Three Historic Launches to Take Place in Florida’s Space Coast

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket is transported from the Horizontal Integration Facility to Space Launch Complex-37 on Nov. 14, 2019 in preparation to launch the NROL-44 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office in 2020. Photo and Caption Credit: United Launch Alliance

Florida’s Space Coast is in for a real treat if it would happen to launch three rockets into outer space, something that is in the works as you may be reading this (or it may have already happened.)  The United Launch Alliance (ULA) is looking to launch 2 rockets with an additional one possibly launched this same week.

The first launch window opens on Thursday, August 27 at 2:12 a.m. (launch was previously scheduled for Wednesday morning). The scheduled liftoff is set to take place from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The ULA is trying to send up a Delta 4 Heavy rocket, carrying a spy satellite for the U.S. government.  

Then, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled later on the same day at 7:14 p.m.

“It could be a historic event for us this week,” 45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess said on August 19, later adding, ”It’s a busy week for the team and we’re looking forward to it.”

The current forecast from the 45th Space Wing shows an 80% chance of favorable launch weather for the four-hour window. Ahead of the launch, ULA did something unusual with the rocket. It used the rocket and launch hangar as a backdrop to project an interactive video, known as 3D mapping.

The launching of a Delta IV Heavy would be an awesome event to witness on its own. The powerful three-booster, 235-foot-tall rocket usually doesn’t get launched, let alone be used for such a high tech feat such as 3D mapping. 

Photo: United Launch Alliance Twitter

Following Thursday’s launch would be the launches of SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets for Friday and Saturday.

Friday’s rocket launch would be unique because 1.). It’s the first satellite with a polar orbiting launching from Florida since November 30, 1960 and 2.) This launch will also include a landing back at Cape Canaveral, the first since March. Friday’s liftoff is scheduled for around 7:19 p.m. from Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Weather forecasts say there is a 70% chance for good liftoff conditions.

Saturday’s launch of the SpaceX rocket will consist of its 12th round of internet-beaming Starlink satellites. This liftoff will happen from Kennedy Space Center Launchpad 39A at 10:30 a.m. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will deliver another 60 Starlink satellites growing SpaceX’s constellation above 600. The company plans to roll out internet service with the fleet later this year, according to SpaceX’s website.

SpaceX plans to land the rocket booster at sea and fly it again, per usual.

With each day’s launch, setbacks and delays may occur due to weather conditions and possible hardware issues arising.

“It’s an exciting time at the Cape,” said Mark Bontrager, the Spaceport Operations vice president for Space Florida. “When you know the level of effort and take the range, and turn it from one rocket to another in three days, it speaks to the capability of this team,” said Bontrager. “What we call the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.”

To celebrate the big event, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering an attraction called, “Launch and a Movie,” a “drive-in” style launch viewing experience. In addition to viewing the Friday, August 28 launch of SpaceX’s SAOCOM 1B from the comfort of their own vehicle, visitors will also be able to watch the short film “Hubble” afterward. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase, according to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Tickets are $50 per vehicle. To learn more about the event and to purchase tickets, please visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex website.