SpaceX’s Saturday launch of Starlink sets the stage for Tuesday’s ULA mission

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The second of SpaceX’s two Falcon 9 rockets launched this week away from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral on Saturday night, less than 18 hours after NASA’s Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station blasted off from nearby Kennedy Space Center.

This mission was scheduled to dock with the space station at 8:50 a.m. EST Sunday after a 30-hour flight into orbit.

At 9:05 p.m. EDT, the 230-foot rocket blasted off with another batch of 22 Starlink internet satellites away from Launch Complex 40 on a southeasterly trajectory, past the coast of Florida and the Bahamas. It was visible across the state by fans at both Daytona International Speedway at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and at Exploria Stadium in Orlando during an Orlando City MLS soccer game.

The first stage of the rocket landed on the unmanned ship Just Read the Instructions about eight minutes after liftoff, completing its third mission so far.

Meanwhile, the Space Coast’s next launch, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V, scheduled for Tuesday morning, may have to contend with adverse weather conditions. A storm system brewing off Florida’s southwest coast could affect the region by early week.

What’s the payload for SpaceX’s launch on Saturday?

Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite internet service, primarily intended for hard-to-reach locations. The constellation, which operates about 340 miles above Earth, provides coverage for most of North and South America, Europe, Japan and Australia.

All told, the company has sent more than 5,000 flat-panel satellites into orbit since 2019.

And last year, SpaceX also signed an agreement Deal with cellular service provider T-Mobile To allow users to access Starlink Internet services to send text messages. The plan, called Coverage Above and Beyond, is expected to be available to T-mobile customers by the end of this year.

NASA SpaceX Crew-7: Falcon 9 lifted off from KSC early Saturday, sending a crew of four to the International Space Station.

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When is the next launch from Florida?

The next launch scheduled to take off from Florida’s Space Coast is the second this year for United Launch Alliance.

Teams at Cape 41 Launch Complex prepare an Atlas V rocket with a classified payload for the US Space Force and the National Reconnaissance Office for launch early next week.

The payload is part of the Space Force’s Silent Barker satellite constellation network that aims to provide space situational awareness, orbital monitoring and tracking.

The NROL-107 mission, scheduled to launch at 8:34 a.m. EST, Tuesday, August 29, will arc over the Atlantic Ocean on an easterly trajectory.

Questionable weather forecast for the next takeoff:

Saturday’s weather report from the Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predicted conditions to be 70% “right” for ULA’s liftoff from the Cape on Tuesday morning.

“An area of ​​low pressure is currently developing in the northwest Caribbean Sea and will head north into the Gulf of Mexico early next week,” the report said. “While there is still some disagreement among global models regarding the potential location, timing and intensity of this storm, by Tuesday morning most models had a good system in our southwest, somewhere in the southeastern Gulf.”

Primary concerns for launch day listed cumulonimbus and cumulonimbus clouds around the spaceport, as well as the possibility of some rain. Conditions degrade to 35% “Go” for a backup chance after 24 hours on Wednesday.

If the schedules hold, this mission will become the 45th Space Coast launch this year. Follow FLORIDA TODAY’s Space Team live coverage starting 90 minutes before liftoff.

For the latest updates, visit

Contact Jimmy Groh at and follow her at @AlteredJamie.

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