Featured Image Source: Elon Musk
SpaceX aims to close the digital divide in rural areas across the world by providing Starlink satellite broadband internet. On October 1st, SpaceX attempted to launch the thirteenth fleet of Starlink satellites atop a twice-flown Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission was automatically aborted 18 seconds before liftoff due to an anomalous ground-sensor reading. -"Standing down from today's Starlink mission due to an out of family ground system sensor reading; will announce a new target launch date once confirmed on the Range," SpaceX stated on Saturday. During the mission's Live broadcast, Siva Bharadvaj, a spacecraft operator at SpaceX said -"The purpose of countdown is to help us catch potential issues prior to flight. There's a thousand ways that a launch can go wrong and only one way it can go right." Bharadvaj noted that the rocket is in fine condition. "Overall, the vehicle does appear to be in good health," he added. The launch abort came after the mission was previously delayed due to unfavorable weather.
The historic Falcon 9 rocket booster is waiting at Pad 39A to deploy the next fleet of Starlink satellites. The booster is the same one that deployed the first NASA astronauts to orbit in May and the South Korean ANASIS-II satellite in July. It is filled with scorch marks from reenetring Earth's harsh atmosphere on its previous flights (pictured above). After engineers inspected the launch vehicle, the booster is now ready to deploy 60 internet-beaming Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit tomorrow. -- "Targeting Monday, October 5 at 7:51 a.m. EDT for launch of Starlink from LC-39A in Florida," SpaceX announced today. According to the United States Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron, weather will be 60% favorable for launch.
Targeting Monday, October 5 at 7:51 a.m. EDT for launch of Starlink from LC-39A in Florida— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 4, 2020
SpaceX will attempt to recover the booster a third time, and land it on the autonomous Of Course I Still Love You drone ship which will be waiting around 633-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. The company may also try to recover the Falcon 9's payload fairing (top nose cone section). Twin recovery ships are on their way to the recovery location. These ships are named Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief, they feature a large net that catches the fairing halves as they conduct a parachute-assisted landing from space, pictured below. Watch the mission Live in the video linked at the end of the article.
Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief have just departed from the Port of Morehead City towards the Starlink fairing recovery zone! pic.twitter.com/NiA6jTEWOH— Gavin - SpaceXFleet.com (@SpaceXFleet) October 4, 2020
If the rocket blasts-off tomorrow, SpaceX will increase its Starlink satellite constellation to around 768 satellites operating in low Earth orbit. The company already operates the largest broadband satellite constellation in the world and plans to offer service to rural areas in northern United States and Canada before this year comes to an end. By next year, it aims to offer service globally. Company employees are privately assessing the network's performance at work and at home. SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared this week that SpaceX will soon offer a Public beta test of its service in northern portions of the United States. You can sign-up via Starlink.com.
WATCH IT LIVE!
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.