AMOS-17 flight atop SpaceX Falcon 9 delayed indefinitely
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The flight of Spacecom’s AMOS-17 telecommunications satellite has been postponed indefinitely according to a tweet posted by the Air Force Space Command on Aug. 3. This delay comes shortly after SpaceX, the launch service provider, had announced an issue with the rocket and the need for additional testing.
On Wednesday, July 31, the company conducted a static test fire of the nine Merlin 1D engines located in the Falcon 9’s first stage. The test fire was carried out at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Florida. Normally, the static test fire is one of the last hurdles the Falcon 9 undergoes prior to flight.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, Space Coast Daily posted an update stating that the launch would wait until at least Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. SpaceX made the following statement via Twitter: Team is setting up an additional static fire test of Falcon 9 after replacing a suspect valve. Will confirm updated target launch date for AMOS-17 once complete.
After that second static test fire of the Falcon 9 rocket was carried out on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 3 the AF Space Command posted the following on Twitter: Update: The AMOS-17 satellite launch has pushed till a time to be announced. The satellite will provide telecommunications access across the Middle East, Africa and Europe and will eventually finish up in a geostationary orbit around the Earth
Interestingly, another branch of the U.S. Air Force, the 45th Space Wing has posted that the next launch attempt could occur as early as Aug. 6.
When it does fly, the rocket’s first stage won’t attempt to touch down atop the company’s “Of Course I Still Love You” Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (which is utilized when the Falcon 9 sends rockets to Geostationary Transfer Orbits). This is due to the requirements of sending the AMOS-17 satellite to the proper orbit.
This article was updated 10:58 a.m. EDT (14:58 UTC).
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, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.