SpaceX push toward new launch record delayed

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, perched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, takes off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station. 


The 11th SpaceX launch of 2020, a launch of 57 Starlink satellites set for Friday, has been postponed once again. “Team needed additional time for prelaunch checkouts, but Falcon 9 and the satellites are healthy,” SpaceX tweeted a couple of hours before the scheduled launch time. 

The launch has yet to be rescheduled. Already postponed from Tuesday and Thursday, it will be the third in a series of Starlink missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company’s 12th launch of the year is tentatively planned for the following Tuesday. 

With two more launches planned for June, SpaceX had been on schedule to launch five of its Falcon 9 rockets in the span of about a month. Continuing this near-weekly pace of launches would allow Elon Musk’s commercial space startup to pretty easily set a company record for most launches in a year. 

The latest string of missions started with its historic success sending NASA astronauts to orbit on May 27, followed by three Starlink launches and plans to boost a GPS satellite on June 30. 

SpaceX had its most active year so far in 2018 with 21 launches and is now on pace to eclipse that mark in 2020, perhaps hitting 38 launches for the year total if all its plans pan out. The company hopes to continue packing its calendar with more lift-offs, aiming for 70 missions in 2023, according to a draft filing with the Federal Aviation Administration from earlier this year

Many of the launches will be Starlink missions, as SpaceX looks to put tens of thousands of its small satellites in orbit this decade. The company has begun conducting ride-share launches, making room for a few commercial payloads alongside a batch of Starlink birds. 

The next Starlink launch is set to be the second Starlink ride share, this time with two Earth-observing microsatellites for Black Sky, a company that provides high-def satellite imagery.

This would have been the third Starlink launch in June alone, bringing the size of the growing…

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