SpaceX will debut an upgraded payload fairing for the Falcon 9 rocket when they return to action Wednesday with the launch of Spain’s Paz satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch, which will also carry the first demonstration satellites for SpaceX’s own satellite internet constellation, is targeting an instantaneous launch opportunity at 06:17 Pacific Time (14:17 UTC).
Paz is a radar imaging satellite which will be operated by Spanish company Hisdesat. The spacecraft will provide day and night, all-weather imaging capabilities for Hisdesat’s customer, Spain’s Ministry of Defence.
The launch of Paz had previously been scheduled to take place last Sunday. However, SpaceX announced a delay on Saturday to the next available date: Wednesday.
In announcing this delay, SpaceX confirmed that the rocket would fly with an upgraded payload fairing and that the reason for the delay was to give additional time for checkouts on this part of the vehicle.
The upgrade is understood – although unconfirmed by SpaceX – to be Fairing Version 2 – or “Fairing 2.0” – a new version of the protective shroud expected to improve its survivability for post-launch recovery attempts, and to be reusable on future missions.
Comparison between previous and upgraded fairings, ...