UPDATE: SpaceX has just scrapped its second launch attempt. The decision came a couple of hours before the opening of the launch window on Thursday night. In a tweet, the company said it was “standing down to update satellite software and triple-check everything again,” adding, “Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success, next launch opportunity in about a week.”
We’ll be sure to update the details below just as soon as we know the date of the next launch window.
ORIGINAL POST: He can turn electric cars into the coolest thing ever, make a business called the Boring Company interesting, and survive a media onslaught after smoking weed on a podcast with Joe Rogan. But one thing Elon Musk can’t do (yet) is control the weather. For that reason, a SpaceX launch originally scheduled for on Wednesday, May 16, was called off with just minutes to spare after windy weather endangered the launch’s chances of success.
Don’t worry, though, because it wasn’t canceled altogether, but simply pushed back to today. And provided you tune in on time, you’ll be able to watch it take place!
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch — the sixth this year — is significant because it will mark the first major deployment for SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. Two previous Starlink satellites have been launched, but both of these were only for test purposes. Thursday’s launch will be significantly larger, with 60 Starlink satellites packed into the nose of the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry them. Musk has said that this is the heaviest ever payload for SpaceX, weighing 18.5 tons.
“Approximately one hour and two minutes after liftoff, the Starlink satellites will begin deployment at an altitude of 440km,” SpaceX notes on its website. “They will then use onboard propulsion to reach an operational altitude of 550km.”
The eventual goal of the ambitious Starlink project is to launch thousands of satellites into low-Earth orbit in order to establish a broadband network for providing low-cost, high-speed global internet coverage. Getting the remaining satellites into orbit will take SpaceX another eight years — and a total cost of around $10 billion. To achieve “minor” internet coverage will reportedly require an additional six similar launches, each carrying 60 satellites each. Twelve more launches will result in “moderate” coverage. Musk has said that his goal is to launch at least 1,000 satellites per year. Launches such as today’s will deliver around “1 terabit of bandwidth to the Earth.”
As always with these eagerly anticipated SpaceX launches, there is a chance that things won’t go quite as planned. As it stands now, the launch window opens at 7:30 p.m. PT in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and runs for 90 minutes. If you want to watch, you can do so using the handy SpaceX livestream which is available to tune into here. It is due to go live roughly 15 minutes before the launch takes place.