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Space X SAOCOM-1B Delayed indefinitely; COVID-19

The first rocket launch to be severely affected by COVID-19 is now officially upon us. On March 24th; Launch Services Provider, Space X and Argentinian customer, CONAE, announced that their upcoming mission to Low Earth Orbit is now postponed indefinitely.

In a statement released to the press, The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE), detail their reasons for scrubbing SAOCOM-1B, which was slated for liftoff from Cape Canaveral at the end of March.

"This decision has been made considering the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and that could affect the availability of own resources and foreign third-party resources, necessary not only for a safe insertion into orbit, but also for further operation of the satellite".

This statement, comes just days after Argentina's President, Alberto Fernandez, declared a national quarantine as well as the announcement that the first Kennedy Space Center employee had tested positive for the viral infection.

The press release also details that the decision to delay launch, was a precaution that was mutually agreed upon by Space X and their teams at Pad 40 in Cape Canaveral, going on to say, "This postponement has been agreed with the company providing the launch service, Space X, considering that it is the best decision in these moments of uncertainty" and that "This measure will be supplemented with activities at the launch base that will ensure the conditions for adequate protection of the SAOCOM-1B satellite at the Space X facilities".

SAOCOM-1B, is intended to be the first Polar Orbit launch from the United States East Coast in 60 years. A trajectory which will take the Falcon 9 launch vehicle South directly over the Space Coast shore lines. The Low Earth Orbit nature of the mission also allows Space X to preform a Return to Launch Site Recovery of the rocket's first stage booster at LZ-1.

Thus far, the current COVID-19 crisis seems to have little impact on any of Space X's additional upcoming missions, as partner NASA, continues to move forward with Media Accreditation for the DM-2 Crewed launch, now targeting NET mid-May.

We will update you on a new target date for SACOM-1B as soon as one becomes available.

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