The third-ever launch of the powerful SpaceXrocket has been pushed back at least two days, to June 24 at the earliest, U.S. Air Force officials announced today (June 7).
“Right now, we're finishing up some of the final integration and launch preparation and operations," Lt. Col. Ryan Rose told reporters during a telecon today. Rose is chief of the Small Launch and Targets Division of the Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, which is based at the Space and Missile Systems Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
"Right now, we're looking at probably no earlier than June 24 as we complete those activities," she added. "We want to make sure we're ready for a successful launch."
The upcoming mission, known as STP-2, had been targeted for June 22. It will lift off from historic Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The four-hour launch window opens at 11:30 p.m. EDT (0330 GMT on June 25).
The U.S. military plans to launch its Advanced Extremely High Frequency 5 (AEHF-5) satellite on June 27 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is next to KSC. So, if STP-2 cannot meet its new target date, the mission may have to wait until after AEHF-5, Air Force officials said.
"The range is pretty crowded in that time frame," STP-2 mission director Walter Lauderdale, of the Falcon Systems & Ops Division, said during today's telecon.
STP-2 is managed by the Air Force via its Space Test Program (the "STP" in STP-2). The mission will launch two dozen satellites, including a NASA atomic clock and LightSail 2, a solar-sailing demonstrator built by the nonprofit Planetary Society.