Following a successful campaign in 2018, which included a record 21 missions, SpaceX returns to the launch pad on Friday for its first mission of the new year. The instant launch window opens at 10:31 am ET (03:31 UTC).
This will be the eighth and final launch of SpaceX to build a constellation of 75 modern communications satellites for Iridium. For this mission, SpaceX will launch 10 of the Iridium NEXT satellites into a low polar orbit of Earth.
The first stage of this mission flew in September, launching the Telstar 18 Vantage mission into geostationary transfer orbit. It made an oceanic landing on the target in relatively high seas during the Atlantic hurricane season. This time, the rocket will attempt to land on the droneship Just read the instructions parked in the Pacific Ocean.
In short, this should be a pretty standard mission for SpaceX, with no crazy flight profiles or experimental tests. After all, a Falcon 9 rocket has flown this mission roughly seven times previously, and this first phase is "proven" in the sense that it once flew.
SpaceX is not expected to attempt a payload recovery because the company is still perfecting its procedure to do so. In addition to studying data from previous releases, SpaceX has been taking a half-fairing off a helicopter off the coast of California and trying to catch it with the ship. Mr. Steven. Earlier this week, the company released some quite arresting footage of one of these tests.
After 18 missions in 2017 and 21 missions in 2018, it is not known how many rocket launches SpaceX will target in 2019. However, a reasonable guess is that the company will attempt 16 to 20 Falcon 9 launches and two to three Falcon Heavy.
A webcast for the Friday morning launch attempt should start about 15 minutes before the launch window opens. Inclement weather (a 60 percent chance of favorable conditions) or a technical problem that prevents a launch attempt, SpaceX has a backup window available on Saturday morning at 15:25 UTC.