SpaceX has not launched a brand-new rocket since June, when it boosted a GPS III satellite tv for pc for the US Space Force on a Falcon 9 rocket. Since that time the corporate has launched a number of industrial missions and its personal Starlink satellites on quite a lot of beforehand flown rockets, and they had been all profitable.
However, when the corporate tried to launch a new Falcon 9 first stage on October 2—this was for yet one more GPS satellite tv for pc, named GPS III-04—the try was scrubbed at T-2 seconds. Later, SpaceX’s Hans Koenigsmann explained that two of the rocket’s 9 first-stage engines ignited early throughout the early October launch try, and this triggered an automated abort of the engines.
This drawback was finally traced to a tiny little bit of lacquer used throughout a metallic-remedy course of that was supposed to be eliminated earlier than flight however was not. Now the corporate believes it has addressed the issue, which is a great factor as a result of the corporate has three necessary missions arising for the US authorities, all slated to fly on new rockets.
First up is a second try to launch the GPS III-04 satellite tv for pc, and this comes on Thursday night. A Falcon 9 rocket, with two of its Merlin engines changed, is due to elevate off at 6:24pm EST (23:24 UTC) from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The almost 4-ton satellite tv for pc shall be deployed right into a switch orbit with an apogee of about 20,000km.
Provided this mission is a hit and resolves the lacquer issue, SpaceX will then proceed with its second crewed launch, that of a Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, alongside with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission specialist Sôichi Noguchi, to the International Space Station. That mission is presently scheduled for November 14.
And finally, SpaceX has one other mission for NASA scheduled for no sooner than November 21, the launch of the Earth-observing Sentinel-6 spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Even as it has investigated the lacquer issue, SpaceX has been ready to fly its flight-confirmed rockets as a result of these first phases had already been proven to be not affected by the manufacturing issue. It is additionally price noting that each the Space Force and NASA have come to agreements with SpaceX to fly their missions on used first phases for future missions.
Provided this night’s GPS III mission lifts off—the current weather forecast helps a 60 p.c likelihood of favorable situations—SpaceX will try to land the primary stage on its Of Course I Still Love You droneship. The firm’s launch webcast beneath ought to start about quarter-hour earlier than the launch window opens.
Listing picture by Trevor Mahlmann for Ars