SpaceX launched a rare expendable Falcon 9 mission late yesterday deploying the Israeli AMOS-17 communications satellite. Although the rocket’s first stage was not recovered, SpaceX did manage to successfully recover a fairing half.
The Falcon 9 carrying the AMOS-17 satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch was delayed half-hour due to stormy weather around the Cape eventually blasting off at 23:23 UTC.
Following a successful launch, the AMOS-17 satellite was deployed into an elliptical transfer orbit en route to a geostationary orbit over the equator.
The booster utilized for the AMOS-17 launch was flight-proven, having previously launched the Telstar 19V satellite in July 2018 and the Es’hail 2 satellite in November 2018. At 6,500 kilograms, the AMOS-17 satellite was too large to launch to a geostationary orbit aboard a reusable Flacon 9. As a result, the rocket was launched in an expendable configuration with the spent booster allowed to fall back to Earth splashing down in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida.
Despite being unable to attempt a booster recovery, SpaceX did successfully recover one half of the fairing used to protect AMOS-17 from the elements during ascent. Although it’s only the second time SpaceX has successfully caught a fairing half in the Ms. Tree recovery ship’s net, it’s the second time a row seemingly validating the system.
SpaceX has expressed plans to utilize the first flight-proven fairing aboard one of its Starlink missions. However, there has currently been no confirmation of when SpaceX expects to launch the first flight-proven fairing.