SpaceX scrubs Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg, will try again Thursday

Pablo Tucker
February 22, 2018

SpaceX has saved one of its payload fairings before: In March 2017, the company launched a previously used Falcon 9 rocket to carry a payload - a communications satellite created to provide TV, internet and other services to people in Latin America. And last week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai gave SpaceX's internet ambitions a nudge by urging the FCC to approve SpaceX's broader internet proposal.

Tomorrow, on February 22nd, SpaceX Falcon 9 will be launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force base. The instantaneous launch window opens (and closes) at 9:17am ET Wednesday, and weather conditions forecast for the launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, are 90-percent favorable.

A KTLA viewer submitted this photo a SpaceX rocket launch seen over Fountain Valley.

While they continue to work on fairing recovery, Wednesday's rocket launch already embody the successful recoveries made by SpaceX. It will provide imagery for both commercial and government uses, according to a mission description.

"Today's Falcon launch carries 2 SpaceX test satellites for global broadband", Musk wrote on Twitter.

SpaceX plans to start launching operational satellites next year, with an eye toward starting limited service by 2020.

The company has been relatively mum about the debut of its Starlink satellites, and about the entire program itself. Given that each pair of fairings costs the company several million dollars, being able to recover them and reuse them would make their satellite launches even cheaper. According to the plan, from 2019 to 2024 SpaceX will orbit 4425 such satellites for Internet distribution. SpaceX aims to provide fastest, prevalent and affordable internet access across all parts of the world.

The Paz satellite is scheduled to deploy about 11 minutes after launch.

Some 4,425 satellites will sit at low earth orbit (LEO), an estimate of 1150 to 1325 kilometers above Earth, while another 7,518 satellites will be launched into very-low-earth orbits (VLEO), some 335 to 346 kilometers above Earth. Also, the first-stage booster which was used to launch Taiwan's Formosat-5 satellite in August 2017 is ready.

Of course, it also depends on a lot of other factors such as the availability of the required technology and human's expertise to land tons of payloads on a small rock while adjusting thrust between low-Earth orbit and an asteroid's orbit.

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