SpaceX keeps the launch pace up

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket on Monday, October 30.Liftoff from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center was right on time at 3:34 p.m. EDT. 

Less than 40 minutes later the rocket's payload -- a Korean commercial communications satellite -- was safely in Earth orbit, and the rocket's first stage was sitting on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean.

The mission marked the 16th Falcon 9 shot for 2017, 12 of which launched from KSC.

Keeping up the quickened launch pace, SpaceX is looking ahead to Wednesday, November 15 for its next mission. A Falcon 9 is to fly from KSC between 8 and 10 p.m. local time. All that is known about the flight is the payload is called Zuma, and it's a launch contracted by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Government.

Following this next launch from KSC, pad 39A is expected to undergo final modifications to support the launch of a Falcon 9 Heavy rocket, with SpaceX still saying they expect to get that monster of a rocket off the ground by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, resumption of Falcon 9 launches from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is now targeted for December 4, with a space station resupply mission to the International Space Station and a first-stage return to the Cape's Landing Zone One.

Complex 40 was essentially destroyed during a countdown dress rehearsal in September 2016, when the second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket exploded, taking the rest of the rocket, the pad and its satellite payload with it. 

The problem with the second stage design has long since been fixed and the pad is nearly ready to go operational again.

-- Jim Banke


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