SpaceX’s tenth Starlink internet launch delayed by Florida storms [updated]

Falcon 9 B1051 and its Starlink-9 payload are onset by a Florida summer shower. (Richard Angle)

SpaceX’s tenth Starlink internet satellite launch has been delayed another two days by bad weather in Florida, a decision made just 10 minutes before liftoff.

In a unique step, SpaceX intentionally proceeded through the countdown after scrubbing the Starlink-9 launch, continuing to load propellant, chill the booster’s engines, and prepare like any normal launch up to T-1 minute. In another unusual step, SpaceX actually announced that impromptu test, explaining that it was done “for data collection.”

Regardless, SpaceX’s ninth Starlink v1.0 launch and tenth Starlink mission overall is now scheduled to lift off no earlier than (NET) 11:16 am EDT (15:16 UTC) on Friday, July 10th.

Update: SpaceX‘s Starlink-9 launch has slipped another day to NET ~11am EDT (~15:00 UTC) on Saturday, July 11th.

Falcon 9 B1051’s fifth launch has been delayed another two days by bad Florida weather. (Richard Angle)

As previously discussed on Teslarati, Falcon 9 B1051’s Starlink-9 launch is expected to kick off an extremely busy month of launches, potentially making July 2020 SpaceX’s first four-launch month.

“For Falcon 9 booster B1051, the Starlink V1 L9 mission will be its fifth launch, making it the third SpaceX rocket to fly on five separate orbital-class missions. If B1051 manages to successfully land aboard drone ship of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) some 630 km (~390 mi) off the coast of Florida, it will also become the second Falcon 9 booster to launch and land five times in a row.

Starlink-9 is just one of four separate launches SpaceX has scheduled this month, following a ~10-day delay that prevented June 2020 from becoming the company’s first four-launch month. The mission will also be the eighth Starlink launch this year, potentially leaving SpaceX 40% of the way to a 20-launch annual target roughly 52% of the way through the year.” — July 8th, 2020

Even if Starlink-9’s two-day delay precludes that possibility, it’s very likely that SpaceX will manage three launches this July after completing another three launches in June. It would be the first time SpaceX has managed two back-to-back three-launch months, representing an annual cadence of up to 36 launches if sustained for a full year. If SpaceX manages to sustain that cadence for the rest of 2020, the company could could technically complete up to 29 launches before the year is out. Even if SpaceX simply replicates the first half of 2020 in H2, the company will still beat its record of 21 launches (2018) with 22.

Storm clouds loom. (Richard Angle)
Falcon 9 B1051 completes a large oxygen vent around T-20 minutes. (Richard Angle)

Aside from Starlink-10 no earlier than (NET) late July, SpaceX’s ANASIS II South Korean military communications satellite launch is scheduled NET July 14th, while Argentina’s SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite is scheduled to lift off no earlier than July 25th.

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SpaceX’s tenth Starlink internet launch delayed by Florida storms [updated]
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