For Full Story: Florida Today
Article By: Emre Kelly
SpaceX teams at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are targeting next week for an expendable Falcon 9 mission slated to boost a large commercial communications satellite to geostationary orbit.
Next Thursday’s window at Launch Complex 40 will be a late one: 12:29 a.m. marks the opening, and teams will have about an hour-and-a-half to launch the rocket, which previously hosted the Air Force’s secretive X-37B mini-shuttle last September as Hurricane Irma raced toward a Florida landfall.
SpaceX confirmed that a routine, brief test firing of the rocket’s nine Merlin main engines on Thursday night was successful. An update on weather conditions, meanwhile, will be released by the Air Force early next week.
Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES contracted SpaceX for the mission, known as SES-12. The nearly 11,000-pound satellite will become the largest in the SES fleet when it reaches orbit and will provide communications services to the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region.
SpaceX, however, will not attempt a drone ship or Cape Canaveral landing for the booster, which has met the end of its lifespan – the company is now in “Block 5” mode, which is the latest version of its Falcon 9 rocket. It features expanded reusability capabilities, more thrust and at least 10 re-flights per rocket where the older Block 4 only offered up to two. SES-12 will mark one of the final Block 4 missions.