For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER/TITUSVILLE, FL – SpaceX engineers scrubbed the next launch of their Starlink broadband internet satellite constellation less than 3 hours before the planned liftoff this afternoon, Friday, June 26, of the 5x recycled Falcon 9 – in order to conduct further pre-checks at the pad.
No new launch target date was announced – even as the skies overhead would have made for a beautiful launch day.
A postponement until after the upcoming GPS III launch on June 30 for the U.S. military is quite likely but still TBD.
The scrub announcement was initially made by Brig. General Doug Schiess, commander of the 45th Space Wing during a media conference call this afternoon regarding the next SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of the GPS III Space Vehicle 03 navigation satellite for the U.S. Space Force on Tuesday, Jun 30
SpaceX soon followed up with a public tweet at 1:59 p.m. ET ahead of the launch that had been scheduled for 4:18 p.m. EDT (2018 GMT) Friday, June 26 from seaside Launch Complex-39A (LC-39A) on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL.
“Standing down from today’s Starlink mission; team needed additional time for pre-launch checkouts, but Falcon 9 and the satellites are healthy. Will announce new target launch date once confirmed on the Range,” SpaceX tweeted at 1:59 p.m. ET
Standing down from today’s Starlink mission; team needed additional time for pre-launch checkouts, but Falcon 9 and the satellites are healthy. Will announce new target launch date once confirmed on the Range
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 26, 2020
The scrub was called just a day after the SpaceX team finally cleared the ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 for liftoff – but only after an rather rare 16 hour long wait to confirm the results of a hot fire test as having been successful for the first stage Merlin 1D engines that was carried out Wednesday afternoon at 6:30 p.m. ET – see our story.
So on the one hand given that background of a delayed approval for launch the scrub was not entirely surprising to me personally.
However on the other hand until the scrub was called all indications pointed towards an on time liftoff under beautiful and rapidly improving weather conditions – forecast as 80% GO by the Air Force weather squadron.
Enjoy our photos of the Falcon 9 on pad 39A taken by the Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.
The payload is comprised of the tenth batch of Starlink satellites.
The mission designated Starlink 9 is comprised of 57 Starlink satellites as well as a pair of Earth observation satellites for BlackSky Global for what counts as SpaceX’s second rideshare mission in 2 weeks.
Prelaunch preparations for the next SpaceX Starlink mission began last week marked by the departure of the “Of Course I Still Love You” (OCISLY) droneship under spectacular twilight sunset skies Friday, June 19.
OCISLY was towed away from her berthing spot at North Cargo Pier 6 by tug Finn Falgout at approximately 7:15 p.m. Friday evening as I watched from across the south pier.
Enjoy our Space UpClose eyewitness photos of the OCISLY droneship departure taken Friday evening at Port Canaveral.
SpaceX also dispatched their two special fairing boats GO MS TREE and GO MS CHIEF to retrieve the payload fairing halves.
Normally they feature giant nets akin to a catchers mitt and deploy them downrange to catch the two payload fairing halves. They departed minus the ships rigged with the nets – indicating the crew may only attempt to scoop the fairing out of the Atlantic Ocean post splashdown.
The two stage Falcon 9 rocket stands 229 feet (70 meters) tall.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made rocket recycling a top priority in order to slash launch costs.
Musk says that the fairings cost approximately $6 million or roughly 10% of the approximate cost of $60 million for a new Falcon 9 rocket.
Watch my commentary about the SpaceX Starlink launch at WFTV ABC 9 Orlando TV News on Jun 25
Watch my live Starlink launch and post ULA Atlas V WDR interview about Mars 2020 rover and more at the American Space Museum ‘Stay Curious’ daily weekday show on June 22, 2020
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events