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SpaceX 1-for-2 as weather cooperates for night launch of Falcon 9 from Space Coast

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 11/22/2022 Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel

Now that Artemis I has cleared the pad, SpaceX is back to spitting out Falcon 9 rockets left and right from the Space Coast.

Weather stymied the first of two launch attempts on Tuesday afternoon scrubbing a mission from Kennedy Space Center to send cargo to the International Space Station, but cleared enough for a successful launch from nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Tuesday night.

A Falcon 9 using the oldest active first-stage booster was able to lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at 9:57 p.m. on the Eutelsat 10B mission to add another satellite for the French satellite operator to a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

It was the final flight for the booster, which was first used in 2018 and was flying for the 11th time. It did not come back in for a landing, as all of its thrust was needed to get its customer’s satellite to the desired orbit.

Weather was looking dicey for the night launch, as it earlier scrubbed an attempt from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39-A for a resupply mission to the ISS. NASA and SpaceX will now hold off any attempt to send the cargo Dragon capsule to the ISS until a backup launch opportunity on Saturday at 2:20 p.m. or Sunday at 1:58 p.m. The Space Launch Delta 45 weather squadron predicts an 80% chance for good launch conditions Saturday and 50% on Sunday.

When it launches, the first-stage booster, being flown for the first time, will attempt a landing on SpaceX’s droneship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean.

This will also be the first flight of this cargo Dragon. Among the 7,700 pounds of supplies, it’s bringing up a pair of rollout solar arrays to help with power supply on the station. Also among the investigations heading up are a study to grow dwarf tomatoes and the BioNutrients-2 test, which makes on-demand nutrients from a combination of yogurt, a yeast-based beverage and kefir, a fermented milk drink. The Dragon will stay docked to the station for about a month before returning with research and cargo for a splashdown off the coast of Florida.

If both missions manage liftoff this week, they would mark 52 launches in 47 weeks for the Space Coast this year.

The Artemis I mission that used the massive Space Launch System rocket to send the Orion space capsule into orbit lifted off last Wednesday, and marked the 50th launch from either KSC or Canaveral.

“It’s pretty incredible that a major milestone launch like Artemis ended up as our 50th launch this year,” said Space Coast Office of Tourism Public Relations Manager Meagan Happel. “Artemis is of course the beginning of a new era of space exploration and the largest and most powerful rocket to ever launch from the Space Coast. Not only that, but it launched a couple of weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 17, the final mission of the Apollo program making this such a full-circle moment.”

Of the 50, NASA’s SLS was joined by two launches from Astra Space, six from United Launch Alliance and 41 from SpaceX including one from its Falcon Heavy rocket that flew for only the fourth time. In the coming year, new rocket company Relativity Space is expected to fly with its Terran-1 rocket already testing at CCSFS while Blue Origin continues efforts to get its massive New Glenn rocket ready for its first launch. Meanwhile, ULA will debut its new Vulcan Centaur rocket.

“With so many launch providers and programs, we don’t see this launch cadence slowing any time soon,” Happel said. “That’s wonderful news for our visitors who can have a high likelihood of seeing a launch, possibly multiple, on their vacations.”

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