Wednesday update: SpaceX says is it pressing ahead with the GovSat-1 mission on Wednesday, with the launch window opening at 4:25pm. The company has evidently sorted the technical issues from Tuesday’s scrubbed launch attempt, and weather conditions are much better today. Meteorologists give the launch a 90 percent chance of favorable weather, which is about as good as it gets.
Read below for more background on the launch, and to watch a webcast that will begin about 15 minutes before the launch window opens.
Tuesday 3:10pm Update: Per Bill Harwood, of CBS News, SpaceX scrubbed Tuesday’s planned launch of the Falcon 9 rocket to replace a transducer of some sort. The plan is try again Wednesday with same launch window, which opens at 4:25pm ET. Weather conditions should be better at that time as well.
Original post: SpaceX began its launch campaign this year on January 7, with liftoff of the highly classified Zuma payload for the US government. Although it’s not official, multiple sources have said the mission failed to reach orbit. SpaceX has said its rocket performed nominally despite any failure, and the Air Force has backed the company up on that assertion.
Perhaps the biggest vote of confidence in the company is that less than four weeks later, it is prepared to launch again. On Tuesday in Florida, during a launch window from 4:25pm ET to 6:46pm ET, a Falcon 9 rocket will attempt to launch a satellite to geostationary transfer orbit for public-private partnership between the Luxembourg Government and SES. The GovSat-1/SES-16 satellite will be used for NATO communications as well as commercial purposes.
This is the sixth time SpaceX has launched a used rocket. The core for this mission has previously flown once, in May 2017, to launch the NROL-76 mission. Although the rocket will have enough propellant to try a landing after pushing the four-ton satellite into its orbit, SpaceX will not attempt to recover the booster. This is partly because the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship will be needed for the Falcon Heavy launch next week.
Winds are a concern for Tuesday’s launch, with only a 40 percent chance of favorable weather. Conditions are expected to be much better should a backup attempt be required Wednesday.
For those eagerly awaiting the maiden launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, the GovSat-1/SES-16 mission is also important because it represents SpaceX’s last flight before the heavy mission. SpaceX has set a tentative launch date of February 6 for the Falcon Heavy launch from Kennedy Space Center, at a launch pad near where Tuesday’s launch attempt will take place.