April 17, 2024

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Live updates from the Starlink Falcon 9 launch at the Cape

Live updates from the Starlink Falcon 9 launch at the Cape

Check back for live FLORIDA TODAY Space Team launch updates on this page.

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Hopefully the third time is the charm, but the delays keep coming!

Welcome to FLORIDA TODAY's space team's live coverage of SpaceX's third consecutive evening attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on the Starlink 6-44 mission to deliver another batch of satellites into orbit.

SpaceX has now postponed its liftoff target twice, to 8:21 PM EDT, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center pad 39A.

Thursday's scrub was disappointing after an exciting day for SpaceX. Not only was it Pi Day, the company celebrated a landmark Starship test flight as well as its 22nd anniversary.

Thursday night's launch attempt stopped the countdown with two minutes and one second remaining. SpaceX reported on X (formerly Twitter) that there was an issue with the carrier arms. The carrier erector pulls the missile into a vertical position and is supposed to retract before take-off.

Thursday's scrub came on the heels of Wednesday's scrub. SpaceX did not provide a reason for the scrub Wednesday night, which stopped at T-2 minutes, 3 seconds.

Assuming it launches tonight, the Falcon 9 will deploy a constellation of Starlink internet satellites, positioned inside the upper deck atop the 230-foot-tall rocket. No local sonic booms are expected – instead, after flying skyward along a southeast trajectory, the rocket's first stage booster will aim to land on a drone ship at sea 8 1/2 minutes after liftoff.

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Update 8:21 p.m.: SpaceX has finally launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 KSC Starlink satellites.

Update 8:16 p.m.: The SpaceX launch webcast hosted on X (formerly Twitter) is now posted above, directly below the countdown clock.

Liftoff is scheduled within five minutes from KSC.

8:06 PM: After successive attempts, will Falcon 9 finally be able to fly? Stay tuned.

Update 7:59 p.m.: SpaceX said tonight's mission marks the 19th flight of the Falcon 9 first stage booster.

SpaceX reported that the well-traveled booster previously launched GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, Inspiration4, Ax-1, Nilesat 301, OneWeb Launch 17, Arabsat Badr-8, and 11 Starlink missions.

After stage separation, the crew expects the booster to land on the drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean 8 minutes and 26 seconds after liftoff.

Update 7:49 p.m.: Visual cues indicate that Falcon 9 fueling procedures are now underway at pad 39A, although SpaceX has yet to make an official announcement.

This means that tonight's Starlink mission is now committed to liftoff at 8:21pm without any delay in the countdown, otherwise the launch must be postponed.

Update 7:36 p.m.: SpaceX officials just tweeted an update: “Less than one hour until Falcon 9 launches 23 satellites from Florida. Both rocket and weather are currently ready for liftoff.”

Updated at 7:30 p.m.: Here's a summary of key events in SpaceX's remaining countdown schedule. T minus:

  • 38 minutes: SpaceX's launch director checks the “launch” of propellant loading.
  • 35 minutes: The loading of rocket kerosene and the first stage of liquid oxygen begins.
  • 16 minutes: The second stage of liquid oxygen loading begins.
  • 7 minutes: The Falcon 9 begins engine cooling before launch.
  • 1 minute: The flight command computer begins final pre-launch checks; The fuel tank pressure starts until it reaches cruising pressure.
  • 45 seconds: SpaceX's launch director checks the “go” for the launch.
  • 3 seconds: The engine control module controls the start of the engine ignition sequence.
  • 0 seconds: Leaves.
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Update 7:09 PM: SpaceX just delayed its target liftoff time by about half an hour, to 8:21 p.m

Update 7:01 p.m.: In a forecast released Wednesday, the Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron pegged the weather odds for tonight's “shootout” at 90%.

“On Friday, a cold front will settle farther south, causing local divergence and increased wind flow. Moisture will rise across the atmospheric column ahead of the front, but is unlikely to produce much in the way of mid-level cloud cover,” the forecast said.

“A cumulonimbus cloud base will be the only remote weather concern for the backup launch window on Friday evening,” the forecast said.

Update 6:33 p.m.: NASA has announced the upcoming SpaceX CRS-30 mission — where a Falcon 9 will launch a Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying science probes, supplies and equipment to the International Space Station — is scheduled to launch at 4:55 p.m. on Thursday.

The rocket will be launched from pad 39A at KSC. The first stage booster will produce sonic booms by targeting landing at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Update 6:10 p.m.: Brevard County Emergency Management officials have activated the agency's launch support team ahead of SpaceX's upcoming Falcon 9 launch.

Contact space reporter Brooke Edwards at [email protected].