Editor’s note for Jan. 29: SpaceX has delayed its launch of the Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 satellite for Italy to no earlier than Sunday, Jan. 30, at 6:11 pm EST (2311 GMT) due to bad weather.
SpaceX is now expected to launch an Italian Earth-observation satellite no earlier than Sunday (Jan. 30), two days later than planned due to bad weather, and you’ll be able to watch it live here when it lifts off.
A two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket topped with the Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 (CSG-2) satellite is scheduled to lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 6:11 pm EST (2311 GMT) on Saturday. SpaceX Initially aimed to launch the mission Thursday, but postponed it for 24 hours less than an hour before liftoff. A launch attempt on Friday was prevented by a thick cloud layer and weather continued to thwart the launch on Saturday, the company said.
“Due to weather in Florida affecting pre-launch operations, now targeting Sunday, January 30 at 6:11 pm EST for launch of COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 from SLC-40,” SpaceX wrote on Twitter after scrubbing the launch.
You can watch all the action live here at Space.com when the time comes, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company. SpaceX webcasts generally start 15 to 20 minutes before liftoff.
Sunday’s weather forecast calls for more than a 90% chance of good launch conditions, with thick clouds as the only concern, according to a forecast from the US Space Force’s Delta 45 group.
The Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation program is funded by the Italian Space Agency, the Italian Ministry of Defense and the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Scientific Research. The system consists of two satellites, which are designed to observe Earth using synthetic aperture radar (SAR).
CSG is an enhanced follow-on to the original Cosmo-SkyMed system.
“COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation[‘s] purpose is to monitor the Earth for the sake of emergency prevention, strategy, scientific and commercial purposes, providing data on a global scale to support a variety of applications among which risk management, cartography, forest and environment protection, natural resources exploration, land management , defense and security, maritime surveillance, food and agriculture management, “European Space Agency officials wrote in a description of the program.
The first CSG satellite, CSG-1, launched atop an Arianespace Soyuz rocket from Kourou, French Guiana in December 2019 and is currently operating in a sun-synchronous polar orbit, 385 miles (620 kilometers) above Earth. CSG-2 is headed for the same orbit.
This will be the third launch for this Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage. The booster previously helped launch the Arabsat-6A communications satellite and Space Test Program 2 mission for the US military. For this flight, the rocket is expected to come back for a vertical touchdown at SpaceX’s Landing Site 1 at Cape Canaveral not long after launch.
Sunday’s planned launch is part of a very busy 10-day stretch for SpaceX. Its robotic Dragon cargo spacecraft returned from the International Space Station on Monday (Jan. 24), and the company is planning to launch a batch of its Starlink internet satellites from Florida on Monday (Jan. 31) after a two-day delay due to the weather issues, as well as the NROL-87 mission for the US National Reconnaissance Office on Feb. 2 from SpaceX’s California launch pad at the Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Editor’s note: SpaceX had originally targeted Thursday (Jan. 27) for the launch of CSG-2 but has delayed the flight several times due to bad weather. This story was updated at 5:46 pm EST (2246 GMT) on Jan. 29 to reflect the latest delay.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter PSpacedotcom or on Facebook.