The first SpaceX launch of the New Year is scheduled to take place (NET) Friday, January 11 at 10:31 AM EST (15:31 UTC). SpaceX completed the static fire for the Iridium-8 mission at Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg AFB in California on January 6, and will launch 10 satellites of the Iridium NEXT constellation aboard a Falcon 9 from the same pad this weekend.
(image courtesy AmericaSpace)
The relationship between SpaceX and Iridium traces back to 2010, when Iridium contracted Elon Musk’s private space company to launch its entire NEXT satellite constellation shortly after the very first successful flight of a Falcon 9. It would be seven years before SpaceX would be able to start fulfilling that contract, but since the first of seven previous Iridium NEXT missions was completed in 2017, SpaceX has been able to launch and deploy each subsequent group of satellites every few months with little interruption. This month’s launch will be the eighth and final launch of the Iridium NEXT constellation of satellites, and upon its completion, SpaceX will have launched a total of 75 satellites for Iridium in just two years.
The Falcon 9 for this mission will be a previously-flown booster that was launched and recovered in September of 2018 during the Telstar 18V mission. This final group of ten Iridium NEXT satellites will be inserted into a Low Polar Orbit, and the first stage of the Falcon 9 will land once again, this time at sea aboard SpaceX’s Pacific drone barge Just Read the Instructions.
Those who wish to watch this milestone mission can tune into SpaceX’s live webcast at spacex.com and on the company’s YouTube channel. Coverage will begin approximately 20 minutes before liftoff.
Peace, love and rockets…
(Image: America Space)
Elon Musk and company are ready to send another Falcon 9 into the black this Wednesday, just days after SpaceX successfully completed the Telstar 19 mission. This time the action will be on the West Coast.
On July 25, a Falcon 9 of the new Block 5 variant will launch from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission is Iridium-7, the latest in a series of what is expected to be a total of eight missions to put 75 Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit. Once completed, the mission will bring the number of deployed satellites to 65. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:39 am EDT (11:39 UTC).
The Iridium-7 mission will insert a constellation of 10 new satellites into Low Earth Orbit as part of Iridium Communications ongoing effort to overhaul its communications fleet. The first stage of this particular Block 5 Falcon 9, which is making its maiden flight, will land on SpaceX’s drone recovery ship Just Read the Instructions in the Pacific Ocean. The mission will mark SpaceX’s 14th flight of this calendar year.
As usual, live coverage of the launch will be available via SpaceX’s webcast, which should go live approximately 20 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com and on the company’s YouTube channel.
Peace, love and rockets…
There is a sports car in deep space. Everyone with a smart phone knows what the Falcon Heavy is. It’s official: SpaceX has made launching rockets sexy.
But while the public recovers from its “Falcon Heavy hangover,” SpaceX is already focused on the next mission. And that mission is the launch of the PAZ satellite to Low Earth Orbit aboard a Falcon 9 this Wednesday morning, February 21 from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
PAZ Mission Patch (SpaceX)
The Falcon 9’s first stage that is being used for the PAZ mission previously flew for the FORMOSAT-5 mission from SLC-4E in August of 2017. SpaceX will not attempt to recover the Falcon 9’s first stage after launch, which is almost becoming standard operating procedure for launches involving the older model of their previously-flown boosters.
The PAZ satellite was to have been launched this past Sunday, but SpaceX’s team at Vandenberg wanted to take some additional time to perform final checkouts of the upgraded fairing, which necessitated a postponement to February 21 due to mission requirements. It is perhaps a testament to just how much SpaceX has raised public awareness of the private space industry that the initial delay of this West Coast rocket launch actually made the local news broadcasts in this writer’s hometown of Pittsburgh, PA!
Tomorrow’s PAZ mission is scheduled for liftoff at 9:17am EST (14:17 UTC). For those who’d like to enjoy a rocket launch with their eggs and coffee, SpaceX’s live webcast should begin approximately 20 minutes before liftoff on the company’s website and YouTube channel.
And don’t forget, there has never been a better time to write SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk and/or President and COO Gwynne Shotwell to congratulate them on their recent success and ask them to consider the name Serenity for the company’s first Crew Dragon. If you’re not sure what else to write, just tell them we Browncoats think Serenity is the perfect name for a space capsule that will become the flagship of a company that makes doing the impossible look routine!
Peace, love and rockets…