SpaceX Delays Rocket Launch, Eyes Potential Spaceflight 'Doubleheader'

Tariq Malik Managing Editor

SpaceX has delayed the launch of its next Falcon 9 rocket to at least Friday (June 23), setting the stage for a possible "weekend doubleheader," company representatives said this weekend.

On Sunday (June 18), SpaceX announced it had pushed back the Monday afternoon launch of a Bulgarian communications satellite to no earlier than Friday so ground crews could replace a valve on the Falcon 9 booster.

The delay means SpaceX will now launch a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket with the Bulgarian satellite (called BulgariaSat-1) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, then launch another commercial satellite mission on Sunday (June 25) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. That Sunday flight will use a new Falcon 9 to launch 10 new satellites for the Virginia-based company Iridium, which is building a 70-satellite constellation for its Iridium NEXT mobile communications network.

The BulgariaSat-1 launch will mark SpaceX's second flight using a used Falcon 9 rocket booster. It happens to be the same one SpaceX used in January to launch the first 10 satellites of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation.

The Iridium satellites launching Sunday on the brand-new Falcon 9 rocket will be satellites No. 11-20 of the NEXT constellation.  

SpaceX is expected to attempt Falcon 9 first stage booster landings for both of the upcoming launches as part of its reusable rocket program to lower the cost of spaceflight.

SpaceX has landed Falcon 9 boosters 11 times so far, and even relaunched one of them in March. On June 3, the company launched its first reused Dragon cargo spacecraft, a robotic capsule packed with NASA supplies for the International Space Station. That Dragon capsule will return to Earth in early July.

Email Tariq Malik at or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

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