Cape Canaveral in Florida is set to see three rocket launches this weekend. In nearly 20 years, it is the first time the spaceport has seen many launches in the same week. The last time Florida saw three launches in a week was way back in 2001.
45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Dough Schiess had this to say, “It could be a historic weekend for us this week. It’s a busy week for the team and we’re looking forward to it”.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) is set to start the proceedings. It’s the first attempt on Thursday morning to send up a satellite on National Reconnaissance Office through its Delta lV heavy rocket ended in a scrub due to a technical issue concerning the ground pneumatic control system. The national security payload is referred to as NROL-44. The NROL-44 satellite, a part of Advanced Orion listening stations, can intercept telephone calls and other communication activities, which is very mind-boggling.
Saturday’s launch will mark Delta lV Heavy’s 12th mission. The last time it went into space was in January 2019. The Delta lV Heavy’s launch could very well be one-of-a-kind because a 235-foot-tall rocket launch doesn’t happen very often.
ULA has planned the launch window for Saturday at 2:04 a.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). With 80% of favorable weather conditions in place, ULA will be hoping for a turn of fortunes this time around.
According to ULA officials, the issue in the gas grounding system is completely resolved and is working as it should.
The change in schedule means that ULA’s arch-rival SpaceX will be aiming for two launches on Sunday. However, weather conditions could play spoilsport.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Start link and SAOCOM 1B on Sunday, at 10:12 a.m. EDT and 7:18 a.m. EDT, respectively. Although the weather is 50% in favor of SpaceX, the possibility of launch lies in the hands of the weather gods.
The launch will see the advent of the 12th round of internet-beaming Starlink satellites. According to SpaceX’s website, the company plans to roll-out more than 600 600 constellations this year.
The uniqueness of this launch is two-fold: first of all, a polar orbit is required to get the satellite above the South Pole. Second of all, since November 30, 1960, in nearly six decades, it’s the first satellite with a polar orbit, launching from Florida.
Schiess stated that the rocket will launch from its southern orbit and fly over Cuba at a safe altitude, dismissing chances of failure. The launch in 1960 on this particular path ended in a losing cause, leaving the wreckage fall over Cuba.
Schiess also added that all the safety measures are in place and are confident of the rocket right in place at the expected altitude and speed.
The launch will also see the landing back at Cape Canaveral, the first since March. All other landings this year have been at the Atlantic Ocean on a drone ship.
Should all go as planned, it’ll be one heck of a feat. At the end of the day, both ULA and SpaceX will be hoping that factors like technical issues and weather don’t play spoilsport.