SpaceX’s next launch is slated for Thursday, November 15 at 3:46 PM EST from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a Falcon 9 will send the Es’hail-2 communications satellite into geostationary orbit.
Es’hail-2 will boost ham radio signals worldwide. (image: amsat-uk.org)
According to the Kennedy Space Center website, the satellite is designed to assist with broadband connectivity and broadcast capability for Qatar and its neighbors, but it will also boost the signal of ham radio operators from Brazil to Thailand. The satellite is owned by Qatar’s national satellite communications company, Es’hailSat, but was built in Japan by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.
Thursday’s launch, SpaceX’s 18th of the year, will be the 63rd flight of a Falcon 9 rocket to date. The Falcon 9 that will launch Es’hail-2 is a previously-flown booster that was last used for the July 22 launch of the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite.
SpaceX is expected to attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 aboard the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You a few hundred miles off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Es’hail-2 mission will also be the first time in several months that SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 during the day, so those on the East Coast who want to view the launch won’t have to stay up late to do it this time around. A live webcast of the launch should begin approximately 20 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com and on the company’s YouTube channel.
Peace, love and rockets…
It’s almost become a rarity to have a break between SpaceX launches anymore. It seems like we’ve written a lot this summer about multiple launches in the span of a week, or even two launches in a weekend, so it’s kind of hard to believe that it’s been over a month since the last time a Falcon 9 broke atmo. That will change Sunday night though, when SpaceX launches the Telstar 18 Vantage satellite (Telstar 18V for short) into Geostationary Transfer Orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Night launches of the Falcon 9, like the one SpaceX plans this Sunday, can be visually quite spectacular. (Photo: Mike Killian via Space Coast Daily)
The upcoming launch, which is scheduled for September 9 at 11:28 PM EDT (03:28 UTC), will feature a brand new “Block 5” Falcon 9 that has never previously flown. SpaceX plans to recover the rocket’s first stage in the Atlantic Ocean aboard the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
The Telstar 18V is a communications satellite that will be shared between the Canadian company Telesat and Hong Kong’s APT Satellite Co. Ltd. According to Telesat, it is designed to aid communications from India and Pakistan all the way to Hawaii, and has a potential mission length of more than 15 years. SpaceX successfully launched the second satellite in this series in July of this year.
The most recent weather forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing shows 60% favorable conditions for Sunday night’s launch.
So, if you’re looking for an alternative to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (Astros at Red Sox, if you were wondering) or NBC’s Sunday Night Football (Bears at Packers, if you care), you can watch the prime time launch of Telstar 18V live online at spacex.com or the company’s YouTube channel. For those new fans out there, SpaceX typically begins its live webcast of launches approximately 20 minutes before liftoff.
Peace, love and rockets…
It’s been a busy summer for SpaceX, and this month will be no exception. One might say the beginning of August will have its ups and downs for Elon Musk and company– quite literally– with the CRS-15 mission drawing to a close and the launch of yet another satellite.
SpaceX’s Dragon will return to Earth this weekend after spending more than a month berthed at the International Space Station, signaling the end of the CRS-15 mission. The capsule is scheduled for splashdown south of the Port of Los Angeles on Friday, August 3. Should an alternative landing date be deemed necessary, Dragon’s return could be postponed until Sunday, August 5, with splashdown occuring in the same general area. Once recovered, Dragon will be brought back to the Port of Los Angeles for the unloading of any time-sensitive cargo. The remainder of Dragon’s cargo will be unloaded once the capsule has arrived at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
And on Tuesday, August 7, SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Falcon will be carrying the Merah Putih (Telkom-4) communications satellite, which will provide coverage to Indonesia and India. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:19am, EDT (5:19 UTC). The Falcon 9 that will be used for this upcoming mission previously flew for the Bangabandhu-1 mission. The Merah Putih satellite will be placed in a Geostationary Transfer Orbit, and the Falcon 9’s first stage will be recovered once again, with a landing planned in the Atlantic Ocean on SpaceX’s drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
Those who would like to watch the launch can tune in to spacex.com or the company’s YouTube channel. SpaceX’s webcasts typically begin around 20 minutes before liftoff.
Peace, love and rockets…
Courtesy SpaceX Updates via Twitter
On May 10, SpaceX is scheduled to launch the Bangabandhu-1 satellite to geostationary transfer orbit from Launch Complex 39-A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Bangabandhu-1 will be Bangladesh’s first geostationary communications satellite. Its name means “friend of Bengal,” and it is named in honor of the founding father of the nation of Bangladesh. It is designed to provide communications services to Bangladesh and surrounding countries for at least the next 15 years.
The Falcon 9 that will carry Bangabandhu-1 into the black is scheduled to liftoff at 16:12 EST (20:12 UTC) on Thursday. The mission will also feature a landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage at sea aboard the SpaceX drone barge Of Course I Still Love You.
The highlight of the mission, however, will be the debut of the new “Block 5” variant of the Falcon 9. The Block 5 features a number of design upgrades that are intended to improve the rocket’s efficiency and safety, while allowing SpaceX to refly each first stage booster as many as ten times or more. (None of the previous Falcon 9 boosters have broken atmo more than twice.)
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk released this photo of the rollout of the Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9, which will launch on May 10.
SpaceX has indicated that the Block 5 will be the final variant of their workhorse Falcon 9. The company will now concentrate on the development of its BFR, or “Big Falcon Rocket,” as well as the production of the Falcon Heavy (the rocket that we hope will soon carry US astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a Crew Dragon named Serenity), while its Block 5 fleet of Falcon 9 rockets handles SpaceX’s ambitious manifest of scheduled commercial satellite launches.
Those who want to see the new Falcon 9 Block 5 in action can watch Thursday’s launch online. As is usually the case, SpaceX’s live coverage of the launch will begin on spacex.com and the company’s YouTube channel approximately 20 minutes prior to liftoff.
Peace, love and rockets…
(UPDATE: This launch was scrubbed on Monday, and is currently targeted for Wednesday, April 18 at 6:51 EDT. At a NASA social event for TESS on April 15, SpaceX Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability Hans Koenigsmann said there is, in fact, a launch opportunity for TESS every day through April 26.)
This Monday, April 16, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch, which is scheduled to lift off at 6:32 pm EDT (22:32 UTC), will feature a brand new Falcon 9 booster rocket that has never flown before. Unlike some of the more recent SpaceX missions, there are plans to recover the first stage of this Falcon 9 at sea aboard SpaceX’s drone ship Of Course I Still Love You. If that recovery is successful, this particular Falcon 9 will be reused for the CRS-15 Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station this summer.
This current mission is generating some buzz because of its payload. SpaceX is sending a NASA satellite into orbit that is known as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS. The satellite is designed to conduct a two-year survey during which it will use an array of telescopes to monitor over 200,000 stars in “neighboring solar systems” (less than 300 light years away) in order to detect and identify planets ranging in size from roughly the size of the Earth to gas giants, with a particular interest in identifying Earth-like exoplanets that could one day (or perhaps once did or even already do) support life.
There is a 30-second launch window for tomorrow’s launch, but there is the possibility of launching on Tuesday if Monday’s launch has to be scrubbed. If SpaceX misses that back-up window, then they’ll have to wait until the moon comes around again. This is because once the satellite is deployed it needs the help of a perfectly-timed gravitational assist from the moon in order to put it into a highly eccentric orbit that will bring it close to Earth approximately once every two weeks. At present, the weather is 80% GO for an April 16 launch, and 90% GO for a Tuesday backup launch if necessary.
For those who’d like to watch the launch, SpaceX’s live webcast of the mission will begin approximately 20 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com and on the company’s YouTube channel.
Peace, love and rockets…
SpaceX makes history at breakneck speed. In just a few hours, Elon Musk and company will launch their 50th Falcon 9 rocket!
Hispasat 30W-6 mission patch (via spacexnow.com)
Although it’s become the norm for SpaceX to refly its Falcon 9 boosters, it is actually a brand new Falcon 9 that will carry the Hispasat 30W-6 satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The milestone launch is scheduled for the early morning of Tuesday, March 6 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The two-hour launch window opens at 12:33 am EST, or 5:33 UTC. (If necessary, a two-hour back-up launch window is available at the same times on Wednesday, March 7.) The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite, which is designed to provide television, broadband, corporate networks and other telecommunications, will be deployed approximately 33 minutes after launch.
It appears that one of the trickier aspects of SpaceX’s launch-recover-relaunch operations might be the effect that launch delays can have on the ability to recover boosters. This particular launch was scheduled for late February, but was delayed because additional testing was needed on the fairing’s pressurization system. Back in February, the plan was to recover this brand new Falcon 9 booster aboard SpaceX’s drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, and the company had even debuted its brand new “spider boat” Mr. Steven, which has been specially designed to catch fairings. But the SpaceX recovery fleet was called back to port over the weekend, and the official press kit for this mission confirmed that SpaceX will not attempt to land the Falcon 9’s first stage after launch due to rough seas in the recovery area off Florida’s Atlantic Coast. It’s probably a good bet that SpaceX would have preferred to recover this shiny new booster to fly it another day, but Badger’s assessment of crime and politics in the pilot episode of Firefly applies to the business of launching rockets as well: “The situation is always… fluid.”
Speaking of fluid, if you’re on the East Coast, you might want to put on a pot of coffee if you plan on staying up to see the 50th Falcon 9 break atmo, but for those who want to watch the launch live online, SpaceX’s webcast of the mission will go live approximately fifteen minutes prior to liftoff at spacex.com.
Peace, love and rockets…
This Monday SpaceX will launch the Koreasat 5A from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The South Korean communications satellite (anyone who keeps up with the daily news knows North Korea prefers to conduct their own launches nowadays) is scheduled to be carried into the black by a Falcon 9 rocket on Monday afternoon. The launch window opens at 3:34 p.m. EDT (1934 GMT) and extends to 5:58 p.m. EDT (2158 GMT), if necessary.
The satellite will be deployed to a geostationary orbit 22,300 miles (35,800 km) over the equator. As has practically become standard operating procedure for SpaceX, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will land on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean after its work is done.
The mission will be SpaceX’s 16th of the year, and it will also mark the 44th Falcon 9 flight since June of 2010. Elon Musk’s company continues to demonstrate its reliability as it gears up to return US astronauts to space next summer on board its Crew Dragon, a ship that we hope will be named Serenity after the transport ship in Joss Whedon’s cult sci-fi classic Firefly.
Monday’s launch can be viewed live on SpaceX’s YouTube channel and at spacex.com. The SpaceX webcast of the launch is expected to go live 20-30 minutes before liftoff.