July 22, 2024

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Falcon 9 faces thunderstorms in Florida on Sunday in its second launch attempt – Spaceflight Now

Falcon 9 faces thunderstorms in Florida on Sunday in its second launch attempt – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX will make another attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral after thunderstorms delayed the mission Saturday. The rocket carrying 22 second-generation Starlink satellites is now scheduled to lift off at 7:09 PM EST (2309 UTC) but weather is again expected to be an issue.

In a forecast issued Friday, the 45th Met Squadron issued Saturday predicted only a 30 percent change in acceptable conditions when the launch window opened on Sunday, but that improves to 75 percent by the end of the window. After the initial launch time, there are three backup opportunities at 8:50 PM EST (0050 UTC), 9:41 PM EST (0141 UTC) and 10:31 PM EST (0231 UTC).

On Saturday night, SpaceX repeatedly pushed back its launch date as thunderstorms battered Florida’s space coast. I eventually targeted a point 10 seconds before the end of today’s launch window at 11:03:50 PM EST (0303:50 UTC on Sunday). Ground teams began the automated fueling process for the Falcon 9 but the launch director called for a scrub about 14 minutes before the countdown clock.

After liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40, Falcon 9 will head to the southeast, aiming for an orbit inclined at 43 degrees to the equator. After separating from the second stage about two and a half minutes into the flight, the booster will lower power to land aboard the Just Read the Instructions drone ship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean east of the Bahamas.

This will be the sixth flight of the booster first stage, tail number 1076, which launched the CRS-26, OneWeb Launch 16 and Intelsat IS-40e missions. I also completed two previous Starlink deliveries.

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It would take two second-stage burners to put the satellites into the required 303 x 294 km orbit. It is scheduled to separate 22 satellites only one hour after the flight time.

File photo of SpaceX’s Starlink V2 Mini satellite inside the Payload Processing Facility at Cape Canaveral. Image: SpaceX

This will be the seventh launch of the so-called V2 mini-satellites, which are larger and have four times the bandwidth of previous models. The full-size V2 Starlink satellites are scheduled to be launched by SpaceX’s fully reusable spacecraft, but the delayed appearance of the Starship has led SpaceX to create a condensed version of the satellites so they can be launched on Falcon 9.

According to statistics compiled by Jonathan McDowell, a well-respected astronomer and expert on spaceflight activity, SpaceX has launched 4,837 Starlink satellites to date, and the number of Starlink satellites currently in orbit is 4,497.

In early May, SpaceX announced that it had more than 1.5 million Starlink subscribers. The company’s Internet service is available in more than 56 countries.