SpaceX is launching its first mission since a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a launch pad during preflight routines in September of last year. The launch is set to take place Saturday, January 14 at 9:54:39 AM PT, or 12:54:39 PM ET. A Falcon 9 rocket will carry 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, designed to form the base of a mobile voice and data network that will eventually include 70 satellites in total.
The crucial launch will originate from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California; if all goes well, the satellites will begin to be deployed in low-earth orbit starting around one hour after take-off. Once the second stage separates to carry those satellites into orbit, the first stage will attempt to land on SpaceX’s floating drone barge landing pad, which will be waiting in the Pacific Ocean to attempt recovery.
Iridium’s NEXT project hopes to begin commercial service in 2017, offering voice and data network service across a few different verticals. The payload is currently sitting on the launch pad awaiting the go-ahead, having already undergone their final clearance and a dry run of the launch countdown process.
SpaceX says that it’s currently looking at around 60 percent favorable in terms of weather conditions on the ground for the Saturday launch attempt, owing to ground wind speeds. A first launch window for January 9 was scrapped because of high winds, so we’ll keep you updated as to whether or not this effort is also scrubbed — if it is, the next available window is January 15, beginning at 9:49 AM PT. The webcast above will begin 20 minutes prior to the first launch window at 9:54:39 AM PT.