SpaceX plans to launch Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center on Thursday – SpaceFlight Now


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exits the hangar on pad 39A in this file photo. Sincerely: SpaceX

Forecasters forecast a 60 percent chance of favorable weather to launch the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to orbit StarLink broadband satellites.

The launch – set for 2:19 pm EDT (1819 GMT) on Thursday – will add 60 more Starlink satellites to SpaceX’s growing broadband network. SpaceX has launched more than 700 Starlink satellites to date, making the company the owner of the largest fleet of spacecraft in orbit.

Like previous Starlinks, a 229-foot-tall (70 m) Falcon 9 Rocket Head NorthEast from Florida’s Space Coast with 1.7 million pounds of thrust from nine Merlin main engines, then two about its first stage booster and a shed in flight. Minute by minute.

On the second stage of the Falcon 9, a single Merlin engine with a tilt of 532 would fire between 172 mi (278 km) and 162 mi (261 km) in a near-circular orbit twice before exiting a stack of Starlink satellites. There are apprehensions. Degree by pre-launch estimate.

The separation of 60 Starlink satellites from the rocket is scheduled approximately 61 minutes after launch.

SpaceX plans to recover the first stage of Falcon 9 in the drone ship “Just Reading the Instructions”, located northeast of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean, roughly east of Charleston, South Carolina. The first stage propulsion landing is expected eight minutes after the lifting.

The first stage of the launch on Thursday flew two last time, including the May 30 launch of two NASA astronauts on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and the July 20 launch of South Korea’s Anasis 2 military communications satellite. According to SpaceX, half of the clamshell-like payload shroud in Thursday’s mission is also a veteran of the previous two Falcon 9 / Starlink launches.

SpaceX plans to reclaim payload fairing after Thursday’s launch. Two parts of the shroud are designed to land under the parachute.

The mission will mark the 13th launch of Starlink satellites on Thursday as SpaceX ceased deployment of the network in May 2019. SpaceX’s most recent launch Sept 3 launched the last 60 Starlink satellites.

The official launch weather forecast released Wednesday by the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral called for a 60 percent chance of a good condition for liftoff on Falcon 9 Thursday. On Thursday, the primary weather concern will be with cumulus and anvil clouds associated with afternoon thunderstorms.

If the projection is delayed, the forecast has a 40 percent probability of acceptable weather.

SpaceX plans to eventually launch thousands of StarLink satellites, but the first installment of StarLink will number 1,440 spacecraft, according to Jonathan Hoffler, StarHolink and vice president of commercial sales.

“The total global constellation we are targeting is 1,440 satellites, a good number of which are already in orbit,” Hoffeller said.

At the first StarLink launch last May, some of those satellites were taken to lower altitudes and desolated.

Each flat-panel Starlink satellite weighs about a quarter of a ton, and they are built at a SpaceX facility in Redmond, Washington, near Seattle. Expanding on SpaceX’s Pantheon to build in-house hardware, the aerospace company is building its own Starlink satellites, user terminals, and ground stations.

SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation is already the largest fleet of satellites in the world, but hundreds more will be launched in the coming months.

Hoffeller said last month that SpaceX is building six StarLink spacecraft per day, and plans to launch a StarLink mission every two to three weeks until an initial StarLink network of about 1,440 satellites is completed.

A stack of 60 Starlink satellites before the last mission. Sincerely: SpaceX

SpaceX has regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission to eventually blanket the planet with 12,000 Starlink satellites with high-speed, low-latency Internet signals. SpaceX also indicated plans to launch more than 30,000 additional StarLink satellites beyond 12,000 in filings with the International Telecommunication Union.

The Starlink network is one of two major development projects SpaceX is pursuing with the company’s next-generation Starship super-heavy-lift rocket.

In a discussion at the ASCEND Space Science and Technology Summit last month, Hoffeller said that private beta testing is being rolled out in the Pacific Westway. With about 700 satellites, the Starlink network has sufficient coverage to provide connectivity to users at high latitudes, but more launches are needed to expand coverage to other regions.

SpaceX has asked people willing to participate in the public beta testing phase to sign up on the Starlink website.

Now a beta testing program is underway, SpaceX is collecting latency data and performing speed tests. The company says it is pleased with the initial results.

SpaceX said earlier this month that testing so far showed that the network has “super low latency” with download speeds exceeding 100 megabits per second. According to SpaceX it is fast enough to stream many HD movies, and is still extra for bandwidth.

SpaceX has also begun testing spacecraft with inter-satellite laser links, which may eventually allow data traffic to flow through the network without passing through ground-dependent stations. The first batch of Starlink satellites did not have inter-satellite links

Hoffeller pointed to upgraded Starlink satellites in its virtual presentation at the ASCEND Space Science and Technology Summit last month

“With 1,440 satellites, that’s when we get 24/7 global coverage, and the plan is not to stop there,” Hoffeller said. “We will continue to launch, and with each launch, we can provide greater capacity. Not enough capacity. You cannot limit what you want your children to see, and what your family wants to consume. So we will continue to intensify the network. ”

According to Hofeler, SpaceX will destroy the old Starlink satellite as soon as the upgraded spacecraft comes online.

Following its launch on Thursday, SpaceX’s next mission is set to fly from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 30, when a Falcon 9 rocket will deploy the US Space Force’s next GPS navigation satellite.

Email the author

Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.