SpaceX delays launch of thirteenth starlink mission due to rocket 'recovery issue'

SpaceX called off the launch of a new fleet of Starlink internet satellites on Thursday (Feb. 17) due to a "recovery issue" related to the mission's Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is targeting Friday, September 18 at 1:57 p.m. EDT, 17:57 UTC, for launch of its thirteenth Starlink mission, which will launch 60 Starlink satellites to orbit.

A fairing half is previously supported Starlink missions in May 2019 & March 2020. Image credit: SpaceX

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to launch 60 new Starlink satellites for the company's growing mega constellation at 2:19 p.m. EDT (1819 GMT) Thursday from Pad 39A of NASA's historic Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But 15 minutes before the planned liftoff, SpaceX scrubbed the mission. 


"Standing down from today's Starlink launch due to recovery issue; vehicle and payload remain healthy. Next launch opportunity is tomorrow, September 18 at 1:57 p.m. EDT, but we are keeping an eye on weather," SpaceX representatives announced in a Twitter update.


"Standing down from tomorrow’s launch of Starlink due to severe weather in the recovery area, which is likely to persist for a couple days. Will announce a new target launch date once confirmed," SpaceX representatives announced in a another Twitter update.


Recovering Falcon 9 rocket boosters is a key part of SpaceX's plan to reduce the cost of spaceflight while scaling up the company's launch pace. The Falcon 9 first stage on this mission has already flown twice before this year. It launched SpaceX's Demo-2 astronaut mission for NASA in May, then flew again in July to deliver the South Korean military satellite ANASIS-II into orbit. 


SpaceX is targeting Friday, September 18 at 1:57 p.m. EDT, 17:57 UTC, for launch of its thirteenth Starlink mission, which will launch 60 Starlink satellites to orbit. Falcon 9 will lift off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported launch of Crew Dragon’s first flight to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts onboard and the ANASIS-II mission. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. One of Falcon 9’s fairing halves supported two previous Starlink launches.


Source: SpaceX