Final launch from Cape in 2017 now set for Dec. 15

posted by Jim Banke - 

UPDATE FOR TUESDAY, DEC. 12 -- Well it's going to be Friday, or not until "late December," according to the latest word from SpaceX on when the next Falcon 9 is targeting to blast off on a cargo run to the International Space Station.

The company said in a Twitter post tonight that the launch team needed some extra time to inspect the rocket's second stage fuel system, and that if a launch on Friday doesn't take place it would be late December until they could try again.

Liftoff is now targeted for about 10:33 a.m. EST on Friday.

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UPDATED MONDAY, DEC. 11 -- We have to wait another day for the Falcon 9 launch from the Cape. SpaceX said they needed more time to check launch pad systems. This is the first launch from pad 40 since it was nearly destroyed in September 2016. Liftoff now targeted for Wednesday at 11:24 a.m. ET.

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UPDATED WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6 -- SpaceX has moved its final Falcon 9 flight of the calendar year, a cargo run to the space station for NASA, to Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 11:46 a.m. EST, give or take a few seconds.

NASA said in a statement this latest slip "takes into account pad readiness, requirements for science payloads, space station crew availability and orbital mechanics."

Space X successfully test fired the Falcon 9's first stage main engines today at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the first time fire filled the flame trench at the re-built complex 40, which was seriously damaged in 2016 when a Falcon 9 exploded on the pad.

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UPDATED MONDAY, DEC. 4 -- The Falcon 9 launch has slipped one day and is now targeted to fly at 12:57 p.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 9.

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The launch schedule here on Florida's Space Coast has crystallized a bit during the past few days and the picture shows one more shot planned from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 2017.

Now targeted to fly Friday, December 8 is a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft on a cargo run to the International Space Station. Liftoff will be about 1:20 p.m. EST, plus or minus a few seconds.

The commercial mission for NASA will be more newsworthy than usual.

This will be the first launch from the now-repaired Launch Complex 40 since a Falcon 9 exploded on the pad during a test in September 2016.

The Falcon 9 first stage will be making its second flight, a first for a NASA mission.

The Dragon spacecraft also will be making its second flight to the ISS, another first for the NASA commercial cargo resupply program.

The Falcon 9 first stage will make an attempt to return to Landing Zone One at the Cape. Touchdown will take place about eight minutes after liftoff.

-- Jim Banke

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