SpaceX announced on Thursday, 15th February 2018, that it had delayed the launch of the Spanish radar observation satellite, PAZ, by 24 hours, pushing the launch to Sunday. The instantaneous launch opportunity has been scheduled to take place at 6:16 a.m. PST on Sunday, 18th February, from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, located on the Pacific coastline.
SpaceX has also announced that the 229-foot rocket, Falcon 9, which shall carry the radar-equipped Earth observation satellite aboard, is healthy. PAZ has a launch weight of 3200 pounds (1450 kilograms). It is 16 feet long, has a diameter of 8 feet, and has been designed to peer through clouds and darkness to capture high-resolution views of cities, landscapes, and oceans.
The satellite is owned by Hisdesat and is a part of a $200 million project and shall capture radar images for the Spanish military and other governmental departments, along with some commercial clients. Approximately 11 minutes after the launch, Falcon 9 will release PAZ into a 319-mile high polar orbit tilted at 97.4 degrees to the equator, an orbit it will share with German radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively.
The delay in the launch schedule will “allow for additional time for pre-launch systems checks,” said a tweet by SpaceX. Two secondary payloads are expected to accompany PAZ, which might include the first two prototype satellites for SpaceX’s planned Starlink broadband Internet network.
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“We’ve already performed the major part of the launch campaign, all the validation of the satellite. We’ve done the mating with the payload adapter, and also the fuelling of the satellite. The satellite has been completely fuelled and pressurized. We are in a nominal situation for the launch. A couple of covers need to be removed at the very last minute for the star trackers,” said Garcia Primo in a phone interview earlier in the week.