The AMOS-17 communications satellite should already be in space. The fact that it’s not is the result of a rare combination of technical hitches and bad weather, but that isn’t going to stop SpaceX from trying yet again tonight.
The launch is currently scheduled for 6:53 p.m. EDT, and as usual SpaceX will be providing a live stream of the event beginning roughly 15 minutes before the launch window opens. The launch window will be open just under an hour and a half, closing at 8:21 p.m.
The AMOS-17 mission isn’t particularly noteworthy, at least no more so than the launch and deployment of any other modern communications satellite, but the run of bad luck that has kept the spacecraft grounded is rather remarkable.
Bad weather near the Florida launch site was the cause of the initial delay, and that trend continued the following day. When the skies looked more favorable a different issue arose, with SpaceX saying it needed to test fire its Falcon 9’s engines one more time after replacing “a suspect valve.”
The additional test took place on Saturday, but the earliest possible launch window would have been on Monday. Ultimately the launch was scheduled to Tuesday, and now we’ll have to wait and see if SpaceX’s launch has truly turned around.
SpaceX’s live streams are always entertaining and typically informative, so expect to hear all about the satellite and the various details of the launch as it plays out. The Falcon 9 includes a pre-flown first stage which was previously launched twice in 2018.
Unfortunately for rocket launch fans, we won’t be seeing the Falcon 9’s first stage return to solid ground this time around, as the requirements of the launch demand the rocket be sent on a trajectory that will make recovery via SpaceX’s drone ship impossible.