April 18, 2024

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SpaceX is targeting a Starlink launch on Wednesday evening, and is preparing for its third Starship flight – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX is targeting a Starlink launch on Wednesday evening, and is preparing for its third Starship flight – Spaceflight Now
A Falcon 9 rocket is ready to support the launch of Starlink 6-44 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on March 13, 2024. Image: Spaceflight Now

Update at 7:20 PM ET: SpaceX has adjusted the T-0 mission's liftoff time.

SpaceX is busy preparing for two launch pad missions in Florida and Texas. It is preparing to launch the third Integrated Flight Test (IFT-3) of its Starship rocket on Thursday morning, but in the meantime, it hopes to launch a constellation of Starlink satellites from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The Starlink 6-44 mission is scheduled to launch from Launch Complex 39A no later than 9:25 PM ET on Wednesday (0125 UTC on Thursday). There are 23 satellites on board the Falcon 9 rocket, which represents the launch of more than 6,000 Starlink satellites so far.

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage about an hour before liftoff.

The first stage booster supporting this mission, B1062, will be launched for the 19th time, making it the flight leader alongside B1058 and B1061. B1058 was destroyed on her return voyage to Port Canaveral.

B1062 previously launched two Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites; Inspiration4 and Ax-1 manned flights; And 11 Starlink missions are among 18 previous launches.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1062 will land on the SpaceX drone, named “A Shortfall of Gravitas.” This will be the 61st landing on ASOG as well as the 284th landing for a SpaceX vehicle to date.

After this mission, SpaceX will launch 26 times. This will also be the world's 49th orbital launch.

Spacecraft on the horizon

While the Starlink mission is in the works, SpaceX has also reached the end of the Starship IFT-3 mission. Late Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a launch license for the flight from SpaceX's Starbase facility in south Texas. Read the supporting documentation here.

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The weather forecast for a launch on Thursday morning, the currently announced target date, could be an issue for the launch. In addition to the fog around 7 a.m. Cairo time (1200 UTC), the weather is also expected to be cloudy.

SpaceX has multiple backup dates for launch attempts, which currently extend through Monday, March 18.