It’s a busy, busy month for SpaceX, as the company is gearing up for a streak of three commercial launches over the next three weeks, reports Space.com.
First up on SpaceX’s hectic schedule is another launch of its new “Block 5” Falcon 9 rocket. Slated for later tonight, the mission marks the second time that the Block 5 booster gets to flex its steel muscles, after its thundering debut on May 11.
On its maiden voyage, the Block 5 carried into space Bangladesh’s first communications satellite, Bangabandhu-1, the Inquisitr reported at the time.
This time around, it will be Canada’s Telstar 19V satellite that makes the trip to high, geostationary orbit atop a “Block 5” Falcon 9 rocket.
The powerful communications satellite, developed by Telesat, will soar to the heavens in the early hours of July 22, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Falcon 9 launch is scheduled to take place between 1:50 a.m. and 5:50 a.m. EDT (05:50 to 09:50 GMT), with the rocket taking off from Launch Complex 40.
Both SpaceX and Space.com are broadcasting live coverage of tonight’s Falcon 9 launch, so you can tune in on either website to see the rocket blast off into space.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) July 21, 2018
According to Patrick Air Force Base, there’s a 60 percent chance that SpaceX will run into launch-favorable weather in Florida on Saturday night (early Sunday morning), as per a weather forecast published on Friday by the base’s 45th Space Wing. In case the rocket launch falls through (SpaceX might be encountering thick clouds that could be problematic), the next available launch window starts on Sunday night (early Monday morning).
The Telstar 19V satellite will be traveling atop a brand-new Block 5 booster, even though SpaceX has managed to retrieve the previously used first stage after the May 11 rocket launch, notes Space.com.
Just like with Block 5’s first-ever spaceflight, the first stage will be making an ocean landing after delivering its satellite payload and is set to touch down on a SpaceX “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship.
In preparation for tonight’s launch, SpaceX performed a test-fire of the two-stage Falcon 9 earlier this week, which the rocket passed with flying colors on July 18, Spaceflight Now reports.
— Perth Observatory (@perthobs) July 21, 2018
The company fired the nine Merlin engines on the rocket’s first stage at full power, clearing the booster for launch.
“Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete — targeting early morning launch on Sunday, July 22 of Telstar 19 VANTAGE from Pad 40 in Florida,” SpaceX announced on Twitter on July 19.
Meanwhile, Telesat touted that its new Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite will be providing access to “high performing broadband networks across the Americas and Atlantic,” by orbiting our planet in a way that follows Earth’s rotation and allows it to continuously hover over the same spot.
Next up for the private space company is the July 25 launch of 10 Iridium Next satellites, which will be taking off on the Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
After that, it’s back to Florida in early August, to launch a communications satellite for Telkom Indonesia from Cape Canaveral on August 2.