SpaceX targeting next week for Falcon 9 mission; first daytime launch in 6 months
If schedules hold, SpaceX next week will vault a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center into the day's last light, signaling a break from the Space Coast's streak of late-night launches.
All Eastern Range missions since May have taken flight in the early morning hours, but teams next Thursday have a launch window at pad 39A that opens in the afternoon and closes around sunset. It will also mark SpaceX's first launch from the historic Apollo and space shuttle-era pad since May, which last hosted the company's first-ever Falcon 9 Block 5, an upgraded version of the rocket that has been in operation since 2010.
The rocket's first stage is expected to perform an automated descent toward the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship shortly after liftoff, so Space Coast residents and visitors should not anticipate the usual triple sonic booms that are heard when the booster returns to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It should sail into Port Canaveral before the end of the weekend.
On board: Es'hail-2, a Qatari communications satellite for operator Es'hailSat that will cover the Middle East and North Africa region from a geostationary orbit. Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corporation manufactured the satellite.
SpaceX's following launch is also scheduled for a daytime liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 4. That mission, the company's 16th resupply of the International Space Station, has an instantaneous 1:38 p.m. launch window and will ferry thousands of pounds of cargo, science experiments and supplies.
Quelle: Florida Today
SpaceX fires Falcon 9 booster on pad 39A, aims for comsat launch Thursday
SpaceX test-fired a Falcon 9 rocket Monday night at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, clearing the way for a launch Thursday with Qatar’s Es’hail 2 communications satellite, the first daytime liftoff from Florida’s Space Coast in more than six months.
The rocket’s nine Merlin 1D first stage engines ignited at 8:30 p.m. EST Monday (0130 GMT Tuesday) and fired for several seconds as hold-down restraints kept the Falcon 9 grounded at pad 39A, the historic former starting point for numerous space shuttle launches and Saturn 5 moonshots.
SpaceX recovered from an apparent aborted hotfire attempt Monday morning, reloaded kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the launcher, and accomplished the static fire after nightfall Monday.
The two-stage rocket is set to blast of with a previously-flown first stage booster recovered on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean following the July 22 launch of the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite.
The rocket will be rolled back to the hangar, connected with its commercial satellite payload, and returned to pad 39A in time for a launch window opening at 3:46 p.m. EST (2046 GMT) Thursday.
SpaceX is expected to attempt another landing of the rocket after Thursday afternoon’s liftoff, again aboard the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” a few hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral.
The payload for Thursday’s launch is Es’hail 2, built in Japan by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and owned by Qatar’s national satellite communications company, Es’hailSat. Equipped with Ku-band and Ka-band transponders, Es’hail 2 will provide television broadcasts, broadband connectivity and government services to Qatar and neighboring parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
The spacecraft also carries the first two amateur radio antennas to fly in geostationary orbit, linking hobbyists across a third of the Earth’s surface in a single hop from as far west as Brazil and as far east as India.
In a statement earlier this year, Es’hailSat said the new satellite features “sophisticated anti-jamming capabilities” to curb interference and will significantly expand the company’s offerings currently provided by Es’hail 1, which launched in 2013 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.
The launch Thursday will mark the 63rd flight of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and the 18th SpaceX mission of the year.
It will also end a run of night launches at Cape Canaveral stretching back to May 11, when a Falcon 9 rocket last flew from pad 39A. A series of launches from Cape Canaveral by SpaceX and United Launch Alliance over the summer and fall have all occurred during nighttime.
Weather so-so for upcoming SpaceX launch from Kennedy Space Center and landing
Anticipated weather conditions are leaning toward favorable for SpaceX's planned Falcon 9 rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center this week, according to Space Coast-based Air Force forecasters.
Conditions are 60 percent "go" for teams to launch a Qatari communications satellite from pad 39A during a nearly two-hour window that opens at 3:46 p.m. Thursday. The primary concerns: Possible presence of cumulus clouds and layers of thick clouds.
"By Thursday, the strong high pressure push behind the front will bring cooler, drier air into Florida, moving through the spaceport Thursday morning," forecasters with the 45th Weather Squadron said Tuesday. "Cloudiness and rain will diminish through the day as the boundary pushes south of the area."
The mission, known as Es'hail-2, will mark the first time 39A has hosted a launch since SpaceX last used the pad in May. If it takes off at the opening of the window, it will also be the Space Coast's first daytime launch in six months.
If takeoff occurs at the end of the window, which is 5:29 p.m., it will coincide exactly with sunset.
After liftoff, the 156-foot-tall first stage of the rocket will target an automated landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, which should sail into Port Canaveral by the weekend.
Es'hailSat's commercial communications satellite, built by Mitsubishi Electric in Japan, will serve the Middle East and North Africa region from a geostationary orbit.
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: Es'hail-2 communications satellite
- Launch Time: 3:46 p.m.
- Window: To 5:29 p.m.
- Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
- Landing: Yes, Of Course I Still Love You drone ship
- Weather: 60 percent "go"
Quelle: Florida Today