by Chris Tobias
SpaceX has announced a June 15 launch date for its next Falcon 9 launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission is to launch the Eutelsat 117 West B and ABS 2A communications satellites to a geosynchronous transfer orbit. SpaceX will also once again attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 downrange of the Cape on its drone-piloted barge Of Course I Still Love You. The launch is scheduled for 10:29am EDT, and there is a 45-minute launch window. SpaceX will broadcast the launch live on its website. Coverage should begin approximately 20 minutes before liftoff.
The French-made Eutelsat 117 West B satellite will provide Latin America with video, data, government, and mobile services, while ABS 2A, made by Bermuda and Hong Kong-based Asia Broadcast Satellite, will distribute direct-to-home television, mobile and maritime communications services across Russia, India, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region.
The satellites, which will launch in a conjoined configuration and use all-electric propulsion for orbit-raising, were built by Boeing, which has been chosen along with SpaceX to return US astronauts to space in American-built spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Project. Boeing, which was to conduct the first Commercial Crew launch, recently announced its flight would have to be delayed until 2018. SpaceX is currently on track to launch its first crewed Dragon spacecraft sometime next year.
Of course, it’s that very Dragon that we want to bear the name Serenity. If you agree that Serenity would be a shiny name for America’s next manned spaceship, then now is the time to let SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and president Gwynne Shotwell know how you feel. You can start by signing our online petition, which will remain open for approximately one more month. And don’t forget: there’s always time to write either or both of them a letter to tell them why you believe SpaceX’s first Dragon should be called Serenity.
Peace, love and rockets…