SpaceX pushes Starlink launch back by day

Conditions downrange in Atlantic Ocean could be problematic

SpaceX Starlink launch.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.UPDATE: SpaceX is now targeting the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch for 7:04 p.m. Tuesday.

SpaceX announced on Monday the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center will be delayed by a day.

Space Force forecasters said earlier that weather conditions downrange in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday could be problematic, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

SpaceX said it was expecting more favorable weather conditions for liftoff and booster recovery on Tuesday.

When it came to the area around pad 39A for the 7:26 p.m. liftoff time with Starlink internet satellites on Monday, conditions were 70% “go” with low-level winds cited as the main concern. But not factored into the “percent go” are “moderate risk” chances for strong upper-level winds after liftoff and at-sea conditions that could disrupt SpaceX’s chances at recovering the booster on a drone ship.

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“Clouds will diminish through the day Monday at the spaceport, leaving gusty winds as the primary launch weather threat,” Space Launch Delta 45 forecasters said Sunday.

Teams would have had a two-hour window to fly.

Due to the delay to a similar timeframe Tuesday, conditions improve to greater than 90% “go.”

“On Tuesday, high pressure will settle overhead making for a chilly morning, but excellent launch weather conditions,” forecasters said.

If successful, SpaceX will have completed its 35th launch to date for Starlink, a space-based internet service provider quickly approaching 2,000 satellites in size. SpaceX eventually hopes to have tens of thousands flying in low-Earth orbit, which will have to constantly be replaced as hardware is upgraded and the upper atmosphere drags on the satellites, slowly pulling them down.

Tuesday’s launch will mark the third in as many weeks into the new year. Four more are tentatively scheduled through the end of the month, though keeping up with that rapid of a cadence will require sticking to a tight schedule -- a task historically interrupted by weather, technical issues, or a mix of both.

Spectators should note that this mission includes a southern trajectory, so Falcon 9 will not launch from pad 39A and fly along its more common northeastern flightpath.

Launch Tuesday, Jan. 18

  • Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
  • Mission: 35th batch of Starlink internet satellites
  • Launch Time: 7:04 p.m. ET
  • Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
  • Trajectory: South
  • Landing: Drone ship
  • Weather: 90% “go”