SpaceX will be attempting a twofold launch of the Falcon 9 rocket within a 48-hour window. This is a clear manifestation of Elon Musk's vow to make rapid rocket launching a possibility. If the two satellite mission launches successfully, SpaceX and Musk will be one step closer to achieving their grand scheme - to send millions of people to space.
Iridium targeted for 6/25—could be a weekend doubleheader
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 18, 2017
One of the two missions of SpaceX, the BulgariaSat-1, was originally scheduled to launch a few days ago but was delayed due to technical issues. It is now scheduled for launch on June 23, two days before the Iridium NEXT Mission. With an initial plan to launch the second batch of the Iridium satellites on the 29th of June, the mission was brought forward four days earlier. The Iridium NEXT Mission is considered to be one of the largest "tech updates" in history.
SpaceX will not only make history for itself by conducting two consecutive launches in such a short period of time but will also be the vessel to complete two historical space missions.
If schedule holds there will be two Falcon 9 launches within 48 hours (Cape & Vandenberg) this weekend https://t.co/GbleRPm6iZ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 18, 2017
The BulgariaSat-1 is a commercial communications satellite that will be delivered by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). It will be the first geostationary communications satellite in Bulgaria's history. The satellite was built by SSL in Palo Alto, California, which is expected to provide direct-to-home television (DTH) and data communications services to the Southeastern European region and other European countries. The BulgariaSat-1 satellite will be placed at the Bulgarian orbital position at 1.9 degrees East longitude. It offers reliable satellite communications services to broadcast, telecom, corporate, and government clients.
This mission's payload includes 30 Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) Ku-band transponders and two Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Ku-band transponders. These satellite equipment are required to meet the current demand for high-quality HDTV and Ultra HDTV broadcasting.
The Falcon 9 rocket and the BulgariaSat-1 mission will be launched at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once again, Falcon 9's first stage booster will attempt to land on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship that will be positioned in the Atlantic Ocean.
Iridium NEXT Mission
Earlier this year in January, SpaceX launched the first 1-10 batch of satellites for the Iridium NEXT Mission.
Falcon 9 with 10 Iridium NEXT communications satellites at Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. [Image Source: SpaceX via Flickr]
This second launch will see the deployment of the 11-20 satellites to join Iridium's next-generation global satellite constellation. There will be a total of 70 satellites that will compose the Iridium NEXT constellation. According to SpaceX, "The process of replacing the satellites one-by-one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before". There is a total of 7 SpaceX Falcon 9 launches that will deploy 10 Iridium satellites each time.
The second launch of the Iridium NEXT Mission will take place on the 25th of June, 2017 at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The third launch of the 21-30 Iridium NEXT satellites is scheduled for some time in August 2017.
This twofold launch by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will be one of their many important milestones achieved in 2017. It will bring Musk and his space company closer to their ultimate goal of populating space and Earth's neighboring planet Mars.