CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – It was a good day for a rocket launch on the Space Coast as SpaceX launched another round of Starlink internet satellites Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 blasted off at 3:30 p.m. into a clear sky, carrying 60 satellites packed into the rocket’s nose cone into low-Earth orbit.
Wednesday’s mission will mark the seventh flight for the constellation.
After separation, the rocket booster returned to Earth for a sea landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean. The landing marked the fourth mission and landing for the rocket first-stage.
SpaceX will also attempt to catch the rocket’s nose cone, or fairings, using boats with giant nets in the Atlantic Ocean. The company hasn’t disclosed if that was successful as of Wednesday afternoon.
About 15 minutes after liftoff the 60 satellites were successfully deployed into low-Earth orbit.
SpaceX is next preparing to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft for the first time with a human crew, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. NASA and SpaceX revealed last week they are targeting May 27 for the first human spaceflight from American soil since 2011.
Weather conditions around Kennedy Space Center are likely to be highly conducive for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A.
The launch is now scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday after being moved up from 3:37 p.m.
[LIVE: WATCH SPACEX STARLINK LAUNCH LIVE IN VIDEO PLAYER BELOW]
“Dry conditions with light east winds are expected during the launch window on Wednesday,” the 45th Weather Squadron said. “The main concern during the window will be for a few cumulus clouds as the east coast sea breeze moves inland early in the afternoon.”
New T-0 of 3:30 p.m. EDT, 19:30 UTC, for today’s launch of Starlink— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 22, 2020
According to News 6 partner Florida Today, if all goes according to plan, Falcon 9′s second stage will help deliver 60 Starlink internet-beaming satellites to low-Earth orbit, where they’ll slowly start to raise their orbits using onboard propulsion. Wednesday’s mission will mark the seventh flight for the constellation.
The mission had been targeting Thursday, but was moved earlier to Wednesday due to a more favorable weather forecast, SpaceX officials said in a tweet.
As usual with Starlink launches, the Space Coast won't host a first stage landing – instead, the booster will descend toward the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship in the Atlantic, then return to Port Canaveral a couple days later.
This will mark the fourth flight for this booster, which previously launched Crew Dragon on its first demo to the International Space Station in March 2019; a batch of three satellites from California in June 2019; and the fourth Starlink mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in January.