CAPE CANAVERAL — SpaceX could return its Falcon 9 rocket to flight as soon as next week, a mission that would close out Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s 2015 launch campaign.
CEO Elon Musk on Thursday said the company was “aiming” to test-fire a Falcon 9’s main engines on Wednesday at Launch Complex 40, then launch “about three days later.”
The potential Dec. 19 launch would be SpaceX’s first since a Falcon 9 broke apart about two minutes into a June 28 launch of International Space Station cargo, a failure blamed so far on a strut in the rocket’s upper-stage oxidizer tank.
Orbcomm Inc., whose 11 OG2 satellites will ride to low Earth orbit on the upcoming launch, said the liftoff would occur between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET.
Orbcomm CEO Marc Eisenberg on Wednesday reported that the satellites were fueled, attached to their dispensers and waiting for SpaceX to confirm a launch date.
Also, on Thursday, Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES said its SES-9 communications satellite has arrived at Cape Canaveral, where it would be prepared for in mid-January to an orbit more than 22,000 miles above the equator.
SpaceX at one point had hoped to launch both the Orbcomm and SES missions before the end of the year.
Both missions will launch on an upgraded, slightly more powerful version of the Falcon 9 than the one that failed in June.
In addition to those flights, NASA recently said SpaceX’s next launch of a Dragon capsule carrying ISS cargo was planned for no earlier than Jan. 8.
“We’re looking forward to having them whenever they’re ready to come to station,” said Ven Feng, manager of NASA’s ISS Transportation Integration Office, after Sunday’s launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft.
And across the country at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, work has resumed on a fourth mission that SpaceX could attempt to launch by next month.
The weather satellite mission called Jason-3, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with NASA and European partners, anticipates being ready to launch in mid-January on the older version of a Falcon 9.
A review of the rocket’s readiness was completed earlier this week, NASA said.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an unmanned Dragon capsule exploded after liftoff today from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The Orbcomm mission would be SpaceX’s seventh launch of 2015, including the failure, and bring to 17 the total number of Cape Canaveral launches this year. United Launch Alliance launched 10 of its 12 missions from the Cape.
After the Orbcomm launch, SpaceX wants to try to land the Falcon 9 rocket’s first-stage booster back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the company’s first attempt to return a booster to land rather than an ocean platform.
Musk did not say if the company has won approval for that experimental landing attempt, part of SpaceX’s efforts to develop reusable rockets that could lower launch costs.
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An Atlas V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a GPS satellite for the United States Air Force.
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The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket is carrying a communications satellite for the Mexican government.
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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasted into space carrying the Navy’s fourth Mobile User Objective System satellite.
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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched an unmanned transport vehicle carrying water, parts and other supplies to the International Space Station. A few minutes after its launch, it entered a preliminary orbit with no problems. (Aug. 19)
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A Delta IV rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a communications satellite for the military. Posted July 23, 2015.
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Three astronauts aboard a Soyuz spacecraft successfully launched towards the International Space Station on Thursday after a two-month delay caused by a Russian rocket failure.
Video provided by AFP
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An unpiloted Russian spacecraft is safely on its way to the International Space Station with more than 3 tons of supplies. They’re needed to alleviate a shortage caused by a string of failed missions, including the recent explosion of a SpaceX rocket
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An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station broke apart minutes after liftoff. As engineers analyze flight data to pinpoint what went wrong, NASA and SpaceX officials emphasize no negligence was involved.
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Atlas V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral with the Air Force’s X-37B mini-shuttle, 10 CubeSats and The Planetary Society’s LightSail mission on board.
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SpaceX launches their Falcon 9 rocket into space. The rocket is carrying supplies to the International Space Station, including a pricey Italian coffee maker.
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The Soyuz launched into space Friday with astronaut Scott Kelly who will be on a year-long mission.
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An Atlas V rocket launched Thursday night is part of NASA’s billion-dollar mission to study the explosive give-and-take of the Earth and sun’s magnetic fields.
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NASA’s Atlas V rocket is blasting off with a quartet of science satellites on Thursday night. Check out this animation that shows the rocket deploying in space to study the magnetosphere.
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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying commercial communications satellites blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex.
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Early risers across much of Arizona were treated to a colorful sight — a pink cloud from a NASA research rocket that was launched Wednesday from a U.S. Army installation in New Mexico. (Feb. 26)
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After a series of delays, SPACEX finally launched its Falcon 9 DSCOVR rocket.
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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched the U.S. Navy’s MUOS 3 mission.
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SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon cargo capsule into space early Saturday morning. The capsule is filled with supplies, headed for the International Space Station. The launch was crucial following the failed Antares rocket back in October.
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NASA’s unmanned Orion spacecraft blasted off Friday. Its first launch attempt was scrubbed Thursday due to several factors, including wind. NASA hopes the spacecraft will eventually take astronauts to Mars.
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NASA had cameras placed all around the launch site of the Orion spacecraft. Watch the liftoff from several different perspectives.
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Three astronauts are headed towards the International Space Station after a succesful launch of the Soyuz TMA-15M rocket on Sunday.
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Atlas V rocket blasts into space with GPS satellite
Atlas V rocket lifts off with Mexican satellite
Watch Atlas V rocket blast into space
Japan launches cargo shipment to space station
Video: Delta IV rocket launch with USAF satellite
Soyuz rocket launches towards ISS after delay
Russian cargo ship safely en route to ISS
SpaceX rocket explosion: ‘It’s space and it’s difficult’
Atlas V rocket launches with secretive Air Force space plane
Check out the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch towards ISS
See spectacular light show from Soyuz rocket launch
NASA launches Atlas V to solve magnetic mystery
Here’s what NASA’s Atlas V rocket looks like in space
Watch: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch into sky
Raw: Pink cloud visible after rocket launch
Watch: SpaceX launches Falcon 9 DSCOVR rocket
Atlas V rocket launched successfully for Navy mission
SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully blasts into space
NASA’s Orion launches on second attempt
Watch NASA’s Orion launch from eight different angles
Soyuz rocket blasts 3 astronauts towards ISS
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