A SpaceX Falcon 9 is slated to become the first commercial rocket to attempt to land after an operational launch for the U.S. military, potentially paving the way for an even more significant milestone somewhere along the way.
With the all-new B1060 booster and new top stage and payload fairing, Falcon 9 will launch the U.S. Army’s third enhanced GPS III satellite (PS III SV01) no earlier than (NET) 15:55 EDT (19:55 UTC) on June 30th. While it will be the second time that a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket will rise from Cape Canaveral (CCAFS) Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) with a GPS III satellite in tow, the mission will mark a first criticism for SpaceX and the American army. For the first GPS III mission, the US Air Force has inexplicably requested SpaceX to spend the new Falcon 9 booster assigned at the December 201
The U.S. military never offered a technical explanation as to why Falcon 9 could not land after launching a ~ 3900 kg (~ 8600 lb) GPS 39 SV01 on an average orbit but could, for example, land after launching a dozen metric tons and two NASA astronauts. Regardless, the U.S. Air Force’s space and missile command (SMC) has decided that SpaceX can now attempt to land on Falcon 9’s first stage during the company’s second GPS III launch. A step further, on the eve of the mission, SMC revealed that it may even open up to the idea of reusing SpaceX repeaters on future military launches.
Falcon 9 B1060 has a 15-minute window for the launch of the GPS III SV03 spacecraft on Tuesday 30 June. In the meantime, the drone ship Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) – en route to the sea to prepare for the attempt to land the B1060 – recently passed a few miles from the drone ship Naturally I Still Love You (OCISLY) – returning to Port Canaveral after SpaceX decided to delay its ninth launch of Starlink v1.0 from June 23rd. 25 and 26 in the first or second week of July.
JRTI arrived at its location ~ 630 km (~ 390 mi) east of the Florida coast on June 29, approximately 36 hours before take-off.
The drone ship JRTI was recently cleared after extensive upgrades and a transfer of several thousand miles from Port of Los Angeles, California to Port Canaveral, Florida, ultimately supporting its first landing and recovery in the East Coast in just three weeks. does. If successful, the B1060 will become the first orbital-class booster ever to land after a U.S. military operational launch, excluding a series of Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s.
According to Space News Sandra Erwin, SpaceX is unlikely to reserve the Falcon 9 B1060 booster – assuming a successful landing – for reuse in a future U.S. military launch. Given that SMC appears to have even stricter requirements than NASA Commercial Crew (CCP) and Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) programs, it is safe to assume that – like NASA – the U.S. military will initially allow repeater reuse only if said repeater he only carried out missions for the agency. Given that the next known US military launch of Falcon 9 (GPS III SV04) is NET “late 2020” and that “there are currently no plans to use a previously piloted booster on any future GPS launches”, SpaceX is unlikely to waste perfectly good booster saving it for 6-18 + months.
Regardless, as usual, SpaceX will host an uninterrupted launch webcast. Tune in about 15 minutes before catching the third SpaceX launch of the month and 11 of the year.
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