it needs to burn more propellant accelerate the GPS satellite into the proper orbit.
Air Force and SpaceX officials cited those factors, along with the weight of the first GPS 3-series satellite — designated GPS 3 SV01 — and "uncertainty" in the Falcon 9's performance to such an orbit, as reasons for deciding to forego a landing of the Falcon 9 booster on Tuesday's mission.
The Air Force also has to comply with a government policy instituted in recent years to avoid leaving spent rocket stages in orbit, and the Falcon 9's upper stage will reignite after releasing the GPS 3 SV01 satellite to target a controlled destructive re-entry back into Earth's atmosphere a few hours later. Mission designers had to set aside some of the rocket's fuel for the de-orbit burn to satisfy the Air Force requirement, which is aimed at preventing space junk.
SpaceX is seeking US approval to deploy up to 1 million Earth stations to receive transmissions from its planned satellite broadband constellation.
The Federal Communications Commission last year gave SpaceX permission to deploy 11,943 low-Earth orbit satellites for the planned Starlink system. A new application from SpaceX Services, a sister company, asks the FCC for "a blanket license authorizing operation of up to 1,000,000 Earth stations that end-user customers will utilize to communicate with SpaceX's NGSO [non-geostationary orbit] constellation."
The application was published by FCC.report, a third-party site that tracks FCC filings. GeekWire reported the news on Friday. An FCC spokesperson confirmed to Ars today that SpaceX filed the application on February 1, 2019.
If each end-user Earth station provides Internet service to one building, SpaceX could eventually need authorization for more than 1 million stations in the US. SpaceX job listings describe the user terminal as "a high-volume manufactured product customers will have in their homes."