SpaceX targets Thursday afternoon Falcon 9 liftoff

Falcon 9 rocket set for 3:46 p.m. launch from Kennedy Space Center

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands tall on NASA's Kennedy Space Center pad 39A. SpaceX is targeting Friday at 3:46 p.m. to launch a communications satellite for Qatar. (Photo: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - SpaceX is set to launch the first mission in six months Thursday that won’t require an alarm clock to wake up to see. It also marks the first launch in under 24 hours from the East Coast from different NASA launch pads.

After a successful ground engine test Monday, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch Thursday afternoon with Qatar’s Es’hail 2 communications satellite from the historic pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The satellite will provide television and broadband internet to Qatar, parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

🚀 Watch the countdown live at the top of this story beginning at 3:30 p.m.

The timing and weather will be optimal for people headed to the Space Coast to view the liftoff. Since May, all launches by SpaceX and United Launch Alliance have taken place late at night or pre-dawn hours.

The launch window opens at 3:46 p.m. and closes just before sunset at 5:29 p.m. Thursday’s high is 78 degrees and rain chances are about 30 percent.

Air Force weather officials are predicting a 60 percent chance of favorable weather come launch time Thursday. If liftoff delays to Friday, conditions improve to 90 percent. However, launch watchers should dress warmly because a cool front will drop temperatures significantly. The high on Friday is 66 degrees, with lows in the 40s.

After launch, SpaceX plans to land its Falcon 9 booster on a drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic Ocean.

On Friday -- about 12 hours later-- Northrop Grumman will launch a cargo ship with more than 7,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station from NASA's Flight Center in Wallops Island, Virginia. The Antares rocket liftoff is on target for a for 4:23 a.m. ignition. The launch was delayed from Thursday morning due to poor weather conditions.

The launch will mark SpaceX's 18th this year and Northrop Grumman's 10th supply run for NASA to the International Space Station.

 

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