SpaceX was racing against time to prepare its Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday evening, as launch preparations fell behind schedule. The launch with a constellation of 23 Starlink satellites is currently scheduled for 2:27 a.m. EDT (0727 UTC) on Wednesday morning.
The Starlink 6-29 mission was originally scheduled for 11:01 PM EDT (0401 UTC) Tuesday night, but SpaceX postponed the launch to 1:47 AM EDT (0647 UTC) and then 2:27 AM EDT (0727 UTC). There are two more launches on Wednesday morning, the last of which will come at 2:59 a.m. EST (0759 UTC).
A Falcon 9 rocket was lifted upright at Space Launch Complex 40 shortly before 10 p.m. EDT (0300 UTC), much later than expected. The previous mission launched from Pad 40 just four days ago, so if the current launch time holds, this will be the seventh-fastest launch facility turnaround attempt.
Weather conditions on Monday will be 90 percent favorable at the time of first opportunity with chances dropping slightly to 75 percent at the end of the launch window, U.S. Space Force meteorologists with the 45th Weather Squadron said.
After liftoff from Cape Canaveral, the Falcon 9 rocket will launch on a southeast trajectory, aiming for an orbit inclined at a 43-degree angle to the equator. After burning its nine Merlin 1D engines for about two and a half minutes, the first stage will separate from the second stage and continue its descent to land on the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” in the Atlantic Ocean, about 424 miles (682 km) away. ) from the launch site.
Meanwhile, at the top, the second stage’s single Merlin vacuum engine will fire for about six minutes to reach parking orbit. After cruising for approximately 45 minutes, the second stage engine will be reignited for 2 seconds to optimize the orbit. The 23 V2 Mini Starlink satellites will be deployed approximately one hour and five minutes after launch.
This will be SpaceX’s 87th orbital launch of the year and the 276th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket to date.
Spaceflight Now’s live coverage of the launch will begin about an hour before liftoff. You can also watch views of the Cape’s launch pads 24/7 on our live launch pad stream.
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