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SpaceX F9 - Starlink V1.5 - 2-1 - SLC-4E


Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2013
San Diego
Dumb question: Is the trajectory for this polar launch going northbound or southbound? Wondering what the possibility is for seeing anything from various parts of the West Coast.


I believe they are usually southbound. At least that was the direction of the last Vandenberg SpaceX launch. And it was very visible from San Diego (once it got high enough).


Active Member
Nov 18, 2014
Bay Area
Always south from VAFB VSFB.

The base is essentially on a peninsula-ish where its all land to the north and all ocean to the south. Polar orbits--that is, everything that's going out of vandy--are all pretty high inclination or, put another way, pretty north-south orbital paths. Because we (the US) don't like to huck rockets over populated land masses, we send them south.

IF SpaceX ever launches the mega-retrograde shell (140° inclination or something) its possible a launch could go to the north west, but I'd guess they'll still launch to the south west just because its a little closer to the historical range.


New electron smell
Aug 23, 2015
San Francisco, CA
They fly south. Southern California usually gets a show.
But am told even farther north like the Bay Area will be able to see it, if one finds a clear line of sight to SSE.
I was so pumped to go and see this one, but alas it will have to wait.

My one and only viewing of a launch was from the mountains near Kings Canyon / Sequoia National Park. iPhone picture showing first stage boostback (it was an RTLS) and second stage burn from 200 miles away to the East of Vandy:

Last edited:


Active Member
Nov 18, 2014
Bay Area
So sats are now "upside-down" to compared previous stacks? Also are those wheels larger than here in the visualization:

That’s a bottom-up shot of fairing deployment, so sats are indeed ‘right side up’

Wheels aren’t materially bigger/larger than the website rendering, though certainly there will be visual differences between the flight unit and that render and potentially some minor differences in wheel size/shape and/or angles. Though…I think the different perspective of the two images is probably the biggest source of any apparent differences.


Active Member
Nov 18, 2014
Bay Area
Circling back on the wheels <ahem>, it seems like Starlink has moved them beyond the traditional platform boundary which is why we haven't seen the wheels on past launches--rather, they've been tucked behind the arrays. That could be making more space for ISL equipment? Note: I'm too lazy to find other recent launch screen caps, this may not be the actual first instance of this config.

Unrelated, if not slightly underwhelming, there's a decent chance that the long thin cylinder below the wheels in the launch screen cap (bottom center frame up toward left mid frame) is a torque rod.
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