SpaceX is ready to launch the 26th Starlink mission this week, after conducting the 25th satellite deployment less than a week ago, on April 28. To date, there’s approximately 1,500 broadband satellites in orbit. The company is already providing beta internet service to customers who pre-ordered via Starlink.com. A veteran Falcon 9 rocket will launch a ninth time to deploy 60 more Starlink satellites tomorrow afternoon. “Targeting Tuesday, May 4 for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The instantaneous window is at 3:01 p.m. EDT,” SpaceX announced. “…But team is keeping an eye on weather in the recovery area,” they said. If weather conditions are unfavorable a backup launch opportunity is also scheduled for Wednesday, May 5 at 2:39 p.m. EDT. The United States Space Force 45th Weather Squadron forecasts 80% favorable weather conditions at the launch complex, however, weather must also be stable in the Atlantic Ocean where the company plans to recover the veteran rocket booster. There could be a “moderate risk” to landing the rocket on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ drone ship due to rough weather at sea. Read full weather forecast in the image below.
Targeting Tuesday, May 4 at 3:01 p.m. EDT for Falcon 9 launch of 60 Starlink satellites from LC-39A in Florida, but team is keeping an eye on weather in the recovery area— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 3, 2021
The Falcon 9 first-stage booster that will conduct the 26th Starlink mission is a fleet leader, identified as booster production number B1049-9; It previously flew on eight missions: the launch of Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and six Starlink missions. “One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported two Starlink missions,” SpaceX said. Engineers aim to push rocket reusability to the next level. Each Falcon 9 first-stage booster will be utilized at least 10 times. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said during a recent press conference that they could probably reuse the booster more than that –“We do intend to fly the Falcon 9 booster until we see some kind of a failure with the Starlink missions,” he said. Rocket reusability is important because it significantly reduces the cost of spaceflight. To date, SpaceX has recovered 81 orbital-class rocket boosters and reused 61. You can watch the Starlink mission in the video below 10-minutes before liftoff, courtesy of SpaceX.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: SpaceX