SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of Starlink satellites pushed by days in second scrub this week

SpaceX's tweeted that it wants to 'update satellite software and triple-check everything again' before launch.

For the second time this week, SpaceX has decided to scrub its planned launch of dozens of internet satellites into orbit.

While the first delay from the 15 May launch window to 16 May was owing to bad winds, the latest delay comes from SpaceX's engineering team wanting to "update satellite software and triple-check everything again".

According to a tweet from SpaceX two hours before the planned liftoff on 17 May, they "always want to do everything (they) can on the ground to maximise mission success," and moving the launch by a week was simply that: do what's best for the mission's success.

The Starlink satellites were to be launched from the Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket as a 1.5-minute launch window opened at 10.30 pm EDT Thursday (8 am IST Friday). All tests ahead of the Falcon 9 launch, including a static fire test of the Falcon 9, were completed successfully leading up to the launch on 16 May (IST).

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled to launch a U.S. Air Force navigation satellite, sits on Launch Complex 40. Image: Reuters

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled to launch a U.S. Air Force navigation satellite, sits on Launch Complex 40. Image: Reuters

The launch was to add 60 new test satellites to its planned network of a 12,000-strong network of broadband satellites. The demo satellites to be launched by SpaceX on the current launch mission will be "test satellites" that don't have some of the features (inter-satellite links, for one) that have been planned for the final Starlink satellites. But the demo Starlink satellites will still sport some highly capable antennas and electric propulsion, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer, said at the Satellite 2019 conference in Washington DC, according to SpaceNews.

"This next batch of satellites will really be a demonstration set for us to see the deployment scheme and start putting our network together," Shotwell added. "We start launching satellites for actual service later this year."

(Also Read: SpaceX gears up to launch sixty demo Starlink internet satellites on 15 May)

More Starlink satellites launches are on the cards this year, but specific counts and dates for these depend on how this second set of satellites fare. But all that is secondary to the biggest concern for SpaceX right now: launching them. The next launch attempt is planned a week from now, and SpaceX is yet to disclose a launch window for the same.

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