48ºF

SpaceX targeting Thursday afternoon launch, landing

SpaceX may test-fire engines Monday

The Thaicom 8 communications satellite, built by Orbital ATK, is targeting a May 26 launch from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.  (Photo: Orbital ATK)
The Thaicom 8 communications satellite, built by Orbital ATK, is targeting a May 26 launch from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. (Photo: Orbital ATK)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX may fire up a Falcon 9 rocket's engines on Monday in a test preparing for a planned 5:40 p.m. Thursday blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

News 6 partner Florida Today reports that the launch of a Thai communications satellite — and an attempted rocket landing to follow — should look much like SpaceX's May 6 launch of a Japanese communications satellite, but with the action unfolding in daylight instead of darkness.

The roughly 7,000-pound Thaicom 8 satellite built by Orbital ATK will beam TV channels and Internet service to Thailand, India and parts of Africa from a position 22,300 miles above the equator.

After separating from the rocket's upper stage, the Falcon 9 booster will dive toward an unpiloted SpaceX "drone ship" floating offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, hoping to make it three consecutive missions with successful booster landings at sea.

The Falcon 9 flies faster on missions launching communications satellites to high orbits, increasing landings' degree of difficulty.

The launch is SpaceX's fifth this year, and the 25th by a Falcon 9 since its debut in 2010, including one failure last summer.