by Chris Tobias
The next mission for the SpaceX Falcon 9 will be the launch of Amos-17, a Boeing-built, Israeli-owned communications satellite that will be delivered to a geostationary transfer orbit.
The satellite was to have launched on August 3, but after the initial static fire of the Falcon 9 rocket on July 31 revealed a suspect valve, the launch had to be delayed until a second static fire could confirm that the valve had been successfully replaced.
With the successful completion of the second static fire, the mission is now expected to launch NET Tuesday, August 6, with a launch window that opens at 6:53pm EST (22:53 UTC) and extends until 8:20pm EST (00:20 UTC).
Whether or not the launch actually occurs on Tuesday will be largely due to range availability, since an Atlas 5 rocket owned by SpaceX’s competitor United Launch Alliance is booked for a launch on the same USAF-run Eastern Range on Thursday morning. There is also the issue of the weather, which has a 60% chance of violating launch constraints according to the latest Launch Mission Execution Forecast.
When the mission eventually does launch, it will be the tenth launch of a Falcon rocket (either a Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy) this year.
Had the mission launched on August 3, it would have been just nine days after SpaceX launched the Dragon on the CRS-18 resupply mission to the ISS, and would have marked the fastest turnaround for consecutive SpaceX launches from the same launchpad, in this case Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Amos-17 is owned by Spacecom Limited, a company based in Tel Aviv that has reason to appreciate SpaceX’s caution. The last Spacecom satellite that was to have launched aboard a Falcon 9 was destroyed on the launchpad in an explosion shortly before a planned static fire test. In the wake of that incident, SpaceX ceased placing customer payloads on its rockets for static fire tests.
The Falcon 9 booster for this mission, a “Block 5” booster which was previously flown for the Telstar 19 VANTAGE and Es’hail-2 missions, will not be recovered. Amos-17’s heavy weight– approximately 6.5 metric tons (14,330 pounds) fully fueled– requires all of the Falcon 9’s lift performance to deliver it into a geostationary transfer orbit above the equator. It will be just the second Block 5 Falcon 9 to be deemed expendable. It is likely, however, that SpaceX will still attempt to recover the fairing from this mission.
Peace, love and rockets…