With construction already underway at Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A on facilities for SpaceX’s next-generation Starship vehicle, another new fixture could soon rise at the seaside launch complex to satisfy U.S. military requirements to vertically integrate sensitive top secret spy satellites with Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.
SpaceX teams across the United States are readying for what the company’s chief operating officer predicts will be a record number of launches in 2020. Before the end of January, SpaceX aims to perform four Falcon 9 launches from Florida’s Space Coast — three for the company’s Starlink broadband network, and a crucial in-flight abort test for the Crew Dragon spacecraft no earlier than Jan. 11.
A hefty communications satellite built by Boeing and launched by SpaceX Monday night from Cape Canaveral is on the way to a lofty perch more than 22,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean, where a startup named Kacific will use it to link remote populations seeking connectivity for health clinics, schools and other basic services.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 7:10 p.m. EST Monday (0010 GMT Tuesday) with the JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite, heading for a position in geostationary orbit to beam broadband signals across the Asia-Pacific. The launcher deployed the satellite into an on-target orbit, and the first stage returned to land on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.