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SpaceX goes for its 11th launch of the year early on Monday

Enlarge / Launch of the OTV-5 mission last September by the Falcon 9 rocket. The first stage is back on the launch pad Sunday for its second flight. (credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX will go for its 11th successful launch of the year early on Monday, with a mission to send a communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. The launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, has a four-hour window that opens at 12:29am ET (04:29 UTC). The weather appears favorable, with a 70-percent chance of “go” conditions.

This flight will use the Falcon 9 first stage rocket that first launched the US Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle on its fifth mission last September. (This spacecraft, OTV-5, remains in orbit about 300km above the Earth’s surface. The Air Force has not said what this mini, uncrewed space shuttle is doing.)

SpaceX will not attempt to recover the first stage—the rocket will instead fall into the ocean. The company intends to fly a handful more of its used Block 4 versions of the Falcon 9 rocket before fully transitioning to the Block 5 version later this summer or early fall. The Block 5 variant of the rocket, optimized for reusability, has flown a single time, on May 11.

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