SpaceX trucked its Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft — refurbished with a new heat shield and structural enhancements — across the Cape Canaveral spaceport this week for attachment to a Falcon 9 rocket ahead of a planned liftoff next Thursday with four astronauts heading to the International Space Station.
NASA and SpaceX have set April 22 as the target launch date for the next Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station. The four-person crew will be the first to ride a previously-flown Falcon 9 booster and a reused Dragon spacecraft, and a NASA official said this week that the launcher and capsule are in “really good shape” as refurbishment wraps up at Cape Canaveral.
Launching through a blanket of low-hanging clouds and light mist, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into the sky over Florida’s Space Coast early Thursday and delivered 60 more Starlink internet satellites to orbit. The rocket’s first stage touched down on SpaceX’s floating landing platform in the Atlantic Ocean to complete its eighth trip to space and back.
After a terminal countdown abort Sunday night, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with the next 60 Starlink internet satellites Thursday at 3:24 a.m. EST (0824 GMT). The Falcon 9 took off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, and its first stage booster successfully landed on SpaceX’s offshore drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Launch companies and U.S. Space Force range officials at Cape Canaveral are reassessing long-standing weather rules, looking at beefing up rocket defenses against lightning, and considering strategies to prepare for two different launch windows on a given day to guard against weather delays, something SpaceX may demonstrate with a Falcon 9 launch early Thursday.