SpaceX to launch reused Falcon 9 ahead of Falcon Heavy debut

Elon Musk's rocket company has another delivery to make before he plans to send his Roadster to Mars.

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Eric Mack
2 min read

A recycled Falcon 9 carrying GovSat-1 awaits launch in Florida.


SpaceX has some routine business to take care of this week before the long-anticipated debut of Falcon Heavy, its newest and most powerful rocket yet. 

Elon Musk's commercial space venture on Tuesday scrubbed the scheduled launch of a recycled Falcon 9 rocket set to lift the GovSat-1 satellite into orbit. The mission was called off so SpaceX can swap out a sensor on the rocket. Weather conditions had also been less than ideal for launch much of Tuesday. The launch will now be attempted again from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Wednesday during a window starting at 1:25 p.m. PT. 

GovSat-1 is a communications device built for a public-private partnership involving the government of Luxembourg and satellite operator SES. The Falcon 9 that the satellite sits atop is one of a handful that SpaceX has flown on a previous mission, landed, recovered and reconditioned for further launches. This particular rocket is the same one that carried a spy satellite to space for the US National Reconnaissance Office last year. 

Two missions will apparently be all that this reused rocket will see, however, as SpaceX has no plans to recover it again after GovSat-1 is launched.

This fairly routine mission happens against the backdrop of the planned demonstration launch of Falcon Heavy, currently scheduled for Feb. 6. If it succeeds, Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in use since the Saturn V that carried Apollo astronauts to the moon, and it will also send Musk's red Tesla Roadster on a journey toward Mars because, well, Elon thinks that'll be cool. 

The Falcon 9 GovSat-1 launch has nothing to do with the Falcon Heavy launch, but if Wednesday's mission were to fail for some reason, it's possible it might lead to the Falcon Heavy debut being pushed back as well. SpaceX postponed all launches for several months when a Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad in 2016.

It's also interesting that SpaceX won't attempt to recover the rocket's first stage on Wednesday. After Falcon Heavy's launch, it will attempt to land all three of the powerful system's first stage rockets. 

You can watch the GovSat-1 mission live or replay it afterward via the embed below:

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