A huge U.S.-built, Canadian-owned communications satellite weighing 15,600 pounds, the heaviest spacecraft of its kind ever launched, is mounted to a Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff early Sunday from Cape Canaveral on a heavy-lifting mission that previously would have required SpaceX to throw away the launcher’s first stage booster.
The launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, on the verge of kicking off a seven-year mission culminating in passages through the sun’s atmosphere, has been delayed to Aug. 6 to resolve a technical snag encountered during encapsulation of the spacecraft inside the nose shroud of its United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket.
A series of unprecedented back-to-back test-firings of a rocket engine originally developed for NASA’s space shuttle concluded earlier this month, giving engineers data crucial to achieving rapid 24-hour turnarounds planned for a U.S. military-funded reusable winged booster under construction at Boeing, government and industry officials said.
SpaceX is preparing this week for the second flight of the upgraded “Block 5” version of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, and a hold-down firing of the booster was accomplished Wednesday at Cape Canaveral ahead of a middle-of-the-night launch this weekend with a Canadian-owned commercial communications satellite. The static fire test occurred at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) Wednesday.