SpaceX is launching a Falcon 9 rocket with a huge communications satellite as payload, with launch window opening at 6:53 PM EDT (3:53 PM PDT) today. The window extends to 8:21 PM EDT, so there’s a possibility of a launch anytime in between there, should weather conditions or anything impact the ability to launch. The livestream above should begin around 15 minutes prior to the opening of the launch window.
The launch will use a twice-flown Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously flew in missions in July and November of last year. This will be the last mission for the rocket, however, since the launch is configured in ‘expendable’ mode, which means that there’s no attempt to return it to Earth for a soft landing.
That’s because Amos-17, the satellite SpaceX is launching on behalf of Israeli company Spacecomm for this mission, weighs over 14,000 lbs – meaning it needs all the fuel on board the Falcon 9 to achieve its target orbit, leaving none remaining for an attempted controlled decent.
The launch will, however, include an attempted recovery of the nose cone fairing that protects the satellite during the ascent phase. SpaceX has managed to catch the fairing once before during a launch, using a ship at sea called ‘Ms. Tree’ which was fitted with an extra large net. Recovering the fairing is a big cost savings for SpaceX, as is recovering the Falcon 9 booster, all of which contributes to SpaceX’s goal of achieving 100 percent reusable launch capabilities.