SpaceX has withdrawn from a Starlink launch attempt on June 26 to allow “additional time for pre-launch checkouts”, which means the company’s second US military GPS satellite mission is now pending.
The GPS III SV03 mission is scheduled to start on June 30 at 3:56 p.m. EDT (19:56 UTC) (NET) at the earliest. It will be SpaceX’s last mission this month, limiting the possibility that June 2020 will be the first four. Starting month. However, when one door closes, another opens, so four more SpaceX launches are planned for July.
In addition, SpaceX’s willingness to delay an internal Starlink launch by a significant amount confirms that the company continues to prioritize reliability and established practices over convenience. Given that any Failure of Falcon 9 would have serious consequences everything SpaceX launches, including internal Starlink missions and commercial customer launches, should come as no surprise. Nevertheless, the Starlink missions from SpaceX represent a perfect storm of low costs and high demands on the starting frequency, which could create incentives for cutting corners in the short term.
At the same time, it is not clear whether the delay in Starlink V1 L9 was SpaceX’s decision or something that was decided (or heavily influenced) by the U.S. military. Shortly after SpaceX announced the delay, new approval applications indicated June 28 was the new target, but they were quickly canceled. The U.S. military may have confirmed its desire to be the immediate priority of SpaceX before launching an extremely expensive GPS III satellite.
It is completely speculative, but not implausible. If the U.S. military actually intervened to request the GPS III SV03 and Starlink-9 order of starts to be exchanged, it could technically benefit from SpaceX’s more or less full attention, but it would also lose the invaluable data of another launch .
Regardless, GPS III SV03 is now the next launch of SpaceX. It is crucial that the mission is the company’s first operational start and The landing for the U.S. Air / Space Force after the military base gave SpaceX permission to land the Booster B1060. The launch of GPS III will be the second of SpaceX after the successful (but dispensable) launch of GPS III SV01 and Falcon 9 Booster B1054 in December 2018. This time, the life of the brand new Falcon 9 Block 5 booster will not necessarily be shortened after a single launch, as long as the rocket can safely land on the drone ship Just Read The Instructions (JRTI).
The Starlink-9 delay means that SpaceX can launch a maximum of three missions in June 2020, reducing the chance that four Falcon 9 launches will take place for the first time this month. In July, however, four SpaceX launches are technically planned: Starlink-9 (beginning of July), ANASIS-II (middle of July), SAOCOM 1B (end of July) and Starlink-10 (end of July). Again with two Planned launches late in the month, the likelihood of one or more missions slipping into August is much higher, but the possibility remains.
Stay tuned for updates as SpaceX prepares for the next 2-5 rocket launches.
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