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Next SpaceX Starlink launch from Kennedy Space Center delayed

No new date announced

Thursday Starlink-7 launch planned
Thursday Starlink-7 launch planned

SpaceX will not launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center as planned this week, pushing the Space Coast’s next mission slated to fly with 60 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

Teams were targeting Thursday afternoon for liftoff from pad 39A, but had to delay the mission due to unspecified reasons. SpaceX has not announced a new date, though the push is expected to run at least a few days.

Either way, the mission's liftoff time should fall in the afternoon.

This will mark the seventh flight for SpaceX's Starlink internet constellation, which will boost the network's size to more than 400 in Earth orbit. The company hopes to begin offering services to U.S.-based customers sometime late this year.

[Liftoff: SpaceX launches rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellites | How SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Orbit and ULA are helping in the fight against coronavirus]

To access the network, users will need a pizza box-sized terminal, much in the same way that customers today need a modem to access land-based internet.

But the company itself needs more serious hardware to manage the constellation, which is why last week it applied for permission to begin building a ground station at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Located near its fairing processing facility, the 50-foot-by-50-foot patch of land will host a satellite dish and other equipment, according to documents filed with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Further out on the schedule, meanwhile, the range is expected to see more activity despite coronavirus-related impacts:

• SpaceX is targeting May for yet another Starlink launch, this time from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 40. It had also been targeting late in the month for a Global Positioning System satellite, but the Space Force last week said that mission has been pushed to June.

• United Launch Alliance is tentatively targeting late May for the launch of a secretive X-37B spaceplane managed by the Space Force. An Atlas V rocket will boost the 29-foot spacecraft from Launch Complex 41.

• Finally, NASA and SpaceX are still looking at the second half of May to launch astronauts from KSC on the first crewed flight from U.S. soil since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. Due to the pandemic, however, this mission is highly prone to delays.