SpaceX will be back in action again in the early morning hours of May 5 with the launch of another Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral. This latest mission will carry the JCSAT-14 communications satellite into orbit. The satellite, which will replace its predecessor the JCSAT-2A, is designed to operate for at least 15 years and is intended to help meet the growing demand for telecommunications infrastructure in the Asia Pacific region. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:21am EST, and the mission has a two-hour launch window.
As has quickly become the norm with SpaceX launches, the company will also attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 on the drone-piloted barge Of Course I Still Love You, which will be awaiting the rocket’s controlled descent in the Atlantic Ocean. If SpaceX is able to repeat the success of their April 8 vertical landing at sea, it will mark the third successful vertical landing and recovery of the Falcon 9’s first stage, and the second on an “Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship.” (SpaceX is warning everyone not to be overly optimistic in their pre-launch press release, saying, “Given this mission’s GTO destination, the first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing unlikely.”)
Those on the East Coast who are willing to stay up late enough to watch are likely to be rewarded with a pretty spectacular night launch and recovery. Live online coverage of the launch is scheduled to begin approximately twenty minutes before liftoff at spacex.com.
So, put on a pot of coffee late this Wednesday night and prepare to stay up with us and the rest of the night owls to watch another Falcon take flight and then come home to roost, as SpaceX continues to do the impossible and make it look routine.
Peace, love and rockets…