SpaceX will be launching its second Falcon 9 rocket from Complex 39A, their leased compound of the Kennedy Space Center, on Tuesday, March 14, at 5:34 a.m.
It will put the EchoStar 23 communications satellite into orbit, and because the payload is so heavy, the rocket’s first stage will not be recovered, as the rocket needs as much fuel as possible to accomplish its mission. So far, SpaceX has managed to recover eight Falcon 9 first stages, and they plan to reuse their boosters on their upcoming launches.
SpaceX is launching its Falcon 9 without intending on recovering it
This will be SpaceX’s third launch of the year, and the second performed from Pad 39A, the same launch pad that NASA used for Apollo moon and space shuttle missions. The launch was initially planned for 2016, but the flight was delayed and had to be rescheduled alongside other launches that were planned for Q1 2017.
EchoStar is a communication satellite company based in Colorado. The EchoStar 23 satellite will provide television broadcast services in Brazil for at least 15 years. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers the closest public viewing of launches for whoever buys a ticket, but because the launch will take place at 1:34 a.m. local time, visitors won’t be allowed within the premises.
The Falcon 9 is SpaceX’s flagship two-stage rocket, meant for transporting satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. The first stage of a Falcon 9 comprehends nine engines and tanks of liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene to serve as fuel. The second stage has a single engine, and it helps bring the Falcon 9’s payload to its target orbit. The space vehicle will use its thrusters to hover 22,000 miles over the equator, situating itself over the geostationary orbit.
EchoStar was meant to sign the agreement with Brazilian TV operator GVT in 2013, which would have resulted in an earlier launch of the satellite TV service. The EchoStar 23 is a Ku-band satellite, with four main reflectors and multiple sub-reflectors. It tips the scales at 12,100 pounds, and its build is based upon the SSL-1300 spacecraft platform.
Initially, the launch was planned for 2016, but after the September 1 explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket alongside its cargo, the flight was suspended until the cause of the event was determined. Also, the EchoStar 23 was thought to be launched before the CRS-10 International Space Station resupply mission, but they switched places in the priority list due to the EchoStar 23 required additional testing.
The Space Launch Complex 40 was where SpaceX initially launched its Falcon 9 rockets, but it remains out of service due to damages caused by the September 1 explosion. It is expected to be fully repaired by Summer 2017.
The rocket that would be used for the upcoming launch was situated for a static fire test on March 7; this is to fully fuel the rocket and ignite it for three seconds to ensure that all of its mechanisms are working properly.