This may be the summer of SpaceX because beginning with the next NASA Space Station resupply flight, dubbed CRS-11, will begin a string of launches that is very ambitious. In the month of June alone, four launches are planned.
- CRS-11, June 1, @ 5:55 p.m.
- BulgariaSat-1, June 15th
- Intelsat 35e, late June
- Iridium-2 (11-20), June 29 @ 4:02 p.m. EDT (1:02 p.m. PDT)(Vandenberg, AFB, California)
Three of the four missions are planned from Launch Pad 39A, and the fourth is scheduled from the launch pad in California that SpaceX now operates from Vandenberg AFB, and another note of interest, the flight on June 15th will be the second launch of a reused first stage Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket that will be used last flew on January 14th of this year when the Iridium-1 (1-10 satellites) and landed on the ocean barge “Just Read The Instructions” in the Pacific Ocean after the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The month of July will see the three launches (all of these are as of this writing).
- SES-11/EchoStar 105
- Koreasat 5A
- Formosat 5 (Vandenberg AFB)
We wrap up the summer with two flights in August.
- CRS-12 (Space Station Resupply) NET. August 1
- Iridium Next 21-30
Speaking for myself, I am looking forward to seeing if SpaceX can pull off 9 launches in just a three month time frame. Some will say that it is slim to none. I would like to remain optimistic in saying that SpaceX can quiet the ones that say they can’t do pull this ambitious schedule off. I know from following the space program regularly for almost 30 years now (a wave of nausea came over me), I have come to understand that every launch that happens on time is a great feat. I was disappointed to learn that the test flight (not crewed) of the crew version of Dragon has been delayed from November of this year until March of 2018, but I am still looking forward to finally seeing the Falcon Heavy take off towards the end of this year (if SpaceX can get Launch Complex 40 operational from damage from last years Falcon 9 pad accident). So far, there have been six Falcon 9 launches in 2017 and between SpaceX, ULA and Orbital the launches this year should be more than any in recent memory coming from the United States with SpaceX making up the vast majority of the launches.