Upcoming missions for United Launch Alliance and SpaceX will mean another busy launch schedule at Cape Canaveral.
First up, United Launch Alliance on Sunday is targeting a middle-of-the-night launch window to send up a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. From the Cape’s launch complex 37B, the NROL-44 satellite will launch at 12:01 a.m. atop ULA’s Delta IV Heavy, a powerful rocket with three engines.
The last time ULA tried this launch, it was aborted with just three seconds left in the countdown. The company later said it was because of a torn piece of equipment that helps regulate pressure. ULA was slated to try again Saturday, but the launch was again delayed because of an issue with the arm retraction system, which pulls away from the rocket just before liftoff.
Then, on Monday, SpaceX will be sending up a mission of its own, carrying another batch of the company’s Starlink satellites. Between 10:12 a.m. and 10:33 a.m., a Falcon 9 rocket will lift from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A about 60 of the 570-pound satellites.
It’s one of many Starlink missions SpaceX has undertaken since starting the program last May. The goal is to create a constellation of satellites orbiting the Earth that can provide affordable internet for even remote parts of the world. If this next launch is successful, it will bring the number of satellites in place to about 750.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said he hopes to have 1,500 satellites in place by the end of the year, enough to provide coverage for all of North America, and near global coverage by 2021.
SpaceX will also attempt another launch on Tuesday, with a window opening at 9:55 p.m. — an updated GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force built by Lockheed Martin. Called GPS III SV-04, it will also launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, but this time from Cape’s Launch Complex 40.
Weather for the launch is at 80% “go,” and there is a backup window 24 hours later with weather at 60%.
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United Launch Alliance, Delta IV Heavy, Rocket, SpaceX, Reconnaissance satellite, Cape Canaveral
World news – US – ULA launching spy satellite Sunday; SpaceX attempting another Starlink launch Monday