CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The weather forecast looks mostly favorable for the Wednesday launch of 60 SpaceX communications satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, according to officials.
Teams are expected to face 70% "go" conditions for the 10:30 p.m. Falcon 9 liftoff from Launch Complex 40. The possibility of clouds and showers were noted as the main concerns by the Air Force's Space Coast-based 45th Weather Squadron, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
After liftoff, the rocket's first stage will target a landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Tightly packed into the rocket's school bus-sized fairing will be 60 Starlink satellites, which will help kick off the company's entrance into the telecommunications business. Eventually, SpaceX hopes to operate more than 11,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit to beam internet connectivity back down to the ground.
"First 60 SpaceX Starlink satellites loaded into Falcon fairing," CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter Saturday evening. "Tight fit."
If successful, not only will the Starlink constellation bypass complicated ground-based infrastructure and deliver internet to remote areas of the world, but it could become a cash cow that helps fund Musk's dream to colonize Mars, according to spaceflight experts. The company confirmed via federal documents that it would directly target private and business users alike.
This launch comes after a California mission last year boosted two prototype Starlink satellites to orbit, known as Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b. This first batch of 60 will also be used for testing, but will do more to pave the way for the constellation that the company hopes will be sufficiently deployed by 2024.