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SpaceX is ready for its seventh launch of the year, set to liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Wednesday.
The company will livestream the launch, which is scheduled between 10:17 a.m. to 10:30 a.m ET (14:17-14:30 UTC).
SpaceX is using a Falcon 9 rocket to launch three satellites built by Maxar Technologies’ subsidiary MDA in a mission called “RADARSAT Constellation.” The Falcon 9 rocket’s lower “booster” stage previously launched the company’s “Demo-1” mission in March of this year before it landed for reuse.
The three surveillance spacecraft are known as “synthetic aperture radar” satellites and are built for Canada, to image the country and Arctic multiple times a day. Synthetic aperture radar is a technology that allows imaging during any time, regardless of daylight or cloud cover. The three satellites “will help create precise sea ice maps of Canada’s oceans and the Great Lakes to facilitate navigation and commercial maritime transportation,” SpaceX said in a press release.
The trio of satellites cost Canada about $900 million to build, likely making this the second most valuable payload SpaceX has launched. The top secret Zuma satellite that SpaceX launched in January 2018 was reportedly worth about $3.5 billion.
Maxar shared an image of the Falcon 9 rocket ready on the launchpad on Tuesday, with a photo from Maxar satellites already in orbit.
Less than eight minutes after liftoff, SpaceX will attempt to land the large “booster” stage of the Falcon 9 rocket at the company’s pad. Known as Landing Zone 4 (“LZ-4”), the concrete landing pad is adjacent to SpaceX’s launchpad at Vandenberg.
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