At least three missions, each flown by different rockets, are scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a 10-day period next month that could close out the 2016 launch manifest.
Here’s what’s coming:
- Dec. 7: United Launch Alliance plans to launch its fourth Delta IV rocket and 11th mission overall this year, sending the Air Force’s eighth Wideband Global Satcom communications satellite into orbit. The night launch window opens before 7 p.m. The WGS-8 spacecraft was lifted atop the rocket last Monday.
- Dec. 12: Orbital ATK brings its air-launched Pegasus rocket to Cape Canaveral for a rare flight. A carrier aircraft will take off first thing in the morning to deploy a rocket carrying eight small satellites forming NASA's CYGNSS science mission, which will study hurricanes.
- Dec. 16: ULA’s final mission of the year will see an Atlas V launch the EchoStar-19 commercial communications satellite in the early afternoon.
The lineup doesn’t yet include a return to flight by SpaceX, which has said it hopes to launch a Falcon 9 rocket before the end of the year, pending completion of its investigation into a Falcon 9 rocket’s Sept. 1 launch pad explosion.