Today, SpaceX will attempt 2 launches from two different locations. The first launch will take place from Vandenberg, California at 1:19 pm eastern time. This will be a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a South Korean satellite known as the 425 Project Flight 1. The next launch will take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and has a launch window from 11:00 pm till 3:00 am Saturday morning. This will be a Falcon 9 rocket carrying Starlink satellites Group 6-31.
The 425 Project Flight 1 is a strategic endeavor undertaken by South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). It marks the first of a series of five launches aimed at deploying reconnaissance satellites into orbit. This project is key to enhancing South Korea’s satellite reconnaissance capabilities. The initial launch involves sending a reconnaissance satellite equipped with an electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) telescope into orbit. This satellite is specifically designed for Earth observation, utilizing advanced EO/IR technology to capture detailed imagery. Following this, there are plans to launch four additional satellites equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology by 2025. These SAR satellites can provide high-resolution images regardless of weather conditions or time of day, significantly enhancing South Korea’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
The satellite will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, manufactured and operated by SpaceX. This rocket type is known for its high performance and reusability. The Falcon 9 is designed to deliver a payload to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) of up to about 50,000 pounds and to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) of about 18000 pounds. The rocket stands 230 feet tall, with a fairing diameter of 17 feet and a fairing height of 43 feet. The total liftoff thrust of the rocket is 1.7 million pounds of force. The cost for this particular launch is approximately $67.0 million. The launch is scheduled for December 1, 2023, at 10:04 AM PST. The Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from a launch site, and the mission involves placing the EO/IR satellite into its designated orbit. This mission marks the beginning of a series of launches under the 425 Project, emphasizing the growing importance of space-based reconnaissance and surveillance in modern defense strategies. The successful deployment of these satellites will represent a significant advancement in South Korea’s capabilities in space-based observation and surveillance, playing a crucial role in national security and defense.
The Starlink Group 6-31 launch, scheduled for tonight from Cape Canaveral, is part of SpaceX’s ongoing mission to expand its Starlink satellite internet constellation. The launch is scheduled for December 1, 2023, with a launch window from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. EST. This time frame corresponds to December 2, 2023, from 4:00 to 8:00 UTC.