Watch SpaceX’s last launch of 2020 — Join CFACT LIVE!


We’ve all got our 2020 stories to tell but for America in space 2020 has been glorious.

Watch SpaceX launch a classified military satellite on a REUSABLE Falcon 9 rocket, possibly in minutes. WATCH NOW

UPDATE: Launch on hold. Launch window still open Thursday morning, next launch window Friday morning. Stay with us!

From SpaceX:

SpaceX is targeting Thursday, December 17 at 9:45 a.m. EST for launch of the NROL-108 mission, which will launch from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Friday’s three-hour launch window closes at 12:00 p.m. EST, or 17:00 UTC, and a backup launch opportunity is available on Friday, December 18 with a three-hour launch window opening at 9:00 a.m. EST, or 14:00 UTC. Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously supported launch of SpaceX’s 19th and 20th cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, a Starlink mission, and the SAOCOM 1B mission. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Falcon 9

Overview

HEIGHT 70 m / 229.6 ft
DIAMETER 3.7 m / 12 ft
MASS 549,054 kg / 1,207,920 lb
PAYLOAD TO LEO 22,800 kg / 50,265 lb
PAYLOAD TO GTO 8,300 kg / 18,300 lb
PAYLOAD TO MARS 4,020 kg / 8,860 lb

Falcon 9

First stage

Falcon 9’s first stage incorporates nine Merlin engines and aluminum-lithium alloy tanks containing liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellant.

Falcon 9 generates more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust at sea level.

Falcon 9

Second stage

The second stage, powered by a single Merlin Vacuum Engine, delivers Falcon 9’s payload to the desired orbit. The second stage engine ignites a few seconds after stage separation, and can be restarted multiple times to place multiple payloads into different orbits.

NUMBER OF ENGINES 1 vacuum
BURN TIME 397 sec
THRUST 981 kN / 220,500 lbf

Falcon 9

Interstage

The interstage is a composite structure that connects the first and second stages, and houses the pneumatic pushers that allow the first and second stage to separate during flight.

Grid fins

Falcon 9 is equipped with four hypersonic grid fins positioned at the base of the interstage. They orient the rocket during reentry by moving the center of pressure.

Payload

Made of a carbon composite material, the fairing protects satellites on their way to orbit. The fairing is jettisoned approximately 3 minutes into flight, and SpaceX continues to recover fairings for reuse on future missions.

HEIGHT 13.1 m / 43 ft
DIAMETER 5.2 m / 17.1 ft

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