The last time SpaceX launched a satellite-carrying rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, it caused quite a stir.
The dramatic light show over Los Angeles on Dec. 22 stopped traffic, inspiring both alarm and awe. Excited residents called newsrooms and police and fire departments to inquire about the streaking lights.
The Los Angeles Fire Department eventually put out an advisory informing the public that “the mysterious lights in the sky” were from the rocket launch.
And the show goes on.
SpaceX had planned to launch two demonstration satellites into space on Saturday from Vandenberg, but then it rescheduled for Sunday.
The Hawthorne-based company tweeted Saturday, however, that the team needed more time for final inspections, targeting a Wednesday launch.
Team at Vandenberg is taking additional time to perform final checkouts of upgraded fairing. Payload and vehicle remain healthy. Due to mission requirements, now targeting February 21 launch of PAZ.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 17, 2018
The two demonstration satellites, known as Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, will launch as the so-called secondary payload on the Falcon 9 launch, according to documents filed this month with the Federal Communications Commission. The primary mission for Wednesday’s launch is the Paz Earth satellite, which was built by Airbus and will be operated by Spanish government satellite services operator Hisdesat.
It’s the first phase of testing for SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk’s vision to build a space-based broadband internet service within six years. The network would operate at “fiber-like speeds,” especially for individual households and small businesses, according to testimony from Patricia Cooper, SpaceX vice president of government affairs, during a Senate committee hearing in October.
The launch of the demonstration satellites will test their design, structure, subsystems and communication paths.