SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket and commercial communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday, a fiery kickoff to a week that will include yet another high-profile mission before the weekend.
Thirty-three minutes after Falcon 9′s 7:10 p.m. liftoff from Launch Complex 40, the JCSAT-18 / Kacific-1 communications satellite separated from the rocket’s upper stage, bringing a successful end to the mission, News 6 partner Florida Today reported. The spacecraft will provide communications coverage for Asia and the Pacific.
SpaceX also recovered the rocket’s first stage on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, marking its 47th successful landing since the first in December 2015. Attempts to recover the rocket’s fairing halves using net-equipped ships in the Atlantic, meanwhile, were not successful.
[Watch the launch in its entirety in the video player below]
Florida's famous winters delivered, too: Falcon 9 rumbled through 72 degrees of partly cloudy skies, giving spectators a clear view of the vehicle well beyond first stage separation. The booster's firings during descent toward the drone ship could also be seen with the naked eye.
Up next: Boeing and United Launch Alliance, which will launch an uncrewed Starliner capsule on an Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 at 6:36 a.m. Friday. The mission, labeled Orbital Flight Test, will demonstrate the capsule’s capabilities to carry astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
If all goes according plan during the eight-day stay at the ISS and subsequent landing in White Sands, New Mexico, Starliner could take astronauts to orbit as soon as the first half of next year.