SpaceX delays Starlink launch for additional rocket booster inspections

Company has not announced new launch date

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Jan. 20, 2021. (Image: SpaceX)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Jan. 20, 2021. (Image: SpaceX) (WKMG 2020)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – After already two delays this week, SpaceX has scrubbed what would have been its second Starlink satellite launch in less than a week.

The delay was announced Friday afternoon with the company saying in a tweet that it needed “additional inspections before flying one of our fleet-leading boosters.” SpaceX is now targeting the end of next week, although an exact date and time hasn’t been given.

The company launches, lands and re-flies its rocket boosters. The booster for the launch will likely have flown several times prior.

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SpaceX was initially targeting Thursday, then moved the launch back to Friday. It was delayed for a second time to Sunday at 4:31 a.m. before it was ultimately called off.

When the launch finally does happen, a Falcon 9 rocket will liftoff with SpaceX’s 19th batch of 60 Starlink satellites, part of its global internet constellation. It will mark the fifth SpaceX liftoff since Jan. 1 and it will take place at Kennedy Space Center launchpad 39A.

Already the company sent up another batch of about 60 satellites early Thursday morning after 1 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Kate Tice, a SpaceX senior engineer, said during Thursday’s launch livestream the company continues to roll out coverage to more areas as it launches more satellites.

“The team will continue to push toward near global coverage of the populated world in 2021,” Tice said.

SpaceX launched its “Better Than Nothing Beta” program last year for the Starlink network that is available in parts of the U.S. and Canada. According to the website, the company is expecting latency to improve from around 20 to 40 milliseconds to 16 to 19 milliseconds by this summer.

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