Spaceflight Insider

Dec. 19 launch for SpaceX Falcon 9 unlikely

SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 for NASA CRS 3 mission photo credit Jared Haworth / SpaceFlight Insider

(Archive Photo) Photo Credit: Jared Haworth

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX did not conduct a static test fire of the Hawthorne, California-based aerospace firm’s Falcon 9 v1.2 rocket today (Wednesday, Dec. 16). This means the oft-stated Saturday, Dec. 19, launch attempt – the first for the v1.2 version of the F9, and the return-to-flight mission for the rocket – will likely take place on a later date.

SpaceFlight Insider reached out to SpaceX for additional information regarding this test. As of this writing, we have not received a reply.

Once the static test fire is conducted, SpaceX normally conducts a launch two to three days later.

This upcoming first flight of the v1.2 variant is being carried out to send 11 second-generation Orbcomm satellites to orbit. Orbcomm, the customer on this flight, changed places with global satellite operator SES.

It is likely that, if things go according to what SpaceX has planned, this mission will not be remembered as another “routine” satellite delivery run, but rather, the mission that changed how space flight is conducted.

SpaceX has been working to have the first stage of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters conduct controlled landings after they have completed the task of ferrying cargo to orbital destinations. The NewSpace firm has stated that it will attempt a ground landing on this mission at what was Space Launch Complex 13 (since renamed Landing Complex 1).


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

Hope it’s just a paperwork issue or they are waiting for the landing approval. Hope it’s not a major technical problem.

if it’d be just that – Either Musk would Twitt something or SpaceX itself would complain. They never missed an opportunity to criticise FAA.

“the mission that changed how space flight is conducted” – that’s one over-the-top statement. Even in a very best case scenario – it’s still a one-off trick. To see any change we’d first need to see a proof that reusability of VTVL launch vehicles is feasible and that there’s a market for it. So far SpaceX is far, far from proving either of these while at the same time having a long record of over-promising, which isn’t too reassuring from corporate perspective (as opposite to random fanboysm that’s all over SpaceX).

It may be somewhat over the top, but you have to recognize that a “one-off trick” is the way that any major technological advance starts. The Wright Brothers achieving powered flight was a “one-off trick” until they did it again and people began improving on what they began.

Has Space-x received OK from FAA to land booster at Kenney? Is this the delay?

Final approval from FAA to come within a few hours of liftoff due to any last minute considerations of airspace/pad readiness. JRTI on standby either way.

The pros and cons of privately funded space enterprises…
On the pro side, you get much faster innovation and implementation of new ideas.
On the con side, a private enterprise is just that…private!
And so as a sideline fan and observer we don’t always get the transparency we do with public NASA programs.

I wish you the greatest success Space-X! It is about time to put an end to all of these single use multi-million dollar rockets. Seems like such a waste. I am so excited about this for Space-X!!!

Better safe than sorry. Space X has no need to rush.This is a very big operation; therefore, everybody who is involved must give their ok.

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Jason Rhian – Editor, SpaceFlight Insider

The “flight that changes everything” will be the first successful reuse. I suspect that the first Falcon that lands successfully will be torn down for analysis, so that they can learn in detail what refurbishment will actually entail. Whether that rocket can be reused will depend on how much destructive testing they do in the teardown. This is a learning process.



December 17, 2015
Yesterday, SpaceX had a good run through of pad operations and is looking to static fire Falcon 9 this afternoon (exact time TBD).

December 16, 2015
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rolled out of the hanger at the Cape earlier this afternoon in anticipation of static fire and is now vertical at SLC-40 launch pad.

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