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SpaceX successfully completes first launch of 2021

SpaceX launched the first of two communication satellites for Turksat to provide general telecommunication services to Turkey and other countries.
Credit: SpaceX

UPDATE: We have liftoff! SpaceX successfully completed its first launch of 2021 as it sent the first of two communication satellites for Turksat to space.

The satellite will provide general telecommunication services to Turkey and other countries. 

Tonight's launch ended up targeting 9:15 p.m. within its four-hour window to get underway. This launch also marks SpaceX's 71st booter recovery as the Falcon 9 rocket touched down on drone ship “Just Read the Instructions.” 

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SpaceX plans to launch a rocket into Space Thursday night in Cape Canaveral.

These nighttime launches are usually quite a spectacle to see, even from hundreds of miles away in Tampa Bay. However, clouds are likely to obscure the view for this launch.

The SpaceX mission is to launch the first of two communication satellites for Turksat to provide general telecommunication services to Turkey and other countries.

While weather conditions are expected to be mostly favorable for Florida's first rocket launch of 2021, there will be a fair amount of clouds between Tampa Bay and Cape Canaveral, which could cause viewing issues from the 130+ mile distance. With relatively clear skies, these rocket launches are typically quite visible from Tampa Bay.

The Thursday night Falcon 9 mission has a planned four-hour launch window that opens at 8:28 p.m. and Space Force forecasters have increased their "go" forecast to 70-percent ahead of liftoff at Launch Complex 40. 

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

The only weather threat will come from a cold front that moves into the Florida peninsula late Thursday night, though it is not expected to arrive until after the launch window. However, the front itself will be preceded by increasing clouds and a rain chance during the launch window. 

“Increasing clouds during the window will remain a watch item. The primary concern this evening remains cumulus clouds and thick clouds, especially in the latter half of the window,” the 45th Weather Squadron forecasters said Thursday.

To try and view the launch, look northwest from Tampa Bay toward Cape Canaveral at launch time. It's typically several minutes after launch before it becomes visible from this distance.

After the rocket launch, SpaceX also plans to land the Falcon 9 booster in the Atlantic Ocean on the autonomous “Just Read the Instructions spaceport drone ship. 

According to the Anadolu Agency, a state-run news agency headquartered in Ankara, Turkey, the satellite will mostly serve in broadcast roles and cover Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, and portions of Africa.

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