1:45 pm ET Friday update: SpaceX has scoured its attempt to launch Starlink for Friday. The company announced the delay saying on Twitter: “Withdrawing from today’s Starlink mission; the team needed additional time for pre-launch payments, but Falcon 9 and the satellites are healthy. It will announce a new launch date once confirmed in the Range “.
Original publication: SpaceX is preparing for its tenth Starlink satellite launch on Friday afternoon. Launch on board a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is scheduled for 4:18 pm ET (20:18 UTC). The weather outlook for Friday’s launch attempt is favorable.
In this tenth launch, it’s worth going back to realize that in addition to developing reusable rockets, two different Dragon spaceships, and working on their ambitious spacecraft project, SpaceX has also built 600 satellites in recent years. And these are not small CubeSats: each of the Starlink satellites weighs 260kg and has its own onboard propulsion system. This is a fairly remarkable new production capacity.
That SpaceX has launched so many satellites in the past year, and plans to launch thousands more as it constructs a constellation of beacons in low Earth orbit to provide a global Internet service from space, has generated understandable concern among astronomers. SpaceX has tried to be mindful of these concerns.
Previously, starting in January, SpaceX began experimenting with darkening its satellites to make them less reflective. This helped reduce its brightness by approximately one magnitude. Now with this release, the company will look to address some of those concerns later. The company has developed a radio-transparent foam that will come out of the satellites and prevent reflection.
“This visor lies flat on the chassis during launch and unfolds during the Falcon 9 satellite separation,” the company said. “The visor prevents light from reflecting off the diffuse antennas by preventing light from reaching the antennas entirely. This approach not only prevents thermal shocks from the surface from obscuring the antennas, but should also have a greater impact on brightness reduction. “
Now these “visor” satellites will have a chance to shine, or rather not shine, in space. Friday’s launch attempt will include 57 Starlink satellites, with viewfinders, along with a shared ride mission of two BlackSky Global satellites hosted by Spaceflight. This carpool mission should help SpaceX offset some of its launch costs.
This will be the third time that SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 core five times – this booster began its career with the Demo-1 mission in March 2019 and has since flown on three other missions. The company will seek to recover this reinforcement in Of course i still love you droneship. The webcast below should start about 15 minutes before takeoff.