SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center on 1st ‘Bandwagon’ mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A on the Bandwagon-1 rideshare mission on April 7, 2024. Image: Adam Bernstein

SpaceX launched the first in a new series of rideshare missions that it dubbed “Bandwagon.” The 11 satellites rode onboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Liftoff occurred at 7:16 p.m. EDT (2316 UTC). A day before the mission, the 45th Weather Squadron forecast better than 95 percent odds of favorable conditions at launch time.

Like the “Transporter” rideshare flights, the Falcon 9 rocket for the Bandwagon-1 mission launched with a batch of satellites, which were deployed over a period of time. However, SpaceX did not disclose the timing of the deployments as it typically does with Transporter missions.

This was likely due to the presence of the South Korean Project 425 SAR (synthetic aperture radar) satellites on board. A SpaceX commentator said during the broadcast that they were ending their stream early and without views of the payload “at the request of our customer.” The last time SpaceX launched a batch of these satellites, it also withheld timing information on spacecraft deployment.

In addition to the 425Sat payload, the 10 other spacecraft included the following:

  • HawkEye 360’s Clusters 8 & 9 (three satellites per cluster)
  • Tyvak International’s CENTAURI-6
  • Capella Space’s Capella-14
  • Tata Advanced Systems Limited’s TSAT-1A

The first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1073 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for a 14th time on this mission. It’s previous flights included nine Starlink missions and the launch of space’s HAKUTO-R lunar lander.

Following stage separation, B1073 returned to Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station about seven and a half minutes into the flight.

This was the 40th landing at LZ-1 and the 294th booster landing to date.

Several minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 first stage booster, B1073 in the SpaceX fleet, returned for a touchdown at Landing Zone 1 on April 7, 2024. Image: Adam Bernstein

1 Comment

  1. This was amazing to see! It looked like a ball of fire racing into the sky. We were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when it launched we were prepared and set timers to remind us when to watch for it. We had everybody around us in Star Wars Land turning heads because of how excited we were! Can’t wait until the next takeoff!!!

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