CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — SpaceX
test fired the nine Merlin engines on the Falcon 9 rocket on Monday ahead of its historic launch of a refurbished Falcon 9 rocket that is set for 6:27 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, March 30, 2017 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Launch Weather 70% ‘GO’
According to the latest weather forecast from the United States Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is an 70% percent chance overall of acceptable weather conditions for Thursday’s launch. The primary weather concern for launch is cumulus clouds and thick clouds.
Falcon 9’s Previous Launch
The reused first stage rocket that will make this historic launch was initially launched with a Dragon capsule from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on April 8, 2016 for a resupply mission to the International Space Station. After launch, the first stage landed on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship Of Course I Still Love You where it was ferried back to Port Canaveral, Florida.
SpaceX Will Use First Commercial Launch Customer For Historic Launch
Fittingly, SpaceX will make the historic launch with an SES-10 communications satellite – the same company which risked its payload aboard SpaceX’s first commercial launch in December 2013
“Having been the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX back in 2013, we are excited to once again be the first customer to launch on SpaceX’s first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket. We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight, and make access to space more efficient in terms of cost and manifest management,” Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES said.
The SES-10 satellite will provide television broadcast and telecommunication services to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
SpaceX to attempt second landing on drone ship
If all goes as planned, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver the communications satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit.
Following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will attempt a historic landing of a reused rocket on Of Course I Still Love You. However, a successful landing could be more challenging with this mission. That’s because the Geo Stationary Transfer Orbit requires the first stage rocket to reach a significantly higher altitude than other low earth orbit missions. This means that Falcon 9’s first stage rocket will becoming down faster with less fuel to slow its descent.
Top photo credit: SpaceX