Less than 24 hours after the successful Starlink Group 4-4 launch from California, SpaceX is planning to launch another Falcon 9, this time from Cape Canaveral, carrying Türksat 5B to geostationary transfer orbit for customer Türksat A.Ş. The first stage booster will be making its third flight and both payload fairing halves have flown once previously. Launch is scheduled for 03:58 UTC on Sunday 2021-12-19, which is the evening of Saturday, December 18th in western hemisphere time zones. There is a 90 minute launch window in case of delays, and a second launch opportunity the following day with the same window in case of a scrub. Weather is forecast 80% favourable for launch. The live Webcast usually starts around 15 minutes before launch time.
The launch, payload delivery, and booster landing were completely successful. This launch set a new record of 15 hours, 16 minutes, and 59 seconds between two SpaceX launches (from different spaceports), beating the previous record of around 44 hours. On two occasions in 2013 and 2015, however, Soyuz rockets launched from Baikonur and French Guiana just two hours apart. Since SpaceX has separate launch teams in Florida and California, the only constraint on turnaround is headquarters mission management resources.
SpaceX plans its final launch for 2021, the Dragon CRS-2 SpX-24 cargo flight to the International Space Station, for 2021-12-21 at 10:06 UTC. This will complete a record 31 SpaceX launches in the year. Unusually for SpaceX these days, the first stage booster, B1069, is new and will be making its first flight. The Cargo Dragon spacecraft has flown once before.
How could one not be in awe of the SpaceX Falcon program? I am posting The Kink’s song “Do it Again” in honor of the flesh and blood heroes at SpaceX that make the systems work, “day after day”. Godspeed !!!