Thursday, November 21, 2013

SpaceX on Deck

Click the arrow to watch the launch of the “next generation” Falcon 9 on September 29, 2013 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Video source: SpaceX.

The first launch of the upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral is scheduled for Monday November 25 at 5:37 PM EST.

The payload is the SES-8 communications satellite, owned by SES S.A. but built by Orbital Sciences. SES is based in Luxembourg but operates commercial satellites for worldwide customers.

This will be the first commercial satellite launched from the Space Coast since November 23, 2009. Intelsat 14 launched on an Atlas V from LC-41.

Commercial satellite launches have gone overseas in recent years due to the monopoly granted to United Launch Alliance in 2006. The monopoly drove up prices as expected, so commercial business went overseas while ULA flew government payloads. SpaceX has challenged that monopoly with a new business model leading to lower prices.

SpaceX has a second commercial payload, Thaicom 6, scheduled in December for the Thailand-based Thaicom Public Limited Company.

The SpaceX launch manifest for 2014 lists six commercial satellite launches from the Cape, along with three commercial cargo deliveries to the International Space Station for NASA and its first U.S. Air Force payload.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex issued the below press release yesterday with viewing locations for Monday evening's launch.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Offers Best Public Viewing
of SpaceX Rocket Launch at Dusk on Nov. 25

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Nov. 20, 2013) – KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – As the sun sets in the west, a Falcon 9 rocket will light up skies on the east coast during the dramatic SpaceX liftoff scheduled for Monday, Nov. 25. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests may view the dusk launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the closest possible public viewing area, or special areas at the Visitor Complex.

The rocket is scheduled to blast off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:37 p.m. EST, carrying an SES 8 satellite.

Guests can experience the powerful sights and sounds of the rocket at special viewing available to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, located within Kennedy Space Center, for $20 plus the cost of admission. Admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is $50 plus tax for adults and $40 plus tax for children 3-11. Bus boarding for the Apollo/Saturn V Center begins at 3 p.m.

Located along the Banana River just a few miles from the launch pad, the Apollo/Saturn V viewing area offers the closest public viewing opportunity in Brevard County. This viewing area will feature live launch countdown commentary.

Launch viewing is also available from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and is included in regular admission, featuring live mission control commentary.

The Falcon 9 rocket will fly with upgraded Merlin 1D engines, stretched fuel tanks and a payload fairing. The SES 8 satellite will provide Ku-band and Ka-band direct-to-home broadcasting and network services over the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 877-313-2610 and visit

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