For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
TITUSVILLE, FL – After completing a successful static fire test of the Falcon 9 first stage booster on Tuesday afternoon, June 22, SpaceX unexpectedly announced two days later Thursday, June 24, that the planned launch of their second dedicated rideshare mission Transporter-2 carrying over 80 small satellites and slated for Friday afternoon, June 25, would be postponed indefinitely to carry out additional pre-launch checks.
SpaceX announced the Transporter-2 launch delay today via tweet but did not provide any further clarification as to the cause – such as whether its related to the rocket, pad, ground support equipment (GSE), payloads or something else.
They only said a new launch target would be announced when the company is ready to confirm a date:
“Team is taking additional time for pre-launch check outs ahead of the Transporter-2 mission; will announce new target launch date once confirmed,” SpaceX tweeted this morning.
Team is taking additional time for pre-launch check outs ahead of the Transporter-2 mission; will announce new target launch date once confirmed
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 24, 2021
Update 25 June: SpaceX announced new target launch date is Tuesday, June 29 at 2:56 p.m. ET
Two customers indicated Monday as a potential launch date
Following Tuesday’s successful static fire test SpaceX had confirmed they were targeting Friday, June 25 for liftoff of Transporter-2 during a launch window opening at 2:56 p.m. EDT and extending nearly one hour to 3:54 p.m. EDT (1856-1954 GMT using a 7x recycled 229.6 ft (70 m) tall Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida carrying a multitude of more than 8 dozen small and nano satellites on the rideshare mission.
“Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete – targeting launch of SpaceX’s second dedicated rideshare mission, Transporter-2, on Friday, June 25,” SpaceX tweeted June 22 rapidly post test confirming a good result only half an hour later.
Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete – targeting launch of SpaceX’s second dedicated rideshare mission, Transporter-2, on Friday, June 25
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 22, 2021
Launch weather outlook for Friday afternoon was moderate at 60% chance of favorable conditions at launch time according to forecasters with Space Launch Delta 45 of the U.S. Space Force.
Saturday, June 26 had been the back up launch opportunity – but the delay amounts to at least a few days into next week at a minimum.
There is no indication from SpaceX at this time of a new launch target date – which could be announced at any moment.
So stay tuned !
The broad ranging payload comprised of 88 small and nano satellites for a wide variety of commercial and government customers
Transporter-1 carried 143 nano and micro satellites as well as another 10 Starlinks encapsulated inside the nose cone.
They were deployed to a sun-synchronous polar orbit. A similar orbit is also expected for Transporter 2.
The rideshare strategy enables much cheaper cost rides to space for small payload customers by spreading out the launch cost amongst a multitude of customers from government, industry, academia and more, rather than buying a full price dedicated Falcon 9 flight.
The Falcon 9 will launch on an until recently rare southerly polar trajectory flying south along Florida’s east coast past Miami and the Florida straits and over Cuba.
This marks the third southern launch trajectory used by SpaceX in the past year since August 2020.
Previously the southern corridor from Florida had not been used since 1969.
The brief hold down static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket booster B1060 minus the payload raised at pad 40 was carried out at 3:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday (1645 GMT) afternoon June 22 under fairly sunny skies low winds following earlier stormy space coast weather.
I watched the afternoon test Tuesday from about a dozen miles away across the Indian River lagoon and observed the exhaust plume and expanding vapor cloud emanating from the bottom of the booster wafting away to the north – clearly visible but disappearing into some hanging low clouds within just about a minute.
From a distance the test appeared normal – however as always we awaited SpaceX confirmation of a good result.
Whenever it does happen this will count as SpaceX’s 20th launch of 2021.
Liftoff of the initial SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter-1 rideshare mission carrying a total of 143 SmallSats took place six months ago on Jan. 24, 2021 from seaside Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Transporter-1 had utilized a heavily reused and 5x flown very sooty booster 1058 which landed on the OCISLY droneship
Transporter-2 will utilize booster B1060 which has flown seven time previously.
By contrast for Transporter-2 the first stage will carry out a very exciting ‘Return to Launch Site’ (RTLS) landing at LZ-1 – creating a multitude of shocking sonic booms!
Transporter-1 carried payloads for Planet, Kepler Communications, Nanoracks, Spire, Capella Space, ICEYE, NASA, Spaceflight, Celestis and a range of additional commercial and government customers in addition to SpaceX’s own Starlinks.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX, Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and more national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
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Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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