SpaceX to Make Another Launch Attempt for Starlink Mission

By Lydia Amazouz Published on June 22, 2024 17:00
Spacex To Make Another Launch Attempt For Starlink Mission

SpaceX is set to launch its Starlink 10-2 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Sunday, June 23, 2024.

This mission, which aims to deploy 22 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit, follows a recent booster swap after a rare last-second launch scrub. The scrub, which occurred just seconds before liftoff, has prompted SpaceX to take extra precautions to ensure a successful launch.

Booster Swap and Launch Readiness

Originally, the Falcon 9 rocket was set to use the B1073 first-stage booster for this mission. However, following the unexpected scrub on June 14, SpaceX decided to replace it with the B1078 booster. This decision came after issues were detected during engine ignition, leading to the last-second halt.

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SpaceX has not disclosed the exact nature of these issues but emphasized the importance of safety and reliability. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kiko Dontchev, Vice President of Launch at SpaceX, said, “Tough week dealing with production challenges and then a rare scrub at engine startup yesterday on 10-2. Unfortunately, there is a real issue so we need to go inspect the hardware in detail on this vehicle… Painful, but safety and reliability are the priority.”

The rescheduled launch is now set for 1:15 p.m. EDT (1715 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 40. The launch window remains open until 5:01 p.m. EDT, providing several opportunities for a successful liftoff. The B1078 booster has a notable track record, having completed ten previous missions, including high-profile ones like the Crew-6 and USSF-124 missions. This change aims to ensure that the mission proceeds without further technical hitches.

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Mission Objectives and Challenges

The primary objective of the Starlink 10-2 mission is to add 22 more satellites to the ever-growing Starlink constellation, which aims to enhance global internet coverage. These satellites will join thousands already in orbit, providing high-speed internet to underserved and remote areas worldwide.

According to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and expert orbital tracker from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “Before this launch, there are 6,171 Starlink satellites in orbit, with 5,235 in operational orbit. This launch will further bolster the constellation's capacity.”

Following the stage separation, the B1078 booster is expected to land on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Spacex Booster Seperation Landing

This will mark the 75th booster landing for ASOG and the 321st booster landing for SpaceX. The company continues to push the boundaries of reusability in rocketry, which plays a crucial role in reducing the costs of space travel and satellite deployment.

Weather Concerns

Weather remains a significant concern for the launch. The 45th Weather Squadron has forecasted a 50 percent chance of favorable conditions at the start of the launch window, which drops to 20 percent by the end of the window. The primary weather concerns include cumulus clouds, anvil clouds, and surface electric fields, which could potentially affect the launch.

The Squadron’s report noted, “Deep tropical moisture will remain entrenched across the Florida peninsula into early next week, resulting in scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms each day.”

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If the launch is scrubbed again due to weather conditions or other issues, the next opportunity is scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m. EDT. SpaceX has prepared for these contingencies, highlighting their commitment to mission success and safety.

SpaceX continues to demonstrate resilience and adaptability in its mission to expand the Starlink constellation, navigating technical and weather-related challenges to achieve its goals. This mission, if successful, will add another 22 satellites to the constellation, bringing the total number of Starlink satellites launched this year to 1,007. The company remains at the forefront of space innovation, pushing forward with ambitious plans despite the setbacks and challenges encountered along the way.

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An editor specializing in astronomy and space industry, passionate about uncovering the mysteries of the universe and the technological advances that propel space exploration.

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