AsiaSat 8 Counts on August 5: Image Credit SpaceX
After slipping the launch of AsiaSat 6 by 24 hours to further examine data from Friday’s F-9R test mishap in Texas, SpaceX appears to be counting down to a liftoff scheduled to take place at 12:50 AM EDT on Wednesday.
Assuming the schedule holds, this flight will come only 22 days after the company’s most recent launch, that of sister spacecraft AsiaSat 8 on August 5. And that launch came only 22 days after the flight of the Orbcomm 2 mission on July 14.
There is a significant point here. Despite all the negative press generated by Friday’s testing failure at the McGregor development facility, the more, and perhaps only, remaining credible knock against SpaceX has been a seemingly inability to regularly meet a launch schedule. It is a problem aggravated by two factors; the need to make an instantaneous launch window for resupply missions to the International Space Station, and somewhat ironically, its overall success in building a huge launch manifest in the first place.
Now, with the impending launch for AsiaSat 6, SpaceX has the opportunity to unambiguously demonstrate its ability to get Falcon 9’s off the pad at SLC-40 at a pace approaching every three weeks when required.
With construction for a commercial launch site in Texas getting underway, and a long term lease signed for the Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A from which it will launch NASA missions, it is a statistic which is likely to be of major concern for potential competitors. Provided the 100% mission success record stays intact, and the factory can keep up, a launch campaign which seemed to have so much trouble getting underway in the spring of 2014, appears to be hitting its stride in the second half of the year.