A date has been confirmed for SpaceX’s next Starlink launch after a series of delay to its last attempt, placing the mission just two days before another crucial Falcon 9 launch and less than 48 hours after ULA’s third scheduled NROL-44 launch attempt.
According to launch photographer Ben Cooper and Spaceflight Now, SpaceX has rescheduled Starlink-12 to launch no earlier than (NET) 10:43 am EDT (UTC-4) on September 27th. The launch date was postponed due to the hurricanes until ocean conditions in the booster recovery zone improved. However, the September 30th launch target for SpaceX’s third US military GPS III mission (SV04) remains in place. As expected, Lockheed Martin, a popular satellite manufacturer, revealed that SpaceX and the US military have shifted the launch forward by 24 hours, with the GPS III SV04 now scheduled to lift off as early as 9:55 pm EDT (UTC-4) on September 29th.
SpaceX is scheduled to fly a new Falcon 9 booster on a GPS III mission, the third time this is happening in history. Sources have it that the Falcon 9 booster B1062 arrived in Cape Canaveral on September 11th. This marks the official end of a month or two of acceptance testing, which included a full static fire at SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas facilities.
Booster B1062 will be attempting to land after sending GPS III SV04 on its way to orbit. This follows in the footsteps of Falcon 9 B1060’s flawless June 30th GPS III SV03 launch. This will also be the second orbital-class booster to land after an operational US military launch, paving the way towards the military’s first operational launch on a flight-proven rocket.
SpaceX called off the launch and landing attempt as earlier scheduled due to the inability to best fast ocean currents in the remnants of Hurricane Sally, with forecasts predicting even worse conditions, especially as Hurricane Teddy was said to be only 36 hours away. The decision turned out to be a smart one, with NOAA’s Atlantic Ocean forecasting being fairly accurate. Everything looks set as calm seas and winds are expected to arrive on September 24th and last for several days.
Starlink-12 will be another milestone for SpaceX as the 12th operational v1.0 satellite launch and 13th mission overall. This potentially leaves the company just two missions away from the kicking off of the first public beta tests of Starlink internet. Two more Starlink missions are also purportedly scheduled to launch in October.
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