Updated at 7:20 p.m. EDT (2320 UTC): Hurricane Hilary delays launch in California.
August 16 Falcon 9 carrying 22 Starlink satellites takes off from Cape Canaveral. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now. Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral late Wednesday carrying 22 Starlink satellites, but the scheduled launch from California was delayed just hours later, derailing SpaceX’s plans to launch broadband Internet service.
The Starlink 6-10 mission lit up the Florida night sky with a thunderous liftoff from Pad 40 of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Wednesday, August 16 at 11:36 p.m. EDT (0336 UTC on the 17th). It was originally scheduled to fly three hours early, but dropped to the fourth of five possible launch opportunities. Thunderstorms rolled over Cape Canaveral during the afternoon and evening, but SpaceX did not say whether weather or technical issues affected the launch’s timing. Ultimately, Space Force meteorologists reported that the weather was 90 percent “favorable” for a rescheduled launch.
The thunderstorm moved ashore, allowing SpaceX to continue the Falcon 9 countdown. Image: Spaceflight Now. The first stage booster, tail number B1067 in the SpaceX fleet, successfully landed on the drone ship A Short Fall of Gravitas about eight and a half minutes after liftoff. It was the 171st successful sea landing and the 217th total recovery for a reusable missile. SpaceX’s recovery craft, Doug, was to recover halves of the payload fairing. One side of the payload fairing flew 10 times, the other 11 times.
After two Falcon 9 second-stage burns separated by a 45-minute coast phase, 22 Starlink satellites were successfully deployed into a target orbit of 182 × 176 miles (293 × 284 km) with an inclination of 43 degrees. coming through a tracking station on the Pacific island of Guam.
An onboard camera takes a brief look at the Starlink satellites inside the payload fairing during launch. Image: SpaceX. Attention then turned to the launch of the next batch of Starlink satellites, this time 21 spacecraft from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday at 12:01 p.m. PDT (3:01 a.m. EDT, 0701 UTC), but after the Cape Falcon 9 launch, SpaceX repeatedly delayed the west coast launch until a third chance, then a fourth, and then the end. window at 3:35 PDT (6:35 EDT / 1035 UTC). The launch was eventually cleared for the day and moved to early Friday. The company did not say whether technical problems or weather conditions were to blame for the delay.
Then on Thursday, SpaceX announced further delays. Hurricane Hilary is making landfall on the West Coast and offshore in the Rapid Recovery Zone, putting the launch on hold until Monday at the earliest.
SpaceX launched a total of 4,962 Starlink satellites into orbit after Wednesday’s launch from Florida, according to tabulations by an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who maintains the spaceflight database.
It was the 99th flight of the Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites as the main payload and the 12th launch of the so-called V2 mini-satellites, which are larger and have four times the bandwidth of previous models.