SpaceX is set to give the launch of its latest batch of Starlink broadband satellites another go after aborting a weekend attempt.
The 16th batch of Starlink satellites was scheduled to launch at 9:56pm EST on Sunday with the 45th Space Wing forecasting the weather to be 70 percent a “go”. Unfortunately, the SpaceX team was forced to call it off.
“Hold, hold, hold,” SpaceX’s launch director said in a live audio webcast just 30 minutes from launch. “We’re standing down from today’s attempt for additional mission assurance.”
The rocket carrying Starlink’s satellites marks a historic 100th launch of a Falcon 9 and will be the seventh to use reusable booster—setting a new record. SpaceX says its current Falcon 9’s should fly at least 10 times, if not more.
On Saturday, a Falcon 9 was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. That rocket carried a groundbreaking ocean-mapping satellite for NASA and the European Space Agency called the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich.
Freilich was the head of NASA’s Earth science division who sadly died of cancer in August. The two space agencies decided to name the satellite after Freilich prior to his death, a well-deserved honour rarely given to living scientists.
The $97 million 2,628-lb. (1,192 kilograms) Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will support NASA’s three-decade-long effort to document rising sea levels. A second identical satellite is set to launch in 2025.
SpaceX will attempt another launch of its Starlink satellites tonight (Monday 23rd November) at 9:34pm EST. Considering the date, it’s coincidental the launch – if it goes ahead – will be the 23rd Falcon 9 launch of the year.
Early tests of Starlink show promise. Current download speeds range from 11-62 Mbps and upload speeds between 6-18 Mbps. Ping speeds range between 20-94ms. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said that, when fully optimised, the system should deliver speeds of up to 1Gbps per user.
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