Falcon 9 rocket rises Monday from Cape Canaveral; launches include one Wednesday from Vandenberg
Monday proved to be SpaceX’s lucky day.
After a series of four delays — one thing after another over several days — the unmanned Falcon 9 rocket finally rose into the cloudless sky on a picture-perfect day at Cape Canaveral.
The apparently flawless launch sets the stage for another launch today from Cape Canaveral and a third one Wednesday from Vandenberg Space Force Base; more about that later in this story.
At the end of Monday’s countdown at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, the rocket blasted off, and you could hear enthusiasm — and maybe a little relief — in the announcer’s voice.
“Go, Falcon! Go, COSMOS!” the announcer exclaimed during the livestream at SpaceX.com.
The Falcon rocket was carrying the Italian COSMOS-SkyMed Earth observation satellite. It’s part of a new generation of remote sensing satellites.
Everything seemed to go according to plan, starting with the blastoff, right on schedule at 3:11 p.m. Pacific time.
The flames burst brightly in a sight that has thrilled space enthusiasts since the early Mercury flights in the 1960s.
But the show wasn’t over.
When the first stage separated without a hitch, the mission control crew applauded.
And unlike the rockets used in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, the Falcon 9 rocket is reusable, and its first stage landed successfully at the Space Force Station with the help of three burns to slow its descent. Just like rockets in old sci-fi movies.
And with two firings from its engine, the second stage reached the planned polar orbit. Around an hour later, the COSMO-SkyMed satellite was released into orbit.
It was a one-hour culmination to a long story, which started Thursday when SpaceX originally was supposed to launch. But bad weather hit Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then on Sunday, the launch had to be scrubbed when a cruise liner traveled into the no-go zone. The Coast Guard was unable to get it out of the way in time for the launch.
Next up for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is a launch today, set for 1:41 p.m. Pacific time from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. This one is for Starlink 36.
Then comes Wednesday’s launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base. Team Vandenberg will launch a National Reconnaissance Office mission on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-4.
The launch is planned for 12:18 p.m. from the base near Lompoc.
Vandenberg advises that people throughout Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties can expect to hear multiple sonic booms.
After the launch, the mission’s first stage will return to land at Vandenberg.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the usual viewing area on Azalea Lane on State Route 1 won’t be open to the public.