July 23, 2021

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SpaceX Falcon 9 returns to Earth with a boom Wednesday: How to watch

2 min read


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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry dozens of small satellites into orbit.


SpaceX/ US Space Force

A Falcon 9 rocket is set to carry 88 small satellites into space on Wednesday before making a rare and resounding landing on dry ground in Florida.

SpaceX will launch its Transporter-2 rideshare mission from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and about eight minutes later the first-stage booster from the vehicle will return to touch down not too far away at Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone One.

Most SpaceX landings are performed in the Atlantic Ocean aboard floating droneship platforms, but about once or twice a year the booster will return to land ashore.

Coming back to touch down on dry land near the populated Space Coast of Florida means many residents may be able to hear and perhaps even feel the Falcon 9 first stage as it flirts with the sound barrier on its descent, possibly producing multiple sonic booms.

“There is a possibility that residents of Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Indian River, Seminole, Volusia, Polk, St. Lucie, and Okeechobee counties may hear one or more sonic booms during the landing,” SpaceX said in a statement to local communities Monday, according to Florida Today. “But what residents experience will depend on weather and other conditions.”

The mission was set to launch on Tuesday, but got scrubbed with 11 seconds to go before liftoff due to an unauthorized plane wandering too close to the launch pad.

“Unfortunately, launch is called off for today, as an aircraft entered the “keep out zone,” which is unreasonably gigantic,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted minutes later.

Transporter-2 is the second launch from the company’s SmallSat Rideshare Program, which is pretty much what it sounds like. The payload bay of the Falcon 9 has been loaded with 85 small spacecraft from both commercial and government customers, along with three of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband satellites.

The booster that will be doing all the heavy lifting during the first few minutes of the mission will be making its eighth flight and landing of its career.

The whole big show is set to get off the ground as early as 11:56 a.m. PT Wednesday (2:56 p.m. ET), but the window for launch runs for 58 minutes.

You can watch the whole mission below. The webcast should go live about ten minutes before launch. Follow this page and me on Twitter @EricCMack for all the latest incremental updates or news of delays.

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.  





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