Update: Today’s launch has been scrubbed due to “a tiny glitch in the motion of an upper stage engine actuator.”
Following a successful static fire on Tuesday, SpaceX is getting set for an early evening launch of the Thaicom 8 communications satellite out of Cape Canaveral.
Liftoff is scheduled for 5:40 PM EDT, at the beginning of a 2 hour launch window, with a backup date reserved for tomorrow, May 27th at the same time.
Built by Orbital ATK on its popular Geostar-2 platform, the 3,100 kg satellite will be lofted on a supersynchronous transfer orbit, and deployed from the Falcon 9’s second stage approximately 32 minutes after liftoff. The final orbital destination of 78.5 degrees East will be achieved through a series of orbital reduction maneuvers to begin what is expected to be a 15 year lifespan providing Ku band services to Asia.
This evening’s launch will feature another “experimental” ocean landing attempt aboard the automated spaceport drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You,” stationed off the Bahamas. Compared to the last landing, which was a surprising success given the launch conditions, but nevertheless resulted in excessive heat damage to the Falcon 9 first stage for the same reasons, today’s effort will take place in daylight, and with increased available propellant margin due to the lower payload mass.
As a result, if a recovery is achieved, it might help delineate the current line between when a stage can be recovered with the expectation of re-use, and when it cannot.
Overall the weather forecast for toady’s launch is excellent, with only a 10% chance of n0-go conditions, but varying winds and cumulus clouds do impose a 30% chance of a temporary launch delay. Marine weather in the landing zone is generally favorable as well, with winds at 15-20 kt and seas running a placid 4 ft.