HAWTHORNE — Hawthorne-based SpaceX will try again Saturday to launch its twice-delayed mission to deploy nearly 60 satellites into orbit.
The launch of the Starlink satellites was originally scheduled for June 26 from Cape Canaveral in Florida but was scrubbed at the last minute to allow for more pre-flight equipment checks. SpaceX tried again Wednesday morning, but that launch had to be canceled due to bad weather.
The company announced Thursday that the launch has now been rescheduled for 7:54 a.m. California time Saturday.
When it eventually lifts off, the Falcon 9 rocket will be carrying 57 Starlink internet satellites as part of SpaceX’s planned array to provide worldwide low-cost internet access, particularly in under-served areas. It will be the 10th launch to date of Starlink satellites.
The latest batch of satellites will increase the Starlink array to nearly 600 satellites in orbit. It’s unclear exactly how many satellites will ultimately be included in the constellation. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said previously that the service could begin operating when it reaches 1,000 satellites, and the company has already begun soliciting people to be “beta” testers of the service. But the more satellites that are deployed will mean more comprehensive internet coverage.
In addition to the 57 Starlink satellites, the SpaceX rocket will also be carrying a pair of satellites for Spaceflight Industries on behalf of Earth-observation company BlackSky.
BlackSky is in the process of building its satellite array, with four already in orbit. The launch will increase the array to six, and the company has an initial goal of launching 16 by early next year. The array could ultimately have as many as 60 satellites, but timing on that expansion hasn’t been determined.
When the launch occurs, SpaceX will again attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket by landing it on the company’s “Of Course I Still Love You” barge in the Atlantic Ocean. The recovery process is an effort to slash the costs of launches by allowing rockets to be reused.
The first stage of the rocket being used for the Starlink mission was used in four previous SpaceX launches, including two Starlink satellite missions.
Source: Orange County Register