SpaceX has a new date for its next launch – February 18, when it’s hoping to make its first launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at pad LC-39A. The first launch from the Florida facility was originally set for January 29, and was set to be a mission to deliver a commercial EchoStar satellite into orbit, but that was pushed back to a target of the end of February when SpaceX decided to launch its CRS-10 resupply mission with its Dragon supply ship in mid-February, and now we have an exact window for that LC-39A inaugural flight.
SpaceX’s CRS-10 will send a Dragon capsule with multiple tons of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station, including a new instrument specifically designed to monitor and study the ozone layer from the ISS’ vantage point once it’s mounted to the outside of the orbital facility.
The EchoStar XXIII mission is still set to be SpaceX’s first commercial launch from the new pad, which was actually originally built for NASA’s Apollo program, used as a space shuttle area launch complex repurposed for SpaceX’s use. It’s a big step for SpaceX since adding another launch site could help it better meet its aggressive slate of scheduled launches. Scheduling is always subject to change, but this will definitely be one to watch, and not just because it’s only SpaceX’s second time out since its explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket last September. Its first, the Iridium-1 mission in January, was a success.