SpaceX nails Starlink launch this week, with another coming Sunday

February 5, 2021 0 By boss

While SpaceX and Elon Musk celebrate another high-altitude test of the company’s next-generation Mars rocket in Texas, the company is also staying busy in Florida, with two Falcon 9 missions carrying more than 100 new Starlink satellites to orbit.

The first batch of 60 of SpaceX’s flying routers for its nascent Starlink broadband service blasted off at 10:19 p.m. PT Wednesday (1:19 a.m. Thursday in Florida) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The first-stage booster landed on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic eight minutes later, and SpaceX confirmed the deployment of the satellites nearly an hour after that.

Meanwhile, a separate batch of Starlinks is loaded on a Falcon 9 at Kennedy Space Center. This mission was originally set to blast off Monday but has been postponed a few times and is now slated for 1:31 a.m. PT (4:31 a.m. ET) Sunday. For a moment, this launch was scheduled for just a few hours after the Wednesday night launch, and everything seemed set for one very busy night at Cape Canaveral.

But on Wednesday, SpaceX announced it was pushing the Kennedy Space Center launch back to Friday morning “to allow additional time for pre-launch checks.” It has since been delayed one more time to Sunday.

The two missions represent the 18th and 19th Starlink launches overall.

SpaceX has long been working toward upping the pace of its launches. Musk has said he’d eventually like to see his rockets landed and turned around for another launch within 24 hours. Of course, he’s talking about a single booster there, and this week’s missions involve two separate boosters. Nonetheless, pulling off two missions back to back from Cape Canaveral while also managing the SN9 launch situation in Texas is yet another test of the company’s overall operational capacity.

Launch delays are common, however, so it’s possible the schedule will continue to shift.

You can watch the replay of the first launch above, and we’ll bring you the next one as well right here, starting about 10 minutes before liftoff.

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