Enlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket is ready to go for Monday night’s launch. (credit: SpaceX)
Tonight, SpaceX will attempt to launch its sixth Falcon 9 rocket of 2017.
If successful, this take-off would put SpaceX on course to launch more than a dozen missions this year and, possibly, as many as eighteen. The 49-minute launch window opens at 7:21 pm ET Monday, and the rocket will deliver an Inmarsat-5 F4 communications satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit. Weather is near ideal for a launch from Kennedy Space Center this evening, with a 90-percent chance of favorable conditions.
Because the satellite is so heavy—more than six metric tons—and going to a higher orbit, the Falcon 9 rocket won’t have enough fuel to make a return attempt, even at sea.
The company has not disclosed whether it will make another experimental attempt to recover the rocket’s payload fairing.
A successful mission tonight by SpaceX would allow the company to demonstrate that it is making good progress toward its long-promised goal of flying the Falcon 9 frequently and working through a backlog of about 70 missions. Since SpaceX returned to flight on January 17 of this year, five Falcon 9 rockets have launched.
After tonight, a seventh launch could come just two weeks later at the beginning of June, a cargo supply mission to the International Space Station.
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