Wednesday, July 17, 2024

SpaceX rocket brings light show in morning sky

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Launch recap:  Scroll down for live coverage of the Tuesday, June 4, liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40.

Night owls rejoiced as a middle of the night SpaceX rocket launch was set for just before 3 a.m. EDT Wednesday. However, the launch was postponed until 4:55 a.m., turning it into an early morning launch.

The latest batch of Starlink satellites, Starlink 8-9, will lifted off just before 5 a.m. Wednesday morning from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40. Those who witnessed it received a surprise − the booster landing was illuminated by the sunlight peaking from the eastern horizon.

When is the next Florida rocket launch? Is there a launch today? Upcoming SpaceX, NASA, ULA rocket launch schedule in Florida

Against the still night sky, the Falcon 9 rocket was brighter than a Fourth of July firework as it blasted off. After dropping off the second stage and payload into space, the Falcon 9 booster dove down towards a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean, landing eight and a half minutes later.

The vapor from Falcon 9 was visible for over an hour.

The FAA confirmed the name of the mission as Starlink 8-9. Being part of the Group 8 satellites, this launch traveled northeast.

Update 5:03 a.m.: The Space Coast got a good view of the first stage booster landing out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Liftoff!

Update 4:55 a.m.: SpaceX has just launched the Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 Starlink satellites from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

SpaceX launch webcast begins

Update 4:50 a.m.: SpaceX’s launch webcast hosted on X (formerly Twitter) is now posted above, right below the countdown clock.

Liftoff is scheduled in five minutes from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

We are 10 minutes from tonight’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch!

Update 4:45 a.m.: T-10 minutes! Head outside if you plan on catching this launch! If you have clear skies, it will be hard to miss the bright rocket rising into the pre-dawn sky.

Simply look towards the direction south of Kennedy Space Center from your direction. 

SpaceX Falcon 9 droneship landing

Update 4:36 a.m.:  Today’s Falcon 9 will land on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. The only sound anticipated will be the rocket’s familiar rumble.

SpaceX launch countdown timeline

Update 4:30 a.m.: Here’s a behind-the-scenes rundown of SpaceX’s countdown timeline. T-minus:

  • 38 minutes: SpaceX launch director verifies “go” for propellant load.
  • 35 minutes: Rocket-grade kerosene and first-stage liquid oxygen loading begins.
  • 16 minutes: Second-stage liquid oxygen loading begins.
  • 7 minutes: Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch.
  • 1 minute: Command flight computer begins final prelaunch checks; propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins.
  • 45 seconds: SpaceX launch director verifies “go” for launch.
  • 3 seconds: Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start.
  • 0 seconds: Liftoff.

Update 4:20 a.m.: SpaceX is about to begin fueling of the rocket. This means they are set to liftoff at 4:55 a.m. EDT, or they must forego the launch for the day.

Update 4:10 a.m.: Here is some space news as we wait for liftoff.

SpaceX has been selected by NASA to launch the COSI telescope atop a Falcon 9. The space telescope will observe gamma-rays and peer into the mysteries behind antimatter and stars. It is not expected to launch prior to August 2027.

Update 4:00 a.m.: The Brevard EOC has been active ahead of this morning’s liftoff.

Update 3:48 p.m.: SpaceX is still targeting 4:55 a.m. EDT to launch. The window runs until 5:59 a.m. EDT. If SpaceX cannot launch this morning, the next opportunity will be 12:28 a.m. EDT on Sunday, July 7.

SpaceX has not stated why the launch time has been moved, but radar shows weather over the launch path and booster landing site.

Brooke Edwards is a Space Reporter for Florida Today. Contact her at bedwards@floridatoday.com or on X: @brookeofstars.

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