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After SLS rocket flop, Space Coast visitors make do with SpaceX launch

Tens of thousands of people flocked to Florida’s Space Coast to witness the launch of the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built. So it’s a pity that it never got off the ground.

The first launch attempt, on Monday, August 29, was called off just 40 minutes before NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) rocket was set to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center. Engineers put the cause down to an issue with one of the rocket’s engines.

Then on Saturday, September 3, a second attempt to send the rocket skyward on its maiden flight was scrubbed after engineers spotted a liquid hydrogen leak. It now appears that the next launch effort won’t take place until October at the earliest.

Folks who didn’t want to leave the Space Coast disappointed stayed around until Sunday evening when SpaceX launched its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in its latest satellite deployment for its Starlink internet service.

With 1.7 million pounds of thrust at launch, the Falcon 9’s fireworks weren’t quite as spectacular as what space fans would’ve experienced with the larger and more powerful SLS rocket, which deploys an incredible 8.8 million pounds of thrust to help it escape Earth’s gravity — that’s around a million pounds more than the Saturn V rocket that powered NASA astronauts toward the moon for the historic Apollo missions five decades ago.

But those experiencing their first space launch in person on Sunday will still have been awed by the impressive spectacle of SpaceX’s rocket roaring to space, with the dramatic display likely to have made some folks determined to return next month for NASA’s SLS launch.

For sofa loafers who didn’t have a ringside seat on the Space Coast on Sunday night, here’s SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket heading to orbit:

Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/OebHKPE7lu

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 5, 2022

The Falcon 9 has a reusable first-stage booster, and this particular one has already made multiple trips to space, launching Arabsat-6A, STP-2, COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2, KPLO, and two Starlink missions.

To bring the first-stage booster home so that it can be used for another mission, SpaceX lands it on a barge floating in the ocean, or back to the launch site. For Sunday’s mission, the booster landed on its Just Read the Instructions droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The touchdown marked the 140th landing of a SpaceX orbital class rocket, and the company’s 40th launch and landing of 2022.

Here’s the booster making its latest perfect landing:

Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, completing this orbital rocket booster’s 7th flight pic.twitter.com/2KQJPFZxA0

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 5, 2022

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