MELBOURNE, Fla. — SpaceX is targeting a Sunday evening launch of a Falcon 9 rocket — the company’s first in nearly six months — after an apparently successful test of the rocket’s nine main engines Friday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
“Static fire test looks good,” CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter a little after 7 p.m. ET. “Pending data review, will aim to launch Sunday.”
A Sunday liftoff would be at 8:29 p.m., according to a launch forecast released Friday by the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. The full launch window was not specified.
The forecast shows a 90% chance of favorable weather, with only a slight concern that a coastal shower and clouds could develop around Launch Complex 40.
The forecast indicates that a second launch attempt, if necessary, might not be made until Tuesday, when the weather outlook drops to 60% “go.”
SpaceX is trying to launch for the first time since a June 28 failure, when a Falcon 9’s upper stage ruptured more than two minutes into a launch of International Space Station cargo.
The upcoming mission aims to loft 11 commercial satellites into low Earth orbit for Orbcomm Inc., a company specializing in machine-to-machine communications.
SpaceX had been working on the so-called static fire test since Wednesday, when it lifted the 230-foot Falcon 9 vertical for its first test in Florida of several upgrades that Musk says have significantly improved the rocket over its predecessor, increasing its power.
On Thursday, Musk reported challenges fueling the rocket with near-freezing liquid oxygen, one of the upgrades designed to improve performance.
On Friday, technical glitches aborted the countdown at least twice within minutes of igniting nine first-stage engines.
The engines finally roared to life for about two seconds while the rocket was held down to its pad, completing the test and — if there are no surprises in the data — clearing the Falcon 9 to return to flight this weekend.
After the launch, SpaceX is expected to try to land the rocket’s first stage, either on an ocean platform or possibly on a landing site near the tip of Cape Canaveral, part of its experimental efforts to develop reusable rockets.
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