After several near-misses in tries to catch payload shrouds jettisoned from Falcon 9 rockets climbing into space, a high-speed boat tasked with retrieving the fairings for SpaceX to reuse has been upgraded and dispatched into the Pacific Ocean ahead of a launch Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force in California.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 1:50 a.m. EDT (0550 GMT) Sunday with the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite, a powerhouse spacecraft designed to beam broadband and in-flight WiFi signals across the Americas and the North Atlantic. The rocket’s first stage successfully landed at sea aboard SpaceX’s drone ship.
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.
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.