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SpaceX queues up Space Coast retry of Starlink mission with replacement booster

Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Science & Technology News

SpaceX is back at the launch pad Sunday with an updated rocket to finish off a Starlink mission it tried to send up earlier this month.

A Falcon 9 on the Starlink 10-2 mission is targeting liftoff at 1:15 p.m. Eastern during a launch window that runs until 5:03 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40. Its payload is 22 more Starlink satellites for the company’s growing internet constellation that now numbers more than 6,100 satellites in orbit.

The launch attempt comes nine days since SpaceX last attempted to knock out the mission on June 14. That attempt had a rare scrub as the countdown clock reached 0 and the rocket was ultimately brought back from the pad to allow for last week’s ASTRA 1P satellite launch to go up instead.

But now the rocket is back with a new first-stage booster, which will be attempting its 11th flight with a recovery landing planned on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas downrange in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX did not reveal what was wrong with the original booster that was trying to fly for the 16th time.

Space Launch Delta 45’s weather squadron’s forecast states weather chances are only at 50% for good conditions at the opening of the launch window, and those decrease to 20% by the end of the window with tropical moisture across Florida’s peninsula that is expected to continue into the early part of the week. That means similar weather chances for a backup window that opens Monday at 1 p.m. with a 60% chance for good conditions at its opening falling to 20% by the end of the four-hour window.

 

If it flies, it would be the 46th launch from the Space Coast for the year, with all but three coming from SpaceX.

The weather pattern could be bad news for a planned Tuesday launch of SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy launch of the year from neighboring Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39-A. That powerhouse rocket is flying the GOES-U weather satellite for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with a planned liftoff at 5:16 p.m. Eastern at the opening of a two-hour window.

The forecast for that attempt says there will only be a 30% for good launch conditions on both Tuesday and the backup window on Wednesday.

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