SpaceX on Track for Saturday Launch

Photo credit: SpaceX

After a Flight Readiness Review on Monday indicated conditions are “go,” SpaceX is counting down towards a Saturday morning launch for the next Falcon 9 mission. The next step, a static fire of the 9 Merlin 1-D first stage engines was scheduled to take place today. Barring any last minute problems, the booster is due to lift off with a payload of 6 Orbcomm OG2 satellites during a 54 minute launch window which opens at 9:47 am EDT.

The weather forecast for Cape Canaveral looks good, at an estimated 80% go for launch. Perhaps of even greater interest, the Marine forecast for offshore waters in the Cape Canaveral area looks excellent, with winds at 10 knots and gentle swells of 3-4 ft. In other words, conditions look nearly ideal for fishing…..a fully intact first stage out of the Atlantic before it becomes a permanent home for grouper.

With the landing zone closer to Cape Canaveral, and mostly clear skies in the area, both photography and telemetry should be significantly improved over the challenging conditions which confronted the previous April 18th recovery attempt.

Assuming the Falcon 9 makes a Saturday liftoff and delivers on mission success, an absolute must in the highly charged political and legal environment enveloping the launch industry, it would mark a 22 day turnaround time for SpaceX, relieving some of the pressure of a very full schedule. It would also demolish the best single pad turnaround time posted by United Launch Alliance, a 47 day stretch from May 4th to June 20th, 2012, which was recorded by the Atlas V at Cape Canaveral.

Much more to come.


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