SVO1 Mission Patch (Courtesy NASA Spaceflight.com)
Tuesday’s launch of a Falcon 9 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will carry the GPS III SVO1 satellite into orbit for the United States Air Force. Once deployed, the satellite will join existing global positioning systems (GPS) to assist in providing navigation, positioning and timing services for the United States. This particular satellite, which was built by Lockheed Martin, is nicknamed “Vespucci” after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer from whose name the word “America” is derived.
SpaceX will also have a special guest on hand for its first national security mission, as US Vice-President Mike Pence will be in attendance to view the launch. The Vice-President called SpaceX’s launch of GPS III SVO1 “… an important step forward as we seek to secure American leadership in space.”
SpaceX will use a brand new Falcon 9 for this mission, and will not attempt to land the first stage after launch. Liftoff is scheduled for NET December 18 at 9:10AM EST (14:10 UTC). Weather conditions are currently 90% favorable.
Those who wish to view the launch can watch live at spacex.com and on SpaceX’s YouTube channel. The webcast will commence approximately 20 minutes before liftoff, but since this is a national security launch we may not be able to watch the mission in its entirety.
Peace, love and rockets…
The weather at the launch site was beautiful today, but less than ten miles away dark clouds were looming… (Photo credit: Look in the upper right-hand corner!)
River Tam: Storm’s getting worse.
Mal Reynolds: We’ll pass through it soon enough.
Today’s attempt by SpaceX to launch a Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on the sixth commercial resupply mission to the ISS had to be scrubbed just a few minutes before liftoff because of weather concerns.
Those who watched the launch attempt live online probably scratched their heads at the announcement, given the beautiful blue sky and white, fluffy clouds that served as the backdrop for the rocket as it sat on the launch pad. The real danger, however, was a front of dark, well-developed cumulonimbus “anvil” clouds that were within ten miles of the launch site. There were also some reports of distant lightning strikes within the ten-mile limit in the run-up to the launch window, and it is standard procedure to scrub a launch under such conditions.
The next launch attempt will be tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14, just after 4:10pm EDT. In all fairness, though, tomorrow’s weather currently only looks to be 50% go for launch, whereas today’s was 60% just a short time before the scrub had to be called.
And yet, the way we see it, there was a lot to feel positive about today.