HAWTHORNE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today SpaceX confirmed that the company is targeting launch of the 11 ORBCOMM satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. on Sunday, Dec. 20. The 60-second launch window opens at 8:29 p.m. ET. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on Dec. 21.
In addition to the primary mission of launching ORBCOMM’s fleet of commercial communications satellites, SpaceX is attempting a secondary test objective of landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on land for the first time at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1. Previous attempts to recover the first-stage of the Falcon 9 have been attempted out at sea using the company’s Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships. Landing Zone 1 was previously known as Space Launch Complex 13, a former U.S. Air Force rocket and missile testing range last used in 1978. If successful, this test would mark the first time in history an orbital rocket has successfully achieved a land landing.
Just as when the Space Shuttle returned from space, there is a possibility that residents of northern and central Brevard County, Fla. may hear a sonic boom during landing. A sonic boom is the thunder-like noise a person on the ground hears when an aircraft or other type of aerospace vehicle flies overhead faster than the speed of sound.
Residents of the communities of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Courtenay, Merritt Island, Mims, Port Canaveral, Port St. John, Rockledge, Scottsmoor, Sharpes, and Titusville in Brevard County, Fla. are mostly likely to hear a sonic boom, although what residents experience will depend on weather conditions and other factors.
Residents may wish to follow the company’s launch webcast for real time information concerning Sunday’s launch. The webcast will be available at SpaceX.com/webcast beginning at approximately 8:05 p.m. ET.