Launch Date Moved Forward Ahead of StarLink's 7th Orbital Mission
Despite being in the midst of a global pandemic, the Spaceflight Industry does in fact have a brand new Orbital Rocket Launch to look forward to. And, it's coming to us sooner than was originally expected.
Late last week, on Friday, a thunderous noise rumbled over Merritt Island. The roar was that of SpaceX’s B1051 booster completing a static fire test at Launch Complex-39A at Kennedy Space Center, in preparation for the launch of the sixth operational batch of the V1.01 StarLink Satellites.
After that static fire test on April 17th, it was officially announced that Space X would be launching the additional 60 Satellites on April 23rd, 2020 at 3:16 p.m. from LC-39A. However, speculation began to grow online regarding the official Launch NET date, when on Sunday, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's 45th Space Wing posted a Launch Mission Execution Weather Forecast showing 90% GO conditions for lift-off....on Wednesday April 22nd. However there was no official confirmation from claimed sources, or Space X themselves.
Then again, on Monday, the morning of April 20th, another report issued by the 45th Space Wing confirmed the same. The movement of the Launch NET date forward seemed all but confirmed, an industry rarity, and an exception which is not easily made due to the 'No Earlier Than' nature of Launch planning. Weather Conditions dropping to dangerous and concerning levels on April 23rd, seemed to be the cause for the odd change. Then, later on April 20th, Space X tweeted an official confirmation of both the new date, and the reason for the move forward for StarLink's latest flight.
This will be the first Space X launch since March 18th’s engine failure and the fourth launch for this particular booster, previously supporting DM-1, RADARSAT and Starlink-3. If everything goes according to plan, it is intended to land on the Of Course I Still Love You Autonomous Drone Ship roughly 400 miles downrange.
However, that’s not the only part that is being reused; the fairings were also previously flown on Amos-17 in August 2019. One of which was caught by Ms. Tree on her net while the other one was picked out of the ocean to be refurbished.
Once this launch occurs, SpaceX will increase their Starlink Constellation to 422 satellites, making the largest satellite constellation ever created even larger. The reason for such large numbers is because Starlink is intended to provide worldwide coverage with high speed internet by having many small satellites orbiting very close to the Earth (increasing data transfer speed but also limiting range per satellite) that will be communicating with each other and also acting as relays. This will require 12,000 satellites to be fully operational in the global scale, nearly tripling the amount of Satellites ever launched into space and giving anyone in the planet, no matter how secluded, high speed internet.
Note: Due to COVID-19, on-site launch viewing is not suggested/permitted. Space X will Live-stream the mission from their YouTube channel, or visit https://www.spacex.com/ for more info.
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