Update 4 p.m. EDT (2000 UTC) Friday: SpaceX has slipped the launch attempt until Saturday, July 15, at 11:50 p.m. EDT (0350 UTC). A launch attempt early Friday was aborted at T-40 seconds, when SpaceX’s Launch Director called a hold on the Starlink Group 5-15 mission. No reason has been provided for the scrub.
For the second time this week, SpaceX will push the envelope by flying a Falcon 9 rocket for a 16th time. The rocket is scheduled to liftoff from Cape Canaveral’s pad 40 at 12:40 a.m. EDT (0440 UTC) carrying more Starlink satellites into orbit. On Sunday night another booster lifted off from the same launch pad becoming the first Falcon 9 rocket to make a 16th flight.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster, tail number 1060, previously launched GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, Intelsat G-33/G-34, Transporter-6, and 10 Starlink missions. It will be only the second booster to have flown 16 times, following close of the heels of Booster 1058’s launch of 22 second-generation Starlink satellites. With just four days, 41 minutes and 40 seconds between that launch and Friday’s planned liftoff, SpaceX could break the record for the shortest turnaround between missions from a single pad.
This mission, designated Starlink 5-15 will loft the last 54 older-generation Starlink V1.5 satellites. Earlier this year SpaceX started placing a new generation of Starlink satellites in orbit, known as Starlink V2 Minis, which are larger and offer four times the broadband capacity of the older-design satellites.
The Starlink network provides high-speed, low-latency connectivity to customers around the world. SpaceX says each Starlink launch adds more than a terabit per second of capacity to the constellation.
SpaceX currently has 4397 functioning Starlink satellites in space, according to a tabulation by Jonathan McDowell, an expert tracker of spaceflight activity and an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
If all goes according to plan, the first-stage booster will land on the drone ship ‘A Short Fall of Gravitas’ in the Atlantic Ocean about eight and a half minutes after launch. The 54 Starlink satellites will be deployed just over an hour after launch.