SpaceX plans to launch two stations this weekend in Florida – Spaceflight Now

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on Platform 39A on Saturday morning. Credit: Spaceflight Now

This year’s 39th and 40th launches are scheduled from Florida’s space coast Saturday night and Sunday night, successive missions to deploy more SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites, as well as ride-sharing payload for AST Space Mobile’s planned space-cellular broadband network. the list.

Two Falcon 9 rockets will do the lift. The first launch is scheduled for 9:10 p.m. EDT Saturday (0110 GMT Sunday) from Platform 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. A few miles south of Kennedy, another Falcon 9 rocket is being prepared for liftoff from Platform 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 10:53 p.m. EDT (0253 GMT Monday).

It will add both missions to SpaceX’s portfolio of Starlink Internet satellites. Thirty-four Starlink satellites have been installed atop the Falcon 9 rocket awaiting launch Saturday night, and an additional 54 satellites will be launched Sunday night.

The new satellites will bring the size of the Starlink fleet to more than 3,000 spacecraft currently in orbit. SpaceX has so far launched 3,259 Starlink satellites, including test bases and prototypes that are no longer in orbit, and the next two Starlink missions will bring that number to 3,347 spacecraft.

Saturday’s launch will set a new record for rocket reuse, with the first stage of the boosted Falcon 9 taking off on its 14th flight. The booster, designated B1058 in SpaceX inventory, was first launched on May 30, 2020, with the historic launch of the astronaut’s first SpaceX mission aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The booster craft landed on an unmanned ship in the Atlantic Ocean after a crew launch in 2020. It has flown 12 times since then, taking a South Korean military satellite into space and launching a resupply mission to the International Space Station, two small missions to share flights. Satellites. , and eight Starlink missions.

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SpaceX has sent two rocket landing pads from Port Canaveral to the Atlantic Ocean. Reinforcements flying Saturday and Sunday will target landings on both drone ships stationed a few hundred miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX rolled out a Falcon 9 to platform 39A on Friday amid ongoing construction to equip its coastal launch complex as a future base for SpaceX’s massive reusable Super Heavy rocket and Starship rocket. Ground crews lifted the 229-foot (70 m) Falcon 9 vertically early Saturday on platform 39A, less than 12 hours before another Falcon 9 lifted upright on platform 40.

Two Falcon 9 rockets stand vertically on September 10 at Launch Complex 39A and Space Launch Complex 40. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

Joining the 34 Starlink satellites for Saturday night’s mission, BlueWalker 3 is a prototype for a planned fleet of spacecraft built and owned by Texas-based AST SpaceMobile. The AST SpaceMobile test satellite will launch an array of antennas into low Earth orbit covering an area of ​​693 square feet (about 64 square metres). AST SpaceMobile aims to deploy an additional spacecraft in 2023 to begin building an operational network designed to connect consumer cell phones via satellite.

Abel Avelan, Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile, said in a statement. This revolutionary technology supports our mission to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by the more than 5 billion mobile subscribers today moving in and out of coverage, and deliver cellular broadband to the nearly half of the world’s population that remains unconnected. We want to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots.

The BlueWalker3 rides in the upper position inside the Falcon 9’s payload cover. The upper stage of the Falcon 9 will burn two engines before deploying the approximately 3,300-pound (1.5 metric tons) BlueWalker 3 satellite to an altitude of approximately 318 miles (513 kilometers). BlueWalker 3 is scheduled to disconnect about 50 minutes after takeoff.

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Two more engines in the upper stage of the Falcon 9 will burn the rocket into a slightly lower orbit to deploy 34 Starlink satellites in about T+ plus 2 hours and 4 minutes. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said Saturday night’s launch will be “one of our most complex missions.”

The launch of Falcon 9 on Sunday is a dedicated Starlink network ride. It will put 54 Starlink satellites into orbit about 15 minutes after launch.

The sequential missions this weekend will be the launch of this year’s SpaceX 41 and 42.

Forecasters from the US Space Force’s 45th Meteorological Squadron expect there to be a 60% chance of favorable weather for Saturday night’s launch.

“The primary climate concerns for Saturday’s bid are cumulus cloud bases, anvil cloud bases, as well as the surface electric field base associated with convection and evening storm interactions,” forecasters wrote in Friday’s forecast.

There is an 80% chance of good weather for the launch Sunday night.

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