An unproven Falcon 9 rocket (B1062.1) streaks to orbit for the first time, lofting the GPS-III SV04 navigation satellite for the US Space Force. [credit:
Trevor Mahlmann for Ars ]
Update 6:50pm EST : Right at the top of its launch window, a brand-new Falcon 9 rocket launched from Florida on Thursday evening. The rocket appeared to soar through its first-stage flight without any issues, dropping its GPS III payload into a parking orbit. The first stage then returned to Earth and safely landed on a drone ship. This was SpaceX’s 20th launch of 2020.
Pending a review of engine data from this launch, it is likely that NASA and SpaceX will clear the Falcon 9 for flight and press ahead with the Crew-1 mission on November 14.
Original post 3:35pm EST: SpaceX has not launched a brand-new rocket since June, when it boosted a GPS III satellite for the US Space Force on a Falcon 9 rocket. Since that time the company has launched several commercial missions and its own Starlink satellites on a variety of previously flown rockets, and they were all successful.