Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch another 60 of its Starlink broadband satellites today (February 17th) from Cape Canaveral.
The launch was originally scheduled for February 14th, then rescheduled to February 15th but bad weather again forced a delay. Today’s launch mission will be the fifth overall for Starlink, and the third flight for this particular Falcon 9 rocket.
The launch is currently scheduled for 15.25 GMT (10.25 am Florida-time).
SpaceX’s recovery vessels are already positioned down-range in the Atlantic Ocean ready for the rocket to land after launch, and – if successful – will be the 50th recovery of a rocket in what is now a fairly routine operation.
SpaceX will also be attempting to recover the rocket’s expensive payload fairings with two recovery ships (GO Ms Tree and GO Ms Chief – aka Mystery and Mischief). The fairings cost about $3 million apiece and the object is to capture then for refurbishing and re-use.
This flight will take the number of orbiting Starlink satellites to some 300 in the mega-constellation. However, Musk has ambitions to send another 12,000 craft up into orbit (and as many as 40,000 in total over time) although a service can be started with far fewer satellites in orbit.
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president has recently said that its Starlink broadband service will cost “less than what you are paying now for about five to 10 times the speed you are getting”.