SpaceX has successfully launched a new rocket that was supposed to launch after the company’s CRS-19 Cargo Dragon.
On November 26th, 2019, SpaceX ignited all the nine engines of its Falcon 9, simulating a launch up to the point of liftoff. Now that everything went smoothly, SpaceX now has to roll it back to its hanger and set the Cargo Dragon at the top of the second stage, and then try its luck at successfully launching the entire rocket for the resupply mission for NASA.
Michael Baylor, a reporter for NASA Space Flight, revealed that SpaceX decided to swap boosters and assigned B1059.1 to Cargo Dragon’s NASA CRS-19 resupply mission. Now the B1056.3 is scheduled to launch the Kacific-1/JCSAT-18 commsat on or after December 4th. If anything goes wrong during the liftoff, it will be pushed off for another 24 hours.
The B1056 had completed two liftoffs successfully before. The same flight was supposed to finish the testing. However, both SpaceX and NASA decided against it. It is unclear why both parties decided to forego using the B1056 and the B1059.1 instead. It also appears that Falcon 9 B1059 will attempt to land aboard a drone ship. The surprising liftoff may mean that it calls for an unexpected Port Canaveral return.
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CRS-19 will become the second orbital launch of a twice-flown Cargo Dragon capsule. SpaceX says that CRS-19’s Cargo Dragon capsule previously flew CRS-4 (Sept 2014) and CRS-11 (June 2017), identifying it as capsule C106. The C106 made history as it supported SpaceX’s first Cargo Dragon capsule reuse, the first-ever commercial orbital spacecraft to be reused in history. Furthermore, the Dragon 1 vehicles were designed to support up to three orbital missions each.