SpaceX Starlink launch attempt reset for Thursday night
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is prepared to launch the company’s own Starlink Satellites from Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo by Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell/UPI |
David Craft, an Air Force 45th Weather Squadron launch weather officer, led his team through harsh weather and lightning toward a successful launch in August 2017 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., May 23 (UPI) — Encouraged by a favorable weather outlook, SpaceX will try again to launch its first 60 Starlink satellites from Florida on Thursday night.
Upper-level winds that derailed the launch a week ago are expected to be much milder, according to a forecast from the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The Starlink payload is to ride aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 into low-Earth orbit. Satellites such as Starlink have to achieve a precise path and orbit distance.
Last Thursday and Friday, upper-level winds reached as high as 80 mph, but that wasn’t necessarily the problem, Mike McAleenan, a launch weather officer for the 45th squadron, told UPI.
The problem that developed was that high-altitude winds changed suddenly within a short distance in the projected flight path. That could have resulted in knocking the rocket off course, McAleenan said.
For a spacecraft traveling at high speed, the result would have been “like hitting a wall” he said.
The Starlink launch is aimed at establishing SpaceX’s own high-speed Internet satellite network.
With a new service launching for the first time, SpaceX founder Elon Musk had tweeted earlier, “Much will likely go wrong.”
The company is experimenting with two ways to deploy the solar arrays, and one of those methods might not work, or the thrusters might not work as planned.
SpaceX is one of several big players trying to start new networks that use thousands of non-geostationary satellites to offer high-speed Internet and other types of communication around the globe. The focus is on boosting Internet access to rural areas first.
Others companies working on large new constellations include OneWeb, which launched its first six satellites in February, and Telesat.
The satellites are expected to deploy within an hour after launch, most likely over Tasmania.
It is the heaviest payload the Falcon rocket has ever carried.