CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - ***UPDATE: 8:35 p.m. 5/16/19***
SpaceX scrubbed the second launch attempt of the week Thursday evening. The Falcon 9 will send the first round of 60 Starlink internet satellites into low-Earth orbit.
The company said the launch has been scrubbed to update satellite software and triple-check everything. An exact launch time has not been announced. SpaceX said it could launch next week.
Launch Update ⚠️ SpaceX is standing down for tonight’s launch attempt. New launch date and time is to be determined. #Starlink
📸: @SpaceX pic.twitter.com/5gsy5qlUDt — Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (@ExploreSpaceKSC) May 17, 2019
Standing down to update satellite software and triple-check everything again. Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success, next launch opportunity in about a week. — SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 17, 2019
After a weather-related scrub, SpaceX will try again to launch the first round of satellites that CEO Elon Musk said will eventually provide affordable high-speed internet around the world.
Wednesday's Falcon 9 launch was scrubbed due to excess upper level winds. The new launch window from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station opens at 10:30 p.m. Thursday and runs to 12 a.m.
[ClickOrlando.com and News 6 will live stream the launch, check back for updates]
Inside the Falcon 9 rocket's nosecone, or fairing, are 60 Starlink satellites. This is the heaviest payload ever for a SpaceX rocket, weighing almost 19 tons, Musk said.
Weather should not be an issue Thursday night. Air Force weather officials are predicting an 90 percent chance of favorable launch weather. The primary weather concern is cloud cover.
SpaceX will also attempt to recover the rocket's flight-proven first stage booster.
This will be the third launch with the booster, according to SpaceX. The rocket hardware previously launched Telstar 18 VANTAGE in September 2018, and again, in January with 10 Iridium NEXT satellites.
Falcon 9's booster will touch down on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean about eight minutes after liftoff.
Musk said in a call with reporters Wednesday that the satellites will begin deploying about one hour after launch. It may look a little different than other missions because there is no spring-based deployment mechanism.
As the 60 satellites slowly deploy, it will look like "spreading a deck of cards on a table," Musk said. There is expected to be some contact between the spacecraft but they are designed to handle it, he said.
Musk said the first round of Starlink satellites will be a learning process for SpaceX. Deploying dozens of spacecraft is risky for the satellites, for obvious reasons.
Within two to three hours after deployment SpaceX will know if the satellites survived.
"I do believe we will succeed, but it is far from a sure thing," Musk said Wednesday.
[Click here to read about the importance of this launch for SpaceX and internet users.]
This launch is just the beginning for Starlink. Musk said in a call with reporters Wednesday he can see 1,000 to 2,000 satellites launching a year and eventually, SpaceX satellites would total more than all other spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX's request to fly its network of Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit in two constellations totaling nearly 12,000 spacecraft.
If successful, Musk said operating a space-based internet could provide the funding needed for SpaceX's interplanetary spaceship called Starship and eventually Mars colonization.
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