SpaceX is attempting its second launch in under 48 hours today at 4:25 PM EDT (1:25 PM PDT), from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch will be the second for client Iridium, a global telecommunications and data provider. The payload for today’s launch includes 10 satellites that make up the second batch of a total of 75 SpaceX is launching into space to help complete Iridium’s NEXT global satellite constellation.
As mentioned, SpaceX’s last launch happened just a couple of days ago, on Friday, with its BulgariaSat-1 mission. This launch took place at SpaceX’s LC-39A facility at Kennedy Space Center, and successfully delivered Bulgaria’s first geostationary orbital communications satellite to its target orbit. The launch used a refurbished Falcon 9 first stage first flown for SpaceX’s original Iridium-1 mission, which flew in January, and the rocket was successfully recovered via SpaceX’s drone landing barge stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 used for Iridium-2 will also attempt to land after re-entry, aboard “Just Read The Instructions,” SpaceX’s Pacific Ocean autonomous drone landing pad barge. Elon Musk noted on Twitter that the Falcon 9 used for today’s launch is equipped with a new type of grid fin, the maneuvering devices used to help the first stage orient itself for proper landing upon re-entry. These new grid finds are made of a single piece of cut titanium, and don’t require any additional shielding to survive the heat of re-entry, unlike the previous aluminum variant. They’re better for re-use, Musk noted, since they don’t require additional refurbishment between uses.
SpaceX has a backup window set for 1:19 PM PDT (4:19 PM PDT) on Monday, June 26 should it have to postpone today’s launch. The stream above should go live around 15 minutes prior to today’s instantaneous launch window opening, or at around 4:10 PM EDT.