Cape Canaveral to attempt three rocket launches this week

For the first time in nearly two decades, Cape Canaveral will attempt to launch three rockets in one week. Scheduled for tomorrow, 27 August 2020, is a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy National Reconnaissance Office mission.

Then on Friday, 28 August, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will send the SAOCOM 1B satellite for Argentina’s space agency into orbit, followed by another Falcon 9 Starlink satellite launch on 30 August 2020.

Historic week for space launches

The commander of the 45th Space Wing that oversees the Florida space coast ranges, Brigadier General Doug Schiess, said told reporters today that it will be “historic” if it all works out.

The last time Cape Canaveral launched three rockets in the space of one week, was in 2001 when a Titan 4 launched on 6 August, followed by a Delta 2 on 8 August and the NASA Space Shuttle on 10 August.

But that’s not all. Schiess also confirmed that the current manifest includes 39 launches from the Florida Space Coast in 2020, compared to only 18 launches in 2019 and 24 launches in 2018.

2020 a busy year for spaceflight

He explained that the launches are increasing “due to national security space missions and a huge part due to our commercial missions”.

The manifest for the next three months includes a 30 September 2020 GPS satellite launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9, and another NRO mission on a ULA Atlas 5 at some point in October.

That same month, on the 23rd, SpaceX pencilled in the first operational launch of the Crew Dragon, while November will see a ULA Atlas 5 launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule uncrewed test mission.

SpaceX launch on 27 August

On Thursday, 27 August, Space will launch Argentina’s SAOCOM 1B. It’s an Earth observation satellite designed to provide radar imagery, which will fly a southerly trajectory over the poles.

Schiess said it’s the first polar orbit in decades. The last polar launch from Cape Canaveral was in February 1969 when the ESSA-9 meteorological satellite launched on a three-stage Delta rocket.

After launching SAOCOM 1B, SpaceX will attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster on land at Landing Zone 1, and not on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship.

Polar orbit trajectory poses no risk

It will be the first time since SpaceX flew the CRS-20 Commercial Resupply Service mission to the International Space Station in March 2020 that it will rely on a land recovery and not an ocean recovery.

Schiess confirmed that the Federal Aviation Administration approved the polar orbit launch, and that the southerly trajectory flight would not pose a threat to the populations of southern Florida or Cuba.

“We have done an extensive amount of work to make sure that we’re safe”.

Brigadier General Doug Schiess

We’ll add a live stream of the event closer to the launch window.

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