SpaceX is preparing the Falcon 9 rocket for its 60th orbital launch. The Starlink Group 6-13 mission aims to lift off no earlier than 7:52 p.m. EDT (2352 UTC) on Thursday, August 31, and the batch of 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites will enter low Earth orbit.
With this launch and another to fly from California, SpaceX is closing in on 2022. achieved a record of 61 missions.
According to analytics firm BryceTechSpaceX continues to dominate the launch market. In the first two quarters of the year, SpaceX performed 43 orbital launches. That’s just ten less than the 53 launches from all other providers worldwide over the same period.
In other words, between the first two quarters, SpaceX launched 447,209 kg of spacecraft. The next closest launcher was the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which launched 47,034 kg during the same period.
Falcon 9 is ready to launch from Cape Canaveral in what could be SpaceX’s 60th orbital launch of the year. Image: Spaceflight Now. SpaceX was ready to link its 2022 launch record mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base, which was scheduled to lift off Thursday morning. But an engine problem with one of Falcon 9’s Merlin engines marred what would have been a double launch day for SpaceX.
The company is currently seeking no earlier than Friday, September 1 at 7:26 a.m. PDT (10:26 a.m. EDT, 1426 UTC) to launch this mission on behalf of the US Space Development Agency. So far they have not provided an update on the status of the engine issue. The next Starlink mission is scheduled for the Cape as early as Sunday.
Weather could also disrupt Thursday night’s Starlink launch from Florida. Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predicted a 20 percent chance of favorable weather when the launch window opened.
Those odds improve to 60 percent whether or not after the window, which closes at 11:29 p.m. EDT (September 1 at 0329 UTC). There are five backup opportunities in that window and six more the next day.
The Starlink 6-13 mission support booster, tail number B1077, has previously flown six missions, including the Crew-5 mission. It will land in the Atlantic Ocean with SpaceX’s Gravitas Deficiency drone ship.
Another Florida-based SpaceX drone ship, Just Read the Instructions, docked at Port Canaveral earlier in the day after sheltering in the Bahamas as Hurricane Idalia tore through Florida and up the East Coast.