SpaceX enjoyed great success when the company successfully launched its most anticipated and most powerful operational rocket up to now – the Falcon Heavy. Now that it’s been some time since that launch, it’s time for the company to return to its regular routine. However, according to the company, the next Falcon 9 launch has been delayed at least until Feb. 21.
“Team at Vandenberg is taking additional time to perform final checkouts of upgraded fairing. Payload and vehicle remain healthy. Due to mission requirements, now targeting February 21 launch of PAZ,” the company posted a tweet explaining the reasons behind the delay of the next Falcon 9 launch. They also will conduct further testing of the rocket’s fairing, which is the section at the tip of the rocket which costs $5 million and deploys the rocket’s payload, according to a report in Space.com.
With the next Falcon 9 launch, SpaceX is planning to deliver Spain’s Paz radar imaging satellite and Starlink prototypes, launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base. According to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune, the new launch time on Wednesday morning could mean a “pre-dawn contrail that could be visible from San Diego County.”
According to the post by SpaceX, more time is necessary in order to “perform final checkouts of upgraded fairing.” According to Space.com those experimental solutions include parachutes and equipping recovery ships with metal arms. The remaining parts of the Falcon 9 rocket are already prepared for the new launch after being recycled. Also, the first-stage booster which was used to launch Taiwan’s Formosat-5 satellite in August 2017 is ready.
Together with the Paz on the mission, there will be two experimental Microsat satellites which will be used for a 20-month test of technology for Starlink, a network of thousands of satellites which could be capable of delivering 5G service to billions of people. However, according to a report from CNBC, SpaceX is not the first company with such ambitions:
“Back in 2015, Facebook decided against spending up to $1 billion on a satellite that would provide Internet to under-served regions in Africa and other continents. Instead, Facebook opted to lease broadband onboard Spacecom’s AMOS-6 satellite, which was destroyed when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded during fueling before launch in 2016.”
“Microsoft founder Bill Gates helped fund Teledesic, in an effort to build low Earth satellites to provide Internet service. Yet Teledesic closed in 2002, after racking up more than $9 billion costs.”
SpaceX aims to use reusable rocket technology in order to reduce the costs of spaceflight and space travel. The company even used reusable rocket technology on its superb launch of the Falcon Heavy Rocket. The company carried Musk’s Tesla Roadster on board with a mannequin in a spacesuit called Starman behind the wheel earlier this month. SpaceX didn’t publicly speak about the Starlink prototypes, although it revealed their presence on the Falcon 9 rockets in Federal Communications Commission filings.