CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 88 satellites successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Wednesday at 3:31 p.m. Eastern Time.
What You Need To Know
- SpaceX successfully lifts off on second attempt, sends 88 satellites into space
- The mission aims to deliver 88 small satellites into sun-synchronous orbit, SpaceX says
- Residents in Central Florida could hear a sonic boom as the booster rocket returned to land
The liftoff was the second launch attempt and came after the Federal Aviation Administration said a helicopter crossed into restricted space, calling off Tuesday's launch try with seconds to liftoff. The countdown clock was stopped at 11 seconds to go.
On Wednesday, weather forced the launch team to push back the liftoff several times during the nearly hourlong window, but the takeoff itself was uneventful.
But we had an un-eventful liftoff. The flight path followed south along the Florida Coast so the satellites could be put in a polar orbit.
Fewer than 10 minutes after launch, the Falcon 9's first-stage booster returned to Earth at Landing Zone 1, generating a sonic boom heard around the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and outlying counties.
Meanwhile, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was still not happy about the reasons for Tuesday's delay. He tweeted immediately afterward.
Crowds had gathered at the port to see the launch also saw the helicopter flying.
"Out of nowhere, a small charter helicopter hovered right above us probably 200 feet or so, and the launch cancelled at about 11 seconds, then it spun around and went back to where it came from," launch fan Zeye Theli said.
The FAA said in a statement that the system "worked and kept people safe," and air traffic controllers immediately directed the pilot to leave the area.
The flight path follows south along the Florida Coast so the satellites can be put in a polar orbit.
The FAA's investigation is continuing.
The mission aims to deliver 88 small satellites into sun-synchronous orbit — including the first of those from the Space Development Agency, tasked with developing new technologies for the country's communications and military space defense, like infrared missile detection.
That tech will mean U.S. troops will be able to send and receive data much faster than typical radio communications systems.
Companies such as Lockheed Martin and Melbourne, Fla.-based L3Harris are involved in the effort.
The next scheduled Space Coast launch is a United Launch Alliance Atlas V, sending up the unpiloted Boeing Starliner capsule to the International Space Station for NASA. Liftoff is scheduled for July 30.