Updated at 10:30 PM EST: SpaceX has adjusted the T-0 liftoff time.
SpaceX is preparing the Falcon 9 first stage booster for a record-breaking 19th launch just after midnight, as it continues to expand its Starlink space constellation. Liftoff from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral is currently scheduled for 12:33 a.m. EDT (0533 UTC).
The B1058 first stage is already the fleet leader with 18 missions, and is poised to reinforce that position with the Starlink 6-32 mission, which will deliver 23 satellites to orbit. The booster first flew in May 2020 carrying astronauts for the first time on the Demo-2 Crew Dragon mission. It still bears the faded NASA “worm” logo from that mission.
Liftoff time was delayed just over an hour from the window opening at 11 PM EDT (0400 UTC) as the rocket was not lifted upright at the launch pad until approximately 7:35 PM EDT (0035 UTC) ). SpaceX said it had backup launch opportunities available until 3 a.m. EDT (0800 UTC) Saturday morning.
There is a 60-70 percent chance of acceptable launch weather with better conditions when the window is open, the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station said Thursday. The primary concerns were violations of the thick cloud layer and cumulus cloud bases.
The Falcon 9 first stage will land on the “just read the instructions” drone after about eight and a half minutes of flight. The combustion of the rocket's second stage will place 23 second-generation Starlink satellites into orbit, with deployment occurring about an hour and five minutes after launch.
SpaceX revealed this week that its Starlink internet service now has 2.3 million users in 70 countries. Since 2019, it has launched 5,604 satellites According to statistics It was compiled by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which maintains a database of spaceflights. As of December 20, there are still 5,226 satellites in orbit, and 5,191 satellites appear to be operating normally.
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