A SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher boosted a 4.7-ton military-grade communications satellite for SES and the Luxembourg government toward a perch 22,300 miles over the equator following a spectacular late afternoon liftoff Tuesday from Florida’s Space Coast, clearing the last mission off the launch company’s manifest before the long-awaited debut of the massive Falcon Heavy rocket.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched at 4:25 p.m. EST (2125 GMT) Wednesday from Cape Canaveral with the GovSat 1 communications satellite, a military-grade craft to relay signals for Luxembourg and allied nations. SpaceX’s launch team scrubbed an attempt Tuesday to replace a transducer on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and wait for improved weather conditions.
A communications satellite developed in a public-private partnership between Luxembourg government and SES is set for launch Tuesday aboard a previously-flown SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Cape Canaveral, ready for a 15-year mission beaming encrypted, jam-resistant signals for security and military forces across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Ground crews took steps this week to prepare for the next Falcon 9 launch, set for no earlier than Jan. 30 with a telecom satellite for SES and the Luxembourg government, as SpaceX officials stressed their rocket was not to blame for the rumored loss of a mysterious U.S. government payload after liftoff Sunday.
In a reshuffling of SpaceX’s launch schedule, a Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff no earlier than Dec. 8 on a mission to deliver several tons of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station and return to service a Cape Canaveral launch pad damaged in a catastrophic rocket explosion last year.