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Weather not great for first Space Coast launch of 2020

SpaceX targeting Friday, Jan. 3 at 10:14 p.m. for liftoff

Dozens of SpaceX Starlink satellites jam packed into a Falcon 9 rocket fairing after launching from Cape Canaveral in May 2019.
Dozens of SpaceX Starlink satellites jam packed into a Falcon 9 rocket fairing after launching from Cape Canaveral in May 2019.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX is targeting Friday night to launch another round of Starlink communication satellites, marking the first launch of the new year, however, the weather does not look very favorable.

The Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off at 10:14 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Inside the rocket’s nose cone will be 60 Starlink satellites, which will bring the total of Starlink satellites in space to 180.

SpaceX is planning to eventually launch thousands of satellites to create a space-based global internet. It has two more Starlink satellite launches planned for the first part of 2020.

Satellite manufacturer OneWeb and Amazon also have plans to create space-based internets using swarms of satellites.

According to the forecasters with the Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, scattered shows and isolated storms are possible into Friday night and the probability of a launch delay due to weather is up to 60%.

The primary concerns include liftoff winds, cumulus clouds and some disturbed weather, according to the launch forecast.

If the launch delays to Saturday, the weather improves to a 10% chance of a launch delay as dryer conditions are on tap but the upper-level winds will pick up.

Liftoff winds are the primary concern for the Saturday launch window and maximum upper-level winds will be at 130 knots.

There is a chance the weather could improve before Friday. The 45th Weather Squadron will issue another launch forecast on Wednesday.

SpaceX is also targeting no earlier than Jan. 11 for a launch abort test of its astronaut-rated capsule the Crew Dragon. That test is one of the final steps before SpaceX can fly NASA astronauts on board the spacecraft.

According to the 45th Space Wing, there are 48 launches slated for the Eastern Range in 2020.

Launch details

Rocket: Falcon 9

Payload: 60 Starlink satellites

Launch window: 10:14 p.m. -10:35 p.m.

Launch forecast: 60% no-go; backup opportunity on Saturday


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