SpaceX has delayed the launch of its SES 12 commercial communications satellite from Cape Canaveral by three days to run additional tests on the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, the company announced on Twitter on Thursday.
Although SpaceX pointed out that the rocket and payload are operating well, the delay was deemed necessary because engineers wanted to run additional tests on Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage. The launch will take place early morning on Monday.
As reported by Space Flight Now, SpaceX test fired the first stage of Falcon 9 for the current mission last week, and since then had enclosed the commercial telecom payload and attached it to the launcher.
The first stage of Space X’s Falcon 9, which is to launch with the SES 12, was used to send the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane toward orbit from the Kennedy Space Center last September. As noted, Monday’s launch will be the 13th time that SpaceX will use the previously-flown booster.
There are no plans in place to recover the first stage of Monday’s launch primarily because the booster was designed using an earlier version of the Falcon 9 rocket, also known as “Block 4.” The second stage of the rocket, on which the additional tests are to be run over the weekend, is based on a more refined “Block 5” design of the rocket.
The Falcon 9 — the workhorse commercial booster it has proved to be for SpaceX since its debut in 2010 — has already sent 55 missions to space in eight years. Furthermore, the latest SpaceX launch will mark the 11th mission Elon Musk’s company would make this year.
Falcon 9 fairing halves deployed their parafoils and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean last week after the launch of Iridium-6/GRACE-FO. Closest half was ~50m from SpaceX’s recovery ship, Mr. Steven. https://t.co/JS7d5zTdIg pic.twitter.com/LjiTwnB4wd— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 31, 2018
The SES 12 communications satellite, which has been constructed by Airbus, will connect the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific, and Australia with Ku-band beams, helping provide video and data relay, television broadcast, in addition to aiding government services. Also with the aforementioned payload, SES 12 carries 72 high-throughput beams tailored for broadband connectivity, as well as an on-board digital processor to adjust bandwidth in order to fulfill the demands of a fast-changing internet landscape.
The weather on Friday for the previously scheduled SpaceX launch was considered favorable, as predicted by the forecasters from the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. It appears Sunday was ruled out because of difficult weather, but forecasters predict a “70 percent probability of favorable weather” for the launch on Monday although they caution that liftoff winds could be a problem.
“On Sunday, a weak surface boundary begins to move into the Southeast U.S., increasing the pressure gradient over the Space Coast. Winds will become gusty out of the west-southwest as the front approaches northern Florida during the launch window. The primary weather concern for the launch window on 4 June is liftoff winds.”
The exact time of the SpaceX launch is 12:29 am on Monday and can be seen by Floridians through viewing opportunities available here.