by Chris Tobias
Now that Elon Musk has officially announced a target launch date of February 6, it’s hard not to be excited about SpaceX’s upcoming maiden launch of the Falcon Heavy. Before that happens though, there is the not-so-small matter of another launch of a (literally) tried-and-true Falcon 9 this week.
This Tuesday, January 30, SpaceX is scheduled to launch the GovSat-1 (SES-16) satellite into the black from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. If everything goes as planned, a previously-flown Falcon 9 will lift off Tuesday afternoon (or maybe evening, since there is a launch window of two hours and twenty-one minutes) and carry the multi-mission satellite into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit for LuxGovSat S.A. (a public-private joint venture between the government of Luxembourg and SES).
There will be no landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage during this launch, perhaps because SpaceX continues to phase out its older booster models in favor of newer ones.
The weather could definitely be a factor in this launch. At present weather forecasts only look about 40% favorable for a Tuesday launch, with high winds expected on that day. If the launch is delayed to Wednesday, January 31, conditions look to improve significantly. Current forecasts put the conditions at 90% GO on the back-up launch date.
The launch window for GovSat-1 is scheduled to open at 4:25pm EST (21:25 UTC) on Tuesday. As usual, live online coverage of this launch will be available on SpaceX’s website and on the company’s YouTube channel, with live streaming of the launch webcast beginning 20-30 minutes before liftoff.
Peace, love and rockets…