5:45 PM ET Monday update: After waiting 30 minutes for a stray rainstorm to clear the launch pad, a Falcon 9 rocket was successfully launched on Monday, carrying a Korean communications satellite into space. The first stage then performed a successful landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX has now successfully landed 57 of the 97 rockets it has launched.
Original post: SpaceX will attempt to launch a South Korean military communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday. The Anasis 2 mission has a launch window of nearly four hours, from 5:00 PM ET (21:00 UTC) to 8:55 PM (Tuesday 00:55 UTC).
This effort follows a delay last week when SpaceX canceled a launch attempt to investigate a problem in the second phase. The company has not said whether it has replaced the second stage for this launch or resolved a problem with the existing hardware.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Monday’s launch is that, if successful, it would break the company’s record for the lead time of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage. This booster was first used on May 30 with the launch of NASA’s Demo-2 mission, successfully sending astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. A launch on Monday means the company will have reused this booster in just 51 days.
Not only would this period break SpaceX’s previous turnaround record by a few weeks, it would also break the turnaround record for each orbital rocket. In 1985, before the space shuttle Challenger accident caused NASA to delay its efforts to refurbish the shuttle between flights, Atlantis returned to space just 54 days after landing, marking the shortest time between orbiter reuse.
Ultimately, SpaceX hopes to shorten the lead time between launches from weeks to days, but because it is still learning from the process, extra attention is being paid to between launches. After a booster is returned to the company’s Florida hangar, the first stage is inspected for leaks and good welds, then the missile’s avionics are tested, plus some additional testing. This investigation takes almost a month before a booster is put back into the processing stream for a new mission.
After today’s launch, SpaceX will attempt to finish the first stage of the Falcon 9 Just read the instructions drone ship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The satellite will enter service 32 minutes after launch, following a second combustion of the rocket’s second-stage Merlin engine.
In Florida, there is a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions tonight. The webcast below should start about 15 minutes before the launch window opens.
List image by Trevor Mahlmann