SpaceX rocket launch planned for Tuesday delayed

The Falcon 9 rocket launch planned for Tuesday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base — the West Coast’s first blastoff of 2019 — has slipped at least a day and maybe longer.

On Saturday, mariners’ notices issued to keep boaters away from the base and the launch path revealed the postponement as Falcon’s manufacturer, SpaceX, remained mum.

A delay did not come as a surprise to those who track SpaceX activities since the company had not announced completion of its static fire test.

On Sunday afternoon, however, SpaceX representatives announced on Twitter that the static fire test had been completed in the morning.

“Working with customer to determine best launch opportunity to complete the Iridium Next constellation, will announce targeted launch date once confirmed,” the tweet said.

While notices to mariners were revised to say Wednesday, a gloomy weather forecast that day may mean another delay.

A launch on Tuesday would have occurred at 7:48 a.m. The launch time changed to 5 minutes earlier for each day’s delay.

Rocket launch times depend on where the satellites need to be placed in space. For this mission, the team has just one second each day to get off the ground or try another day.

Vandenberg’s first launch of year will will carry the last 10 Iridium Next satellites to complete the $3-billion, second-generation, communication system constellation.

The campaign to modernize the Iridium constellation began Jan. 14, 2017, with the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg.

Once this eighth launch occurs, the company will have 75 Iridium Next satellites in orbit as it retires the original craft that began launching 20 years ago.

This mission originally was planned for Jan. 7, but officials announced the first delay last week, leading Iridium Communications CEO Matt Desch to post other people’s quotes about patience on his Twitter account — plus a quote of his own.

“I’m trying to be patient ... by looking up good quotes about patience,” he tweeted.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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