Two SpaceX missions that were set to fly with less than 12 hours between them have been delayed to later this week and possibly beyond, scrubbing the likelihood of back-to-back launches – and booster landings – for the time being.
Up first is OneWeb Launch 15, a mission slated to take 40 of the company's internet-beaming satellites from Kennedy Space Center to low-Earth orbit. Liftoff of Falcon 9 from pad 39A is scheduled for 5:27 p.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 8, which marks a 48-hour delay from the previous target. SpaceX did not disclose reasons for the push.
After liftoff, Falcon 9's 162-foot first stage will return to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's Landing Zone 1 or 2, generating powerful sonic booms during descent. Spectators and residents should be prepared for the booms, which can be startling.
SpaceX's next mission, the launch of a lunar lander for Japanese company ispace, was on target to fly less than 12 hours after OneWeb, but technical issues continued causing delays. SpaceX on Wednesday said teams are now targeting 2:38 a.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 11, to boost the small lander known as Hakuto-R Mission 1 from the Cape's Launch Complex 40.
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The Falcon 9 booster chosen to fly Hakuto-R will also return to the Cape, so residents and spectators should be prepared for middle-of-the-night booms.
Sonic booms are generated by first stage boosters returning to land at Cape Canaveral's Landing Zone 1 or 2. Depending on distance and a host of other factors like humidity and cloud cover, the booms generated by crossing the speed-of-sound threshold are loud but generally harmless.
The Space Coast does often see back-to-back launches, but not back-to-back landing attempts. Not all missions are eligible for return to landing site, or RTLS, since enough fuel needs to be left over after launching spacecraft.
Florida does, however, see simultaneous booster landings when SpaceX launches three-core Falcon Heavy missions. Only one flew in 2022, but the next is expected to launch a Space Force mission from KSC no earlier than January and will include dual booster landings.
For the latest, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Two SpaceX Florida missions and booster landings delayed