After four days of delays, including a bizarre cruise ship rage violation, SpaceX finally launched Italy’s Cosmo-Skymed Second Generation 2 satellite from Florida.
It seemed cursed but it finally launched
The four scrubs that SpaceX endured were due to several reasons. The first three were all due to local weather. Florida is an excellent location for launches… except when you need good weather. While it sucked to go through that many scrubs, we should be used to that by now. What we are not accustomed to are range violations.
Sunday evening’s weather was perfect, with less than 10% chance of weather violation. However, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship violated the range, sailing into the exclusion zone southwest of Port Canaveral. This is rare, and launches have been taking place for decades from Florida, so you would think those flying and sailing would know what to do when one occurs. But every so often, one happens, and yesterday the captain of the Harmony of the Seas took the ship into the rocket’s path, which made SpaceX abort the launch. The Coast Guard is currently investigating the matter.
Photos of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifting CSG-2 from SLC-40. Credit: Jared Locke / Space Explored
Last night, SpaceX had a completely green board for launch just after sunset. The once Falcon Heavy side booster lifted off from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Now only under the power of its nine Merlin engines, it took its payload out of the bulk of Earth’s atmosphere and began to perform its third RTLS landing.
This was booster 1052’s third flight and third successful landing back at LZ-1, the only booster to have all three of its landings take place back on land. It is also one of two Falcon 9 boosters to have three total RTLS landings under its belt.
Now begins three more launches this week
Going into the week, we planned for back-to-back-to-back Falcon 9 launches. Now, we are throwing in a fourth launch from Russia, which is most likely launching a Kosmos intelligence satellite on a Soyuz rocket. Also, instead of a launch today by SpaceX, the company seems to be attempting two launches tomorrow. SpaceX will attempt both the NROL-87 mission for the US Space Force and a Starlink launch with just a few hours between each other.
While they will be taking place from separate sides of the continent, NROL-87 launching from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and Starlink Group 4-7 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, this is still a feat only SpaceX can pull off so far.