There’s no stopping SpaceX even after a back-to-back launch last weekend. Barely two weeks after it successfully launched and landed its second Falcon 9 rocket in just roughly 48 hours, the Elon Musk-owned company is at it again, likely launching its next mission as soon as July 2.
Blasting off from the Kennedy Space Center of NASA in Florida, the third Falcon 9 mission will involve an Intelsat communications satellite.
Sunday Launch Details
The launch customer, Intelsat, has confirmed the schedule for this coming Sunday.
The newly confirmed mission follows SpaceX’s June 25 feat in California, where it blasted off a payload of 10 satellites to push forward the agenda of global satellite telecommunications provider Iridium to form a global network. This came only two days after SpaceX launched Bulgaria’s first communications satellite into orbit from Pad 39A of Kennedy Space Center.
The space firm will conduct a routine hold-down hotfire test of the nine Merlin 1D engines of the rocket as early as Thursday, Spaceflight Now reported. A spokesperson from Intelsat also confirmed that the one-hour launch window on Sunday will open at 7:36 p.m. EDT.
If it takes off on that day, SpaceX will mark its third launch in a bit over nine days.
Built by Boeing, the Sunday mission’s payload Intelsat 35e satellite is designed for delivering broadband data, Ultra HD TV broadcasts, as well as related services for mobile and government entities. It’s the fourth in the company’s Epic series that features a completely digital communications payload reconfigurable by ground controllers for better market response.
The satellite, which will offer trans-Atlantic communications links and will reach customers as far as Latin America and Africa, will be replacing the same company’s 903 communications satellite that was launched back in 2002 on board a Russian-owned Proton rocket.
SpaceX Is On A Reusable Rocket Launch Roll
Musk’s space enterprise is coming off back-to-back Falcon 9 rocket launches taking off last Friday and Sunday, both featuring landings of the rocket’s first stage booster on a drone ship at sea.
As the satellite for the Sunday launch is heavy, it’s anticipated to hinder the recovery of the first stage.
Following the Intelsat satellite flight, the next Falcon 9 mission is slated for no earlier than Aug. 10, marking the next resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS). Two more rocket launches at the least will occur in the same month, involving a U.S. Air Force space plane and an Earth observation satellite.
SpaceX also seeks to expand its facilities in Florida to refurbish as well as store its reusable rocket boosters as its pace of launches is fast accelerating. As revealed by documents filed with authorities, it proposes the construction of a 67,222-square-foot hangar south of its launch sites in Cape Canaveral for the said purpose.
"Right now, we have that work dispersed at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This will allow us to consolidate and work more efficiently," said company spokesperson John Taylor.
SpaceX’s reusable rocket technology is seen as a feat in affordable, efficient space exploration, a concept developed by the company to slash costs in rocket manufacturing, engineering, and launching. This has never been done before.