July 21, 2018 – written by Tim Dodd the Everyday Astronaut
SpaceX prepares to launch their 58th Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The four hour launch window opens at 5:50 UTC (1:50 a.m. Eastern local time) to deliver the Telstar 19V satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
This will be the second launch of their upgraded and “ultimate” iteration of their Falcon 9 rocket. This final version of the Falcon 9 features many upgrades to make the Falcon 9 even more reusable, reliable and most importantly certified for human flight (well after they fly 7 of them with out changing anything and utilize a yet to be used COPV (composite overwrapped pressure vessel) 2.0.
The Telstar 19V satellite will be the heaviest satellite SpaceX has launched to date at 7,075 KGs (15,600 pounds). Luckily for SpaceX, since this is being launched on a block 5 Falcon 9, they will have enough margins to (hopefully) recover the first stage booster.
Block 5 has 8% more thrust than previous versions which helps give additional payload capability to the Falcon 9. Other upgrades include better thermal protection, upgraded titanium grid fins, a bolted octaweb (the structure that holds the 9 merlin engines at the base of the rocket), new landing legs and a several other tweaks.
If you need a good friendly reminder of what Block 5 is, what’s new, and why SpaceX was throwing away non-block 5 boosters, check out this article (and video).
Or maybe you have asked yourself, will this Block 5 booster actually be reusable, or will it wind up being refubishable like the Space Shuttle? Well, lucky for you, I have an article on that too!
SpaceX launched their first Block 5 launch two months earlier on May 11, 2018. Since then they’ve flown three more previously flown Block 4 first stages but with upgraded Block 5 second stages.
The Telstar “VANTAGE” satellite was manufactured by SSL (formerly Space Systems/Loral) in Palo Alto, California. It will hold the record for the heaviest commercial communications satellite ever! I find it funny in this day and age of ever shrinking cubesats and microsats, we’re still building giants like this.
Telstar 19V VANTAGE will cover from Northern Canada to South America with broadband connectivity on Ku-band and Ka-bands.
At T minus 7 hours, weather is currently 60% go for launch.