Richard Tribou | Orlando Sentinel
SpaceX looks to send up its 14th rocket from the Space Coast this year with a launch just after sunset Friday, and could set a new record between launches for the company if it manages a California liftoff hours earlier.
A Falcon 9 carrying two satellites for Luxembourg-based communications company SES is set to lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 during a 38-minute window that opens at 7:38 p.m., and a backup opportunity the same time Saturday.
Space Launch Delta 45′s weather squadron forecasts a 80% chance for good conditions, but only a 35% chance in the event of a delay until Saturday.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 17, 2023
The SES 18 and SES 19 satellites built by Northrop Grumman will add to SES’s C-band television and data services for the United States.
The first-stage booster for this mission is flying for the sixth time and is set to land on the SpaceX drone ship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean.
All of the Space Coast’s launches this year have been from SpaceX having sent up four missions from Kennedy Space Center and nine previous from Cape Canaveral.
New rocket company Relativity Space has had two launch attempts that were scrubbed from Cape Canaveral of its 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket this month, and has yet to announced a date and time for its third attempt. United Launch Alliance has several missions on tap this year, but its first, an Atlas V launch of the crewed CST-100 Starliner, is not targeted until mid- to late-April. Its first launch of the new Vulcan Centaur rocket isn’t expected until May.
All companies are expected to attempt up to 92 orbital flights in 2023, according to Space Launch Delta 45.
SpaceX would make up the majority of those, and combined with its launches from California and its test site in Texas, the company could send 100 rockets to space this year.
SpaceX has another flight planned Friday from Vandenberg Space Force Bases to send up more Starlink satellites at 3:21 p.m.
If both are successful and on time, the four hours and 17 minutes between launches would beat the company’s previous record between two launches of 7 hours and 20 minutes set on Oct. 5, 2022.
It has flown 17 so far in 2023 ahead of Friday’s two attempts.
To date, the company has flown 216 successful orbital missions since 2008. That includes two Falcon 1 flights, 209 Falcon 9 missions and five of its powerhouse Falcon Heavy.
It’s also managed 178 successful landings of first-stage boosters across both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missions, and been able to refly those boosters 150 times.
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