SpaceX has ramped up its launch cadence in 2021. For the past month, SpaceX has been launching flight-proven Falcon 9 rockets at least once a week to deploy its internet Starlink satellite constellation. Less than a week ago, on May 9, SpaceX launched its 27th Starlink deployment which increased the broadband constellation size to around 1,625 satellites in orbit. The company is ready to conduct the 28th Starlink mission over the weekend. Two satellites will hitch-a-ride aboard SpaceX’s upcoming mission atop a veteran Falcon 9 rocket. “Targeting Saturday, May 15 at 6:54 p.m. EDT for launch of the next Starlink mission from Florida; team is keeping an eye on recovery weather conditions,” SpaceX announced this afternoon. The previously-flown rocket booster will propel to orbit from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying 52 Starlink satellites, along with Capella Space’s Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, and the Tyvak-0130 satellite for Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc.
Falcon 9 will send to orbit 52 Starlink satellites, a Capella Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, and Tyvak-0130— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 14, 2021
The booster designated for the this Starlink mission is identified as production number B1058-8; It has performed seven flights. Its first flight was SpaceX’s first crewed mission that transported NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station aboard the upgraded Crew Dragon spacecraft. B1058-8’s second flight was when it launched South Korea’s ANASIS-II satellite. The same booster then conducted SpaceX’s CRS-21 resupply mission to the Space Station for NASA, its first rideshare mission known as Transporter-1, and three previous Starlink missions. Now, booster B1058-8 will liftoff an eighth time this weekend. SpaceX aims to reuse boosters at least ten times. They will attempt to recover the first-stage booster by landing it an eight time on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ autonomous droneship, that will be located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 630-kilometers downrange off Florida’s Coast. “One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported the SXM-7 mission, and the other previously supported the NROL-108 mission,” SpaceX said.
U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron Launch Mission Execution Forecast
Image Source: U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron
The U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts 70% favorable weather conditions. “[…] The main concerns for Saturday’s attempt are liftoff winds and the Cumulus Cloud Rule,” they stated. “For Sunday, there will be marginally improved conditions as the high pressure slowly slides southeast and remains in control.” Weather conditions must be favorable to recover the veteran Falcon 9 first-stage booster again. The Squadron predicts “moderate” sea conditions for Saturday’s booster recovery plan. If weather conditions are unfavorable during the launch window, there is a backup launch opportunity scheduled for Sunday, May 16 at 6:33 p.m. EDT. You can watch the 28th Starlink mission Live in the video below, courtesy of SpaceX. The aerospace company will also host a Reddit AMA 'Ask Me Anything' tomorrow during which engineers will answer questions about a variety of SpaceX-related subjects, visit the link below to participate.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: SpaceX