Just before sunrise Saturday morning, SpaceX will launch yet another batch of Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral, continuing the company’s mission to build a constellation of satellites that can deliver high-speed Internet to the entire planet.
The launch, scheduled for 5:21 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch complex 40, will deploy 60 small satellites, loaded inside the fairing of a Falcon 9 rocket, to low-Earth orbit. The reusable booster is slated to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship about eight minutes after launch.
Originally scheduled to go off in May, the launch was rescheduled for Friday morning and then delayed to Saturday.
As of Friday, the weather going into the launch is at 70% “go” because of cumulus clouds in the forecast around the Cape, the 45th Weather Squadron said. If liftoff is delayed to Sunday, weather conditions could worsen and are currently estimated at 60% “go.”
If successful, Friday’s mission will be the ninth set of satellites SpaceX has delivered and would bring the number circling the Earth to 540. The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX to operate nearly 12,000 of them.
The satellites will be accompanied by deployable visors that were tested on the last Starlink launch to prevent light from reflecting off the satellite’s antennas and make them less bright. SpaceX announced that the sunshades would be included in future Starlink missions following criticism from the astronomical community and reports from Floridians who in April mistook the satellites for UFOs.
This will be the seventh Starlink mission this year, as part of SpaceX’s aggressive schedule to set up blanketed Internet coverage for North America by the end of the year. SpaceX aims to have 1,500 Starlinks in low-Earth orbit by the end of 2020 and is targeting “near global coverage” by 2021.
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