Space X launches Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy next

posted by Jim Banke - 

A military communications satellite for the government of Luxembourg was successfully delivered to Earth orbit on Wednesday riding atop a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The SpaceX satellite-delivery mission lifted off at 4:25 p.m. EST from launch complex 40, with the confirmed spacecraft separation coming about 32 minutes later.

A launch attempt on Tuesday was scrubbed so workers could replace a sensor in the rocket's second stage. Gusting winds also had threatened the launch. However, there were no technical or weather issues to report on Wednesday.

SpaceX will now turn its full attention toward launching the first-ever Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center next Tuesday. The launch window extends from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. EST.

The demonstration flight will not include an active satellite payload, but SpaceX owner Elon Musk is sending his personal red Tesla Roadster into space on what is hoped will be an Earth-escape velocity that will put the car into an extended solar orbit.

Both of the Falcon Heavy's side-mounted booster rockets and the core first stage will be recovered. The two boosters will come back together for a touchdown at Cape Canaveral, while the core first stage will land on a barge in the Atlantic.

Work to ready the barge for next week's high profile mission is why the Falcon 9 first stage flown today was not recovered. It did not have enough propellant to return to the Cape, so it flew itself to a gentle but nonetheless destructive splashdown.

-- Jim Banke

Next Launch: Falcon Heavy on Feb. 6

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