Launch window and location:

Starlink is now targeting Thursday, May 23 with a 90-minute window spanning 10:30 PM - 12:00 AM EDT (0230 - 0400 UTC). Starlink will be launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, SLC-40 atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

Static fire test:

The static fire test was successfully completed on Monday, May 13th at 10:16 PM EDT. SpaceX has confirmed the May 15th target date.


Booster landing:

The booster will be making an Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) landing on OCISLY.


Weather forecast:

The 45th Space Wing L-3 forecast is predicting weather will be 90% GO for launch on Thursday, May 23.

Links:

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Where to watch:

Our launch viewing guide should be complete sometime in May. But in the meantime, check out these great launch viewing guides:

Our recommendations for this launch:

  • KARS Park is the closest the public can get to SLC-40 at only 9-10 miles from the pad. Entry to the park for launch viewing costs $5. This location may not be available due to the time of launch, we recommend having a backup spot just in case.

  • Max Brewer Bridge is another decent choice for launch viewing. Located about 14 miles from the pad, you can get some decent views of the launch by going up to the top of the bridge.

  • Space View Park is about 14 miles from SLC-40 and is a popular viewing location.

  • Jetty Park is also a popular viewing location, though it won’t offer the best view of the launch with the pad being around 11 miles away and line of sight being blocked by mangroves and trees.


IMPORTANT NOTICES:

  • Playalinda Beach will be CLOSED for this launch.

  • Exploration Tower will be CLOSED for this launch.

  • FL-401 is PERMANENTLY CLOSED for launch viewing, though traffic is still permitted.

  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tickets are SOLD OUT.


Where will the Launch360 crew be filming from?:

We’ll likely be filming this one from the Jetty Park pier, but we’re also exploring some other options at the moment.

Graphic from Everyday Astronaut.

Graphic from Everyday Astronaut.


watch live online:

The SpaceX livestream typically begins 15 minutes prior to launch. NASA TV likely won’t be broadcasting this launch.


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About Falcon 9:

Falcon 9 render from SpaceX

Falcon 9 render from SpaceX

“Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. Falcon 9 is the first orbital class rocket capable of reflight. SpaceX believes rocket reusability is the key breakthrough needed to reduce the cost of access to space and enable people to live on other planets.

Falcon 9 was designed from the ground up for maximum reliability. Falcon 9’s simple two-stage configuration minimizes the number of separation events -- and with nine first-stage engines, it can safely complete its mission even in the event of an engine shutdown.

Falcon 9 made history in 2012 when it delivered Dragon into the correct orbit for rendezvous with the International Space Station, making SpaceX the first commercial company ever to visit the station. Since then Falcon 9 has made numerous trips to space, delivering satellites to orbit as well as delivering and returning cargo from the space station for NASA. Falcon 9, along with the Dragon spacecraft, was designed from the outset to deliver humans into space and under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is actively working toward this goal.

Falcon 9’s first stage incorporates nine Merlin engines and aluminum-lithium alloy tanks containing liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellant. After ignition, a hold-before-release system ensures that all engines are verified for full-thrust performance before the rocket is released for flight. Then, with thrust greater than five 747s at full power, the Merlin engines launch the rocket to space. Unlike airplanes, a rocket's thrust actually increases with altitude; Falcon 9 generates more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust at sea level but gets up to over 1.8 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space. The first stage engines are gradually throttled near the end of first-stage flight to limit launch vehicle acceleration as the rocket’s mass decreases with the burning of fuel.

With its nine first-stage Merlin engines clustered together, Falcon 9 can sustain up to two engine shutdowns during flight and still successfully complete its mission. Falcon 9 is the only launch vehicle in its class with this key reliability feature.

The interstage is a composite structure that connects the first and second stages and holds the release and separation system. Falcon 9 uses an all-pneumatic stage separation system for low-shock, highly reliable separation that can be tested on the ground, unlike pyrotechnic systems used on most launch vehicles.

The second stage, powered by a single Merlin vacuum engine, delivers Falcon 9’s payload to the desired orbit. The second stage engine ignites a few seconds after stage separation, and can be restarted multiple times to place multiple payloads into different orbits. For maximum reliability, the second stage has redundant igniter systems. Like the first stage, the second stage is made from a high-strength aluminum-lithium alloy.”

(from SpaceX)


About Starlink:

60 Starlink satellites loaded into a Falcon fairing ahead of Starlink 0.9. Picture from Elon Musk

60 Starlink satellites loaded into a Falcon fairing ahead of Starlink 0.9.
Picture from Elon Musk

Starlink is a satellite constellation being developed by SpaceX with the goal of providing low-cost, high-performance internet across the globe. SpaceX also has plans to sell some of these satellites for military, scientific, and exploratory purposes. SpaceX currently has plans to deploy over 12,000 satellites in the Starlink constellation, with Starlink 0.9 carrying 60 of them (pictured right).



Launch360 updates:

  • The Launch360 crew will be unable to answer any questions on launch day due to low connectivity at the viewing site.

  • We’ve been working hard to complete our launch viewing guide and should hopefully have it up in May.

  • Like and follow our social media for future spaceflight updates and launch VR experiences!


Disclaimer:

Launch360 is NOT responsible for the development and/or launching of these spacecraft and have no control over launch dates, times, or frequency. Launch dates/times are always subject to change!


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