Sonic booms shake Space Coast as SpaceX lands Falcon 9 booster at Cape Canaveral

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Thunderous sonic booms reverberated across the Space Coast early Thursday, signaling yet another successful Falcon 9 launch that began and ended at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

After the 10:25 a.m. liftoff into nearly 100% “go” weather conditions, the 156-foot SpaceX booster split from the second stage at some 46 miles in altitudend flipped around, targeting a landing site just a few miles away from where it started at Launch Complex 40. Eight-and-a-half minutes later, the smoke around Landing Zone 1 cleared to show the booster standing upright as the booms from its supersonic flight reverberated across the area.

It marked the first local landing of a Falcon 9 since June of last year and was the booster’s 10th flight to date.

Falcon 9’s second stage, meanwhile, went on to deliver 105 payloads to orbit. SpaceX labels the program Transporter – this was its third – and it allows customers to split a single Falcon 9’s launch costs so long as their payloads follow identical timelines and go to similar destinations in orbit.

Transporter missions, called “rideshares” in the industry, are akin to dozens of passengers taking a bus rather than a single person hailing a cab. Typically, university-sponsored student payloads are ideal candidates, but some of the heavy hitters find their way onboard, too. Popular rideshare organizer Spaceflight Inc. and Lockheed Martin bought capacity on Thursday’s Transporter-3 launch, to name a few.

Despite the once-a-week cadence – at least so far this year – SpaceX has no intentions of slowing down. The company is again preparing for another Falcon 9 launch, this time at Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A. Liftoff of the 35th batch of Starlink internet satellites is currently targeted for a window between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday, Jan. 17.

It will mark the third polar, or southern trajectory, launch in a row for the Space Coast, a launch site previously seen as unfit to host those missions due to the additional expenditure of fuel and performance required to curve around South Florida. California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base has historically been the host of most polar launches.

A weather forecast for that mission is expected no earlier than Friday.

For the latest, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.

Contact Emre Kelly at [email protected] or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.

Launch Monday, Jan. 17

  • Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
  • Mission: 35th batch of Starlink internet satellites
  • Launch Time: Between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET
  • Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
  • Trajectory: South
  • Landing: Drone ship
  • Weather: Forecast expected Friday

Visit floridatoday.com/space at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, for real-time updates and video.

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