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Old 27th Feb 2016, 10:56
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ORAC
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SpaceX considering Sunday launch try

SpaceX scrubbed a second Falcon 9 launch attempt from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday.

SpaceX is considering a third attempt to launch a commercial communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as soon as Sunday evening.

A forecast posted by the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron Wing shows near-perfect conditions are expected during a more than 90-minute launch window running from 6:47 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. Sunday. The weather would also be excellent Monday, should an attempt be made then, with a 90 percent chance of acceptable weather.

SpaceX has not yet confirmed its plans, saying only that it is reviewing data and the next available launch date.

The company's first two attempts to launch the SES-9 satellite scrubbed on Wednesday and Thursday. In both cases, SpaceX cited challenges keeping the two-stage rocket's supply of liquid oxygen at cold enough temperatures. Wednesday's countdown was halted about a half-hour before the launch window opened, before the liquid oxygen was loaded onto the 230-foot rocket. Thursday's countdown scrubbed less than two minutes before a planned blastoff.

The Falcon 9 is flying for the second time in what SpaceX calls its "upgraded" or "full thrust" version, which uses liquid oxygen chilled almost to its freezing point to make it more dense, so tanks can hold more. The upgraded rocket generates more thrust, enabling it to lift heavier payloads and creating more opportunities for SpaceX to try to land the first-stage boosters.

The fueling process begins just 30 minutes before the targeted launch time, and SpaceX has said there's only enough time during this window to perform that process once. If the rocket isn't ready to go at the targeted time, the liquid oxygen must be offloaded and the launch delayed to another day.

The nearly 12,000-pound SES-9 satellite, owned by Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES, is the heaviest yet that a Falcon 9 will try to lift to an orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator, requiring all of the the rocket's performance.

SpaceX plans to try to land the booster on a ship located 400 miles down range. Given the speed the rocket will be traveling and limited fuel to spare, the company has said a successful landing is unlikely.
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