SpaceX looks forward to this year’s 60th Starlink mission launch, one step away from setting the record – Spaceflight Now

Updated 8:58 PM EST: SpaceX has changed the mission’s launch time to the new T-0 at 10:21 PM EDT (0221 UTC).

Update 7:52 PM EST: SpaceX has adjusted the T-0’s takeoff to 9:31 PM EDT (0131 UTC). After that point, SpaceX has three more launch opportunities to launch the Starlink 6-13 mission on Thursday.

Update at 7:05 PM EST: SpaceX has pushed back the T-0 launch to 8:40 PM EST (0040 UTC on Sept. 1). SpaceX indicated in a post on X, previously Twitter, that its launch teams were monitoring the effects of Hurricane Idalia on the Cape.

Original story:

SpaceX is preparing the Falcon 9 rocket for what will be its 60th orbital launch of the year. The Starlink Group 6-13 mission is targeted for liftoff no later than 7:52 p.m. EDT (2352 UTC) on Thursday, August 31, with an array of 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites bound for low Earth orbit.

And with this launch and another about to launch from California, SpaceX is about to break the record it set in 2022 with 61 missions.

According to the analytics company press techSpaceX continues to dominate the launch market. In the first two quarters of the year, SpaceX achieved 43 orbital launches. That’s just 10 of the 53 launches from every other launch provider around the world during the same time frame.

In other words, SpaceX launched 447,209 kg of spacecraft mass between the first two quarters. The closest launch pad was the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which launched 47,034kg in the same period.

A Falcon 9 rocket is ready for launch at Cape Canaveral in what could be SpaceX’s 60th orbital launch of the year. Photo: Spaceflight Now.

SpaceX was about to tie its 2022 launch record with a mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base that was scheduled to take off Thursday morning. However, an engine problem with one of the Falcon 9 rocket’s Merlin engines spoiled what could have been a double day for SpaceX’s launch.

The company currently aims to launch this mission on behalf of the US Space Development Agency no later than Friday, September 1, at 7:26 AM PDT (10:26 AM EDT, 1426 UTC). They have not yet provided an update on the status of the engine problem. Another Starlink mission is scheduled to arrive at the Cape on Sunday.

Weather could also hamper Starlink’s Thursday night launch from Florida. The 45th Weather Squadron at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral predicted that there was only a 20 percent chance of favorable weather when the launch window opened.

Those odds improve to 60 percent by the end of the window, which closes at 11:29 PM EST (0329 UTC on September 1). There are five reserve opportunities during that window and six more the next.

The booster supporting Starlink mission 6-13, tail number B1077, has previously flown six missions, including Crew-5. It will land in the Atlantic Ocean aboard SpaceX’s unmanned ship, “A Shortfall of Gravitas.”

SpaceX’s other Florida-based drone ship, Just Read the Instructions, pulled into Port Canaveral earlier in the day after taking refuge in the Bahamas as Hurricane Adalia swept through Florida and up the East Coast.

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