SpaceX looks to stay on track with launches as Starlink grows – CNET


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A Falcon 9 loaded with Starlink satellites prepares for launch.


SpaceX

SpaceX is busy sending satellites to space to keep up with the rollout of its Starlink global broadband network.

I received an email notification that the beta version of the high-speed internet service is now available in my area, which is significantly further south than the initial beta offering in Canada and the northern US. (I’m at latitude 36 degrees in the Northern Hemisphere. Vancouver is at 49 degrees.)

It’s a sign that the expansion of Starlink is on schedule, but Elon Musk’s company needs to keep blasting more flying routers into orbit to keep growing and to meet the requirements of its license to operate from the US Federal Communications Commission.

SpaceX could launch its next batch of Starlink broadband satellites from Cape Canaveral in Florida as soon as Sunday night, its fifth Starlink mission of 2021 so far.


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This particular set of Starlink devices has been delayed from launching at least nine times due to different technical and weather-related issues. That sounds like a lot, but delays are the name of the game with space launches, and it’s far more unusual for a mission to never be postponed at all.

This next launch comes after the last Starlink mission ended with a lost booster that missed its landing on a company droneship and splashed down in the nearby ocean instead. The booster that is set to be used Sunday night will be making a record-tying eighth launch and landing. Even before the loss of the other Falcon 9 on Feb. 16, SpaceX opted to do another round of due diligence for this mission.

Liftoff is set for Sunday at 5:37 p.m. PT (8:37 p.m. ET) from Kennedy Space Center. The weather looks favorable for the launch and landing on a droneship, as well as the attempted recovery of both halves of the fairing.

We will cover the livestream of the launch right here. It’s set to begin about 10 minutes before launch.

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