SpaceX launches Turkish satellite from Cape Canaveral

Forecast showed 80% chance of favorable weather late Saturday

SpaceX launches Falcon 9 Rocket

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space Force weather forecasters anticipated favorable conditions for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Turkish communications satellite this weekend.

Conditions around Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Launch Complex 40, Space Launch Delta 45 said, were 80% “go” for liftoff at 10:58 p.m. ET Saturday, according to News 6 partner Florida Today. Teams had a 90-minute window to launch the 230-foot rocket.

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Risks posed by upper-level winds and conditions in the Atlantic Ocean for a drone ship recovery were both noted as “low risk.”

For this launch, spectators should note the trajectory differs from the typical northeast flight path: after liftoff, Falcon 9 will pivot engines and fly straight out east over the Atlantic to eventually deliver Turksat-5B to geostationary orbit some 22,200 miles above Earth.

The roughly 10,000-pound satellite marks the last outsourced spacecraft for Turkey, which was built by Airbus Defense and Space in France. Officials recently said some communications components were produced domestically in Turkey for integration onto 5B.

The satellite will serve commercial and government purposes as well as offer some services to surrounding countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

The gradual shift to domestic production paves the way for Turksat 6A and 6B, the country’s first home-built satellites. Both of those are also slated to launch from Florida on Falcon 9 rockets beginning in 2023.

Launch Saturday, Dec. 18

  • Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
  • Mission: Turksat-5B communications satellite
  • Launch Time: 10:58 p.m. EST
  • Launch Window: To 12:28 a.m. EST
  • Launch Complex: 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
  • Trajectory: East
  • Landing: Drone ship
  • Weather: 80% “go”