The first launch of Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, on the first mission not relating to a NASA initiative, will have to wait a bit longer. Liftoff of the Cassiope communications satellite on the highly successful F9 launch vehicle has been pushed back five days, from Sept. 5 to Sept. 10.
The launch window extends two hours, opening at 4 p.m. GMT and closing two hours later at 6 p.m. GMT (12-2 p.m. EDT and 9-11 a.m. PDT).
Cassiope is a communications and research satellite owned by MacDonald Detwiller & Associates Inc. Upon reaching orbit it will assist as part of a digital broadcast courier service and study Earth’s ionosphere.
Unlike the five prior flights of the Falcon 9, this version of the rocket will utilize the upgraded Merlin 1D (as opposed to the Merlin 1C) engines. Cassiope’s ticket to space will also utilize stretched fuel tanks and a larger fairing. This variant of the Falcon 9 has been dubbed the Falcon 9 v1.1 configuration.
This flight, like many using a new or updated vehicle, has been delayed several times. The mission was initially set to take place in April of this year. It then slipped to June, July, and now September.
There are three other missions that SpaceX has on the manifest for the remainder of 2013. Those are the SES 8 mission, Thaicom 6, and Orbcomm G2.
SpaceX’s next mission for NASA will be the Commercial Resupply Services 3 (CRS-3), currently scheduled to take place at the start of next year. Excluding Cassiope, all of these launches will take place at the company’s pad, located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida.