July 14, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

SpaceX to launch 22 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

A Falcon 9 is ready for a Starlink mission at Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral. File photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now.

SpaceX is preparing for the launch of the Falcon 9 as central and southern Florida are hit by rounds of thunderstorms and heavy tropical downpours that are expected to last for several days. The mission marks the company's 61st Falcon 9 flight in 2024, which will match the total number of orbital launches it achieved in all of 2022.

Liftoff of the Starlink 10-2 mission is scheduled for 4:46 p.m. EDT (2046 UTC) on Thursday. The Falcon 9 rocket will carry 22 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit in the 44th dedicated Starlink mission of the year.

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage approximately one hour before launch.

Looking ahead to Thursday's launch opportunity, the 45th Weather Squadron forecast an approximately 25 percent chance of favorable weather during the new launch window.

Meteorologists expressed concerns about anvil clouds, cumulus clouds and the likelihood of violating the surface electric field rule, all of which influence the possibility of the rocket generating lightning if it were launched under suboptimal conditions.

The forecast for the 24-hour backup window features the same climate concerns, minus the surface electric field rule. Friday's window opening starts with just 40 percent favorable for launch and improves to 80 percent favorable by the end of the window.

The mission was delayed from Wednesday for reasons SpaceX did not disclose. Early Wednesday afternoon, SpaceX delayed the planned 5:20 p.m. launch until the end of the evening launch window before finally canceling the mission mid-afternoon. By this time it was obvious that preparations were behind schedule as the rocket had not raised the vertical launch configuration in time for launch.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, B1073 from the SpaceX fleet, will launch for the 16th time. It previously supported launches of ispace's HAKUTO-R lunar lander, the Bandwagon-1 rideshare mission, and 10 previous Starlink missions.

Just over eight minutes after liftoff, B1073 will land on the SpaceX spacecraft, “Just read the instructions.” This will be the 84th landing of this unmanned aircraft and the 319th booster landing to date.

The mission comes at a busy time for SpaceX and NASA. This week, the two, along with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other federal agencies, will host a series of in-person meetings inform the public and receive comments on SpaceX's proposal to launch Starship missions from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX also recently shipped the final two tower segments along with the stick arms for its second Starship tower to its Starbase facility in South Texas.

A segment of the Starship tower along with the stick elevator system arrives at the spin basin near the press site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Saturday, June 1, 2024. The components were part of the cargo bound to Starbase in south Texas to build a second launch. tower. Image: Will Robinson-Smith/Spaceflight Now

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