SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, perched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, takes off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on May 30. 


SpaceX

It looks like a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has a decent chance of getting off the ground Tuesday, with a 60 percent favorable weather forecast for the launch of a new US military GPS satellite. 

SpaceX will attempt its third launch since its historic flight of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on May 30, while also attempting for the first time to land one of its rockets after deploying a military satellite.

The planned mission to lift the new US Space Force satellite to orbit will be the company’s 11th launch of 2020. Continuing this intense pace of launches would allow Elon Musk’s commercial space startup to pretty easily set a company record for most launches in a year. 

The company launched another military GPS satellite in 2018. At the time, the US Air Force determined that SpaceX would not be able to perform the needed flight trajectory and also land the first-stage booster, according to SpaceNews.

Since then, the company and the US military have negotiated changes in its GPS mission requirements and the cost of launch to enable SpaceX to attempt landing its first stage after lofting the satellite on Tuesday. 

The launch window from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida opens at 12:55 p.m. PT / 3:55 p.m. local time. Weather is 60% favorable for Tuesday’s launch, according to SpaceX.

More to come soon

SpaceX had also scheduled its second Starlink ride-share mission for last week, but the launch was ultimately postponed, and a new date for that blast-off has yet to be announced. 

“Team needed additional time for prelaunch checkouts, but Falcon 9 and the satellites are healthy,” SpaceX tweeted a couple of hours before the scheduled launch time on Friday. 

SpaceX had its most active year so far in 2018 with 21 launches. It’s now on pace to eclipse that mark in 2020, perhaps hitting 38 launches for the year if its plans pan out. The company hopes to continue packing its calendar with more lift-offs, aiming for 70 missions in 2023, according to a draft filing with the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year. 

Many of the launches will be Starlink missions, as SpaceX looks to put tens of thousands of its small satellites in orbit this decade. The company has also begun conducting ride-share launches, making room for a few commercial payloads alongside a batch of Starlink birds. 

The next Starlink launch is set to be the second Starlink ride share, this time with two Earth-observing microsatellites for Black Sky, a company that provides high-def satellite imagery.

SpaceX is trying expand the size of its growing constellation to nearly 600 satellites and closer to the threshold of 800 flying routers that Musk has said would allow for limited broadband service to begin.  


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