10:40am ET Friday update: The Falcon 9 rocket was launched Friday during its target window, as sunrise broke over the Pacific coast at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch was nominal, with the first stage taking the payload into low Earth orbit and then descending back to a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. Final deployment of the 10 Iridium satellites was expected approximately 1 hour and 11 minutes after launch.
Original mail: Fresh off a successful 2018 flight campaign, with a record 21 missions, SpaceX returns to the launch pad on Friday for its first mission of the new year. The immediate launch window will open at 10:31 AM ET (15:31 UTC).
This will be SpaceX’s eighth and final launch to build a constellation of 75 modern communications satellites for Iridium. For this mission, SpaceX will launch 10 of the Iridium NEXT satellites into low-polar Earth orbit.
The first stage for this mission flew earlier in September, launching the Telstar 18 Vantage mission into geosynchronous orbit. It made an ocean landing on relatively high seas during the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season. This time the missile will try to land on the drone ship Just read the instructions stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
All in all, this should be a pretty standard mission for SpaceX, with no crazy flight profiles or experimental testing. After all, a Falcon 9 rocket has flown this mission about seven times before, and this first stage is “proven” in the sense that it has already flown once.
SpaceX is not expected to attempt to recover the payload as the company is still perfecting its procedure for this. In addition to studying data obtained from previous launches, SpaceX dropped a helicopter fairing half off the coast of California and attempted to capture it with the ship. Mr Steven. Earlier this week, the company released some quite arresting images one of those tests.
After 18 missions in 2017 and 21 missions in 2018, it is unknown how many rocket launches SpaceX will target in 2019. However, a reasonable bet is that the company will attempt 16 to 20 Falcon 9 launches and two to three Falcon Heavy flights.
A webcast for Friday morning’s launch attempt should begin approximately 15 minutes before the launch window opens. With bad weather (a 60 percent chance favorable conditions) or a technical problem stands in the way of a launch attempt, SpaceX has a backup window available on Saturday morning at 15:25 UTC.