News Column

SpaceX Set to Launch Falcon 9 on Friday

January 2, 2014

Kevin P. Connolly, Orlando Sentinel

spacex falcon 9
SpaceX Falcon 9 (file photo)

Jan. 02--Attention space buffs: SpaceX is set to light up the sky over Central Florida on Friday.

The launch window for its unmanned Falcon 9 rocket is from 5:05 p.m. to 7:17 p.m. at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Sunset is at 5:42 p.m.

The rocket will carry a satellite that will improve communications in Southeast Asia and Africa, according to the U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing.

The liftoff comes a month after the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company's milestone launch from the Cape on Dec. 3.

That's when SpaceX put the company's first commercial satellite into orbit.

SpaceX has become a fixture on the Space Coast.

NASA said last month that it was awarding SpaceX the rights to negotiate for a long-term lease to run Launch Complex 39A.

It's one of the two huge pads that have been used for everything from Apollo to space shuttle rockets at Kennedy Space Center.

The announcement was a win for Internet billionaire-turned-space-entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Musk co-founded PayPal and then invested his money to found SpaceX.

LC-39A was first used to launch the unmanned Apollo 4 into space in 1967. Apollo 11, carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon, also blasted off from there. So did the first space shuttle flight, that of Columbia.

LC-39A was last used to launch the last shuttle mission -- of Atlantis -- on July 8, 2011.

SpaceX made history in May 2012 when it became the first private company to launch a spacecraft -- its Dragon capsule taken to space by its Falcon 9 rocket -- to the space station and back.

The company now is a NASA cargo-hauling contractor for the space station.

SpaceX also is in the running to become the first private company to launch a human spaceflight, carrying American astronauts to the space station late this decade.

Scott Powers contributed to this report


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Original headline: SpaceX launch of Falcon 9 rocket set for Friday

Source: (c)2014 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

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