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.
NASA and the U.S. Air Force are expected to return to normal operations Tuesday after lawmakers passed a budget bill Monday evening, ending a government funding lapse that threatened to cut off live television coverage of an International Space Station spacewalk and interrupt SpaceX launch operations in Florida and California.
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.