We’ve known for some time that the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) is tentatively set to launch in November. Is it now possible that the launch could slip to December, perhaps even into early 2019?
In July the Canadian Space Agency said the notional “focus date” was Wednesday, November 7.
A little over a week ago Jeff Foust, a reporter for Space News, reported from the Summit on Earth Observation Business at World Satellite Business Week, that RCM would be ready to ship at the end of this month and that they were working with SpaceX on a date.
At #WSBW Earth observation track, Wayne Hoyle of MDA says the Radarsat Constellation Mission spacecraft should be ready to ship to the launch site at the end of this month; working with SpaceX to set a launch date.
— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) September 13, 2018
The catch in setting a date is that SpaceX has three launches tentatively scheduled for November from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California where RCM will launch from.
SpaceX has launched 4 of its 16 missions this year from Vandenberg with the shortest time between launches being five weeks.
Vandenberg is notorious for wreaking havoc with launch schedules as the Air Force uses the base to test the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Also tentatively scheduled for November from Vandenberg is the SpaceX Iridium Next 66-75 and Spaceflight SSO-A missions. SpaceX has never flown more that one mission from Vandenberg in a month and it takes time between launches to prepare for the next one. The odds of three launches happening Vandenberg in the same month are nil at this time.
Looking at the various launch manifests available including more popular ones hosted at NASASpaceflight.com and reddit, it certainly appears the launch will slip into 2019, possibly launching in January. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.