SpaceX planned to launch the twentieth Starlink satellite fleet on Sunday night. A seven-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex-39A at the Kennedy Space Center was prepared to propel a batch of 60 internet-beaming satellites, however, the Falcon 9 rocket's onboard computer triggered an abort just before a scheduled 8:37 p.m. EST liftoff. At T-1 minute 24 seconds it initiated its auto-abort sequence, unclear what caused the issue. The launch is set to be the Falcon 9 first-stage booster’s eighth flight. The booster is identified by SpaceX as production number B1049-8. It previously launched five Starlink missions, the Iridium-8 mission, and the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission. SpaceX has been using previously flown Falcon 9 boosters and fairings on its Starlink-dedicated missions to develop its reusability program, in an effort to decrease the cost of spaceflight. The company is pushing to fly a particular first-stage booster ten times. To date, the most a particular booster has been reused is eight times.
Watch Falcon 9 launch 60 Starlink satellites to orbit → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK https://t.co/tUKSoNMUl9— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 1, 2021
During the previous Starlink flight on February 15, SpaceX launched satellites to orbit successfully but missed to land the previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster, it splashed-down at sea. SpaceX officials said the failed landing was due to ‘heat damage.’ So, it is unclear what Falcon 9’s onboard computer sensors detected on B1049-8 booster for it to auto-abort the launch as a precaution on Sunday night. The next launch opportunity is on Monday, March 1st at 8:15 p.m. EST. You can watch the mission Live via SpaceX.com or in a video that will be linked below as soon as its available [date is subject to change]. SpaceX UPDATE: "Due to poor weather conditions in the recovery area and to allow additional time for pre-launch checks, now targeting Tuesday, March 2 at 7:53 p.m. EST for launch of Starlink from LC-39A."
Auto-abort at T-1:24 ahead of tonight's Falcon 9 launch of Starlink; next launch opportunity is tomorrow, March 1 at 8:15 p.m. EST— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 1, 2021
The twentieth fleet of 60 Starlink satellites will be deployed into an altitude of approximately 550-kilometers above Earth, where each will beam its signal down to Starlink users’ phased-array dish antennas. SpaceX is already accepting service preorders across the United States and abroad via Starlink.com. "At a time when more people are working from home and more students are participating in virtual learning, internet connectivity is more important than ever. With Starlink, we’re able to deploy quickly to areas that need it most," SpaceX stated, "Last month, Starlinks were deployed to the Wise County Public School District in rural Virginia, where ~40% of students and teachers did not have internet access at home, helping to broaden connectivity in the area." SpaceX aims to connect more rural communities across the United States this year.
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX Live Broadcast
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.