SpaceX to launch second new Falcon 9 rocket in three days

A Block 5 Falcon 9 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Just three days after launching and landing the latest version of its Falcon 9 rocket in Florida, SpaceX is looking to launch another so-called “block 5” booster from California early Wednesday.

Elon Musk’s rocket company is scheduled to launch a batch of 10 satellites for sat-phone company Iridium from Vandenburg Air Force Base before sunrise. This will be the seventh of eight planned SpaceX  launches to upgrade Iridium’s satellite constellation.

SpaceX will try again to recover more of the Falcon 9 than ever before by attempting a landing on the droneship “Just Read The Instructions,” stationed in the Pacific, and also catching the two halves of the fairing (the nose cone on the top of the rocket) via a giant net mounted on the ship “Mr. Steven.” 

The company has begun to nail the landings pretty routinely, but has had limited success with recovering the fairings.

This will also be the third straight landing of a brand new block 5 Falcon 9, which is designed for radical reusability, perhaps up to 100 flights over the life of a booster. The idea is that SpaceX should be able to bring in a used block 5 for inspection and then send it right back out for another launch up to 10 times in a row without any refurbishment. So far, though, we haven’t heard when the company hopes to relaunch a block 5 for the first time. 

Blast-off is currently scheduled for 4:39 a.m. PT Wednesday morning and will be live-streamed starting about 15 minutes before launch via the embedded video below:

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