by Chris Tobias
Despite delays (and partly because of them), SpaceX now plans to launch two Falcon 9 rockets this week, one from each coast.
On October 9, a brand new Falcon 9 will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of a series of satellite launches for Iridium’s next generation mobile communications fleet. This particular launch, which has been delayed numerous times over the past year, will deploy 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, and is now scheduled to lift off at 8:37am EDT (1237 GMT) on Monday morning.
Then, if all goes according to plan, we’ll see the second launch of a Falcon 9 in a little over 48 hours, as the EchoStar 105 communications satellite heads into the black as part of the SES-11 mission from LC-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The payload for this mission, which will utilize a previously-flown Falcon 9, is a nearly 11,500-pound (5,200-kilogram) satellite built by Airbus Defense and Space that carries a shared communications payload for Luxembourg-based SES and American EchoStar. This launch was originally scheduled for October 7, but will now happen mid-week. Liftoff is currently scheduled for 6:53pm EDT (2253 GMT) on Wednesday, October 11.
These two launches will be SpaceX’s 14th and 15th of the year, as Elon Musk and crew continue to launch at the fastest rate in the history of the company. On October 4, Musk said on Twitter and Instagram that SpaceX was also “Aiming for two rocket landings in 48 hours this weekend.” With the adjusted schedule, those will now be weekday landings, but that doesn’t make SpaceX’s plans any less ambitious. The Iridium-3 booster will land at sea aboard SpaceX’s drone-barge Just Read the Instructions in the Pacific, and the Falcon 9 first-stage that launches the SES-11 mission will touch down aboard her Atlantic counterpart, Of Course I Still Love You.
And remember, with SpaceX launching (and landing) rockets at an unprecedented pace, now would be a great time to contact Elon Musk and/or president Gwynne Shotwell to remind them that you’d like SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon, which is now scheduled to launch next August, to be named after Joss Whedon’s Serenity. All it takes is a brief letter or postcard, or even just a leaf, to make your voice heard.
Peace, love and rockets…