SpaceX Schedules Dual Starlink and Transporter 8 Launches on Monday, June 1

In the early hours of Monday, June 12, SpaceX has scheduled a Falcon 9 rocket to launch another batch of 53 Starlink internet satellites to low Earth orbit. Liftoff is planned for 3:10 a.m. EDT (0710 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Live coverage, courtesy of SpaceX, is available from Space.com or directly from the company’s platform, expected to begin five minutes prior to launch.

Backup Launch Opportunities

Should the initial launch not proceed as planned, SpaceX has provided alternate launch timings. The company states there is an additional opportunity on June 12 at 4:52 a.m. ET (8:52 UTC). If necessary, there are also further backup opportunities on Tuesday, June 13, at 2:45 a.m. ET (06:45 UTC) and 4:26 a.m. ET (8:26 UTC).

This upcoming launch will be the ninth for this particular Falcon 9 booster, according to the SpaceX mission description. The Falcon 9’s first stage is expected to return to Earth about 8.5 minutes after liftoff for a pinpoint landing on the SpaceX drone ship, A Shortfall of Gravitas, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Once the stages separate, the rocket’s upper section will continue carrying the 53 Starlink satellites to their destination, where they will be deployed approximately 65 minutes after liftoff. This deployment is part of a massive effort by SpaceX, with more than 4,500 Starlink satellites already launched. According to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell, nearly 4,200 of them are currently operational. However, this is only the beginning. The Starlink mega constellation is slated for further expansion, with SpaceX permitted to deploy up to 12,000 broadband satellites and applying for approval to launch an additional 30,000.

These deployments aim to bring high-speed internet services to over one million subscribers worldwide. Residential Starlink internet service in the U.S. starts at $120 for residential customers after an initial $599 hardware fee. Due to the limited lifespan of these satellites – about five years – SpaceX intends to maintain a regular launch schedule for their replacement to ensure continuous service. This ongoing launch strategy aligns with SpaceX’s broader ambition to establish a global constellation, providing connectivity to various platforms such as planes, boats, recreational vehicles, residential customers, and government entities across all continents.

The early-morning Starlink liftoff is just the first leg of a planned Falcon 9 doubleheader on Monday. SpaceX also has plans to launch the Transporter 8 rideshare mission later the same day, at 5:19 p.m. EDT (2119GMT) from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The Transporter 8 mission will deliver 72 satellites to orbit for a diverse range of customers, signifying another significant achievement in SpaceX’s launch schedule.

Preparing for Future Space Launches

While it is not uncommon for SpaceX to have multiple launches within a short period, the twin launches scheduled for June 12 represent a notable effort by the company to maximize its launch capacity and increase the pace at which it deploys its Starlink satellites.

Falcon 9: A Reusable Booster

The Falcon 9 booster supporting this mission is far from new to space travel. Prior to the upcoming Starlink mission, it has launched SES-22, ispace’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1, Hispasat Amazonas Nexus, CRS-27, and four Starlink missions. The planned landing on the drone ship, A Shortfall of Gravitas, will mark the booster’s ninth successful return journey from space. This reusability aligns with SpaceX’s broader goal to make space travel more economical and sustainable.

Weather Predictions and Recovery Conditions

Space Force forecasters have indicated an 85% chance of favorable launch conditions during the nearly three-hour launch window. The launch’s timing is also expected to be conducive due to most storm activity predicted to stay over the Atlantic waters. However, as with any launch, close monitoring of weather conditions will continue up until launch time. Regarding the recovery conditions for the booster landing on the drone ship, they have been classified as “low risk.” Predictions for similar conditions have been made for the backup launch opportunity, which is set to occur 24 hours later on Tuesday, June 13.

Conclusion

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on June 12 is an exciting step towards expanding the Starlink mega constellation and providing high-speed internet connectivity globally. With backup launch opportunities in place, SpaceX ensures the Starlink satellites will soon join their counterparts in low-Earth orbit, regardless of any minor delays. The company’s relentless pursuit of innovative and sustainable space travel technology, as represented in this upcoming launch, reinforces its position as a leader in the new era of commercial space exploration.