One of the two Falcon 9 rockets SpaceX planned to take off in a span of less than five hours earlier this week will remain grounded indefinitely, preventing Cape Canaveral from hosting two launches on the same day for the first time in decades. But the military-run Eastern Range was ready for the back-to-back missions, and probably won’t have to wait long for the next chance for a launch doubleheader.
The U.S. Space Force has decided to delay the planned late February launch of two military satellites aboard a ULA Atlas 5 rocket to “evaluate readiness” of one of the payloads, giving officials a window to move forward the liftoff of an unpiloted test flight of Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule to no earlier than March 25.
SpaceX hurled a secret cargo into space for the U.S. government’s spy satellite agency Saturday, the 30th rocket launch to fly into Earth orbit from pads on Florida’s Space Coast in 2020. The Falcon 9 flight broke an annual record for missions to reach orbit from the Florida spaceport that stood for 54 years.
SpaceX’s final Falcon 9 launch of the year carried a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government’s spy satellite agency. SpaceX aborted a launch attempt Thursday morning to assess a second stage sensor reading, but the Falcon 9 successfully lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) Saturday. The rocket’s stage landed back at Cape Canaveral eight minutes later.