SpaceX and the United States National Reconnaissance Office NRO are planing on launching another spy satellite on a flight proven first stage booster B-1059.5 from launch complex 39A at 9:00 AM or 6:00 AM PST or 14:00 UTC on December 17th 2020 with a three hour launch window as a weak cold front with showers approaches Cape Kennedy tonight.
This launch will be the 26th SpaceX launch in 2020 for a very active year even with a global pandemic slow down. This is also the first time the NRO has contracted to use a previously flown rocket booster to deliver one of its strategic payloads to space.
Before heading out to set up remote cameras around the launch pad media were treated to the transport of a ULA 2nd stage core for the NASA SLS mission to return to the moon which passed in front of the VAB building just after noon December 16th 2020 heading to another processing facility.
With cloudy skies at 2:30 PM EST SpaceX started raising the rocket and payload into a vertical position for tomorrows attempt.
This booster has flown and landed twice on the OCISLY drone ship and twice at Cape Canaveral on land at LZ-1. This mission also has an attempted RTLS at LZ-1 eight minutes 15 seconds after launch which will include the double sonic booms as the booster breaks the sound barrier upon reentry.
MaxQ maximum dynamic pressure will be at one minute 12 seconds after launch. First stage main engine cutoff will be at two minutes 18 seconds. First stage entry burn will be at six minutes 23 seconds with a the landing at LZ-1 just eight minutes 15 seconds after launch from LC-39A.
Foggy skies could be an issue with visibility for viewing and the weather forecast for launch is 70% good.
Article and Photos Credit: Scott Schilke for spacenews.lu