Just three weeks after sending the THAICOM 8 communications satellite into orbit and successfully landing itself onto a floating drone ship, SpaceX is back with a new mission to launch a vertically stacked pair of Boeing telecommunications satellites into Geostationary Transfer Orbit for servicing of customers in Asia and Latin America. The mission is scheduled for Wednesday’s opening launch window at Cape Canaveral, Fl. beginning at 10:29 a.m. EDT (7:29 PDT).
Like previous missions, SpaceX will be using the massive Falcon 9 first stage rocket to launch today’s 5,000 payload into orbit before detaching itself from the satellites, and falling back to Earth where it will attempt to land on a floating droneship at sea. If it sounds familiar that’s because it is. If successful this will mark the fourth consecutive time SpaceX has successfully brought back its first stage rocket at sea.
The Boeing-built satellites will be stacked vertically inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. The two satellites will detach and separate from one another once in space. The uppermost satellite will detach first while the the bottom satellite is still attached to the second stage rocket. This will be followed by the final separation of the second satellite completing today’s mission.
This will be SpaceX’s sixth Falcon 9 launch this year proving that rapid fire space missions are not only possible, but commercial space flight can be made affordable especially if the first stage rocket is recovered, leading to a $60 million cost savings. Last month the Pentagon awarded SpaceX its first contract to send a military GPS satellite into orbit. The company will also attempt to launch its largest and world’s most powerful rocket the Falcon Heavy later this year.
Watch the livestream here.