SpaceX proceeding toward eighth launch of Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral
After successfully taking astronauts to orbit over the weekend, SpaceX is still targeting Wednesday night for the launch of another batch of Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
If schedules hold, a Falcon 9 rocket will boost 60 of the flat-packed satellites to low-Earth orbit from Launch Complex 40 at 9:25 p.m. The window to launch closes about 30 minutes later.
Anticipated weather conditions are trending favorably for the most part, with the Space Force anticipating 70% "go" conditions during the window.
"Given the time of day, the atmosphere is expected to be fairly stable," the 45th Weather Squadron said Tuesday. "The main concerns will be the thick cloud layer rule due to upper level clouds streaming in from the west, and the cumulus cloud rule due to approaching isolated showers."
In the event of a delay – technical or otherwise – to Thursday, conditions are expected to take a dive to 40% "go" due to increased thunderstorm chances.
Wednesday's flight will mark SpaceX's eighth Starlink mission, boosting the internet-beaming constellation's size to 480 satellites in low-Earth orbit. After liftoff, the satellites will extend their solar arrays and spend a few weeks raising orbits to about 340 miles above Earth.
The constellation is part of SpaceX's effort to deliver high-speed internet connectivity to underserved and remote users around the world. If schedules hold, the company hopes to begin service in North America later this year.
On the International Space Station, meanwhile, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have settled into their new home after a Crew Dragon capsule boosted them to orbit on Saturday. It marked the first time NASA astronauts launched from American soil in nearly a decade.
"The thing that really stood out to both of us – and we mentioned it as soon as we docked – is that we didn't even feel the docking," mission commander Hurley said during a news conference Monday. "It was just so smooth, and then we were docked. In shuttle, you felt a little bit of a jolt."
"That really, really surprised me," he said.
Behnken and Hurley are expected to return to Earth in the same capsule sometime this summer.
Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
Mission: 60 Starlink satellites
Launch Time: 9:25 p.m.
Launch Complex: 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Landing: Drone ship
Follow live updates and video at floridatoday.com/space starting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Contact Emre Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-242-3715.
This story originally published to floridatoday.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.