SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to launch Earth observation satellite [live stream]

SpaceX confirmed that it’s targetting the launch of a SAOCOM 1B Observation satellite on the Falcon 9 rocket this weekend. Watch the live stream here.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch: What you need to know

Date and time

The launch has been confirmed for 19:18 Eastern Time (ET) on Sunday 30 August. If you’re watching from South Africa, that would be 1:18 SAST on Monday, 31 August 2020.

It will lift off from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) launchpad in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At the time of publishing, the weather “continues to be 40% favourable for liftoff”.

If anything goes wrong, a backup launch opportunity will be available on Monday, 31 August at 19:19 Eastern Time, or 23:19 UTC and 1:19 South African Standard time on Tuesday, 1 September 2020.

Double-header delayed

SpaceX initially planned to launch the eleventh batch of Starlink satellites on 30 August as well; however, the Starlink mission was delayed due to inclement weather. The mission was postponed to 1 September.

If all goes according to plan, the SAOCOM mission will see the Falcon 9 rocket head south over the Atlantic Ocean, while most Florida launches go east. The spacecraft will pass over Cuba.

According to UPI, the first stage booster “will fly back for recovery near the Air Force station, likely creating a sonic boom”.

Watch: SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

This stream will go live at 1:20.

Disclaimer: At this point, with 40% favourable weather for the SAOCOM 1B launch tonight, it may still be postponed.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch: Mission details

Falcon 9’s launch of the SAOCOM 1B mission will carry the SAOCOM 1B spacecraft to orbit in addition to two rideshare payloads, Tyvak-0172 and PlanetiQ’s GNOMES-1.

SAOCOM, which is short for Satélite Argentino de Observación COn Microondas, is an Earth observation satellite constellation of Argentina’s space agency CONAE (Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales).

The first of two satellites are already orbiting the Earth in a polar orbit.

“This mission marks SpaceX’s first launch to a polar orbit from the East Coast, and the first polar launch from Florida in decades.”

Once stage separation has been achieved, SpaceX will land the Falcon 9 on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SAOCOM 1B will deploy approximately 14 minutes after launch.

In addition, the GNOMES-1 and Tyvak-0172 will deploy approximately 61 and 62 minutes after liftoff.

Falcon 9’s track record

According to SpaceX, the Falcon 9’s first stage previously launched Dragon to the International Space Station for SpaceX’s 19th and 20th commercial resupply missions, and it also supported the launch of SpaceX’s ninth Starlink mission.

Our coverage of Falcon 9 can be found here. Notable Falcon 9 flights include:

  • Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit, the first flight of Falcon 9 and the first test of Dragon (Fight 1)
  • Dragon C2+, first cargo delivery to the International Space Station (Flight 3)
  • CASSIOPE, first v1.1 rocket, the first launch from Vandenberg, the first attempt at propulsive return of the first stage (Flight 6)
  • SES-8, first launch to GTO, first commercial payload (communications satellite) (Flight 7)
  • CRS-3, added landing legs, first fully controlled descent and vertical ocean touchdown (Flight 9)
  • DSCOVR, first mission passing escape velocity to the L1 point (Flight 15)
  • CRS-7, total loss of mission due to structural failure and helium overpressure in the second stage (Flight 19)
  • Orbcomm OG-2, the first vertical landing of an orbital-class rocket (Flight 20)
  • CRS-8, first vertical landing achieved on an autonomous spaceport drone ship at sea (Flight 23)
  • Amos-6, total vehicle and payload loss prior to static fire test (would have been Flight 29)
  • CRS-10, first launch from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center (Flight 30)
  • SES-10, first re-flight of a previously flown orbital-class booster (B1021, previously used for CRS-8), first recovery of a fairing (Flight 32)
  • Boeing X-37B OTV-5, the first launch of a spaceplane (Flight 41)
  •  Bangabandhu-1, first flight of the Block 5 version (Flight 54)
  • Telstar 19V, heaviest communications satellite ever delivered to GEO (Flight 58)
  • Crew Dragon Demo-1, the first launch of the Crew Dragon (Flight 69)
  • RADARSAT Constellation, the most valuable commercial payload put into orbit (Flight 72)
  • Crew Dragon Demo-2, first crewed launch of the Crew Dragon (Flight 85)

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