After “Scrubtember” and then “Scrubtober” played havoc with the SpaceX launch schedule, Elon Musk’s rocket company is hustling to get more of its Starlink broadband satellites into orbit. The company’s 14th batch of orbiting routers was sent aloft from Cape Canaveral in Florida Sunday morning, and another set of 60 or so satellites is scheduled to launch from Florida on Wednesday, according to airspace closures.
Sunday’s launch came courtesy of a tower of flames out the end of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage that was making the sixth flight of its career. It successfully landed on a droneship in the Atlantic to possibly fly another day. Both halves of the rocket’s nose cone were also caught by ships equipped with huge nets, although one seemed to at least partially break through the net.
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SpaceX and competitor United Launch Alliance saw several launch attempts scrubbed by weather and technical problems between late August and early October, leading to the rise of the hashtags #scrubtember and #scrubtober. Since then SpaceX has now managed to get two Starlink missions off the ground, including this one on Sunday.
A SpaceX mission to launch a new military GPS satellite and a ULA launch of a US spy satellite remain grounded while technical problems continue to be worked out.
SpaceX needs to get thousands of its internet-beaming birds into low-Earth orbit over the next few years to meet the requirements of its FCC authorization. So far, over 700 satellites have been launched and more than 60 of the oldest models have been or will soon be deorbited. All this means that SpaceX has a way to go to reach its ultimate ambition of creating a mega-constellation with tens of thousands of satellites.
SpaceflightNow.com reports that Wednesday’s mission is set to lift off at 5:25 a.m. PT (8:25 a.m. in Florida). As soon as the live video feed becomes available, we’ll add it here.