Storms rolled through the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday afternoon – as is often the case in the summer – but SpaceX continued to push for the launch of its 10th batch of Starlink satellites.
The company will attempt to launch 57 Starlink satellites along with two Earth observation satellites for BlackSky Global on Wednesday (15:59 UTC) at 11:59 ET from Launch Complex-39A at the Kennedy Space Center on a Falcon 9 rocket. The weather looks decent, with a 60 percent chance of favorable conditions when taking off.
SpaceX first attempted to launch this mission on June 26, but resigned a few hours before the scheduled launch, noting the need for additional time to perform pre-launch checkouts.
The launch of these satellites will bring the Starlink constellation from SpaceX to almost 600 spacecraft in near-Earth orbit. And these are not small CubeSats – each of the Starlink satellites weighs 260 kg and has its own on-board propulsion system.
As SpaceX plans to launch thousands more of these satellites as it builds a constellation of near-Earth orbit beacons to provide a global Internet service from space, astronomers understandably have raised concerns. They care about the night sky for backyard astronomers as well as highly developed observatories in Chile, Mauna Kea and elsewhere.
SpaceX tried to solve the problem by first darkening the satellites to make them less reflective. Now the company is taking a bigger step and is developing a radio-transparent foam that jumps out of the satellites and prevents reflections.
“This visor lies flat on the chassis during launch and is used during Falcon 9’s satellite separation,” the company said. “The visor prevents light from being reflected by the diffuse antennas by preventing the light from reaching the antennas as a whole. This approach not only prevents the thermal effects of the surface darkening of the antennas, but should also have a greater impact on the brightness reduction. “
All 57 Starlink satellites on board the Falcon 9 rocket will carry these “sight” saddles for the first time.
This is the third time that SpaceX has launched Falcon 9 five times. This booster started its career with the Demo-1 mission in March 2019 and has flown three more missions since then. The company will try to regain this booster on the Of course I still love you Drone ship. The following webcast should start about 15 minutes before the start.
Listing picture by Trevor Mahlmann