Record-breaking attempt for rapid reuse rocket as internet satellites lift-off

James Marshall
January 20, 2021

SpaceX announced a third delay for its Starlink-16 mission late on January 18th, pushing the launch to no earlier than 8:02 am EST (13:02 UTC), Wednesday, January 20th "to allow additional time for pre-launch inspections".

Moreover, the landing was especially auspicious for the Elon Musk led company, as the landing area in the Atlantic Zone had stronger winds than SpaceX has deemed to be "safe" until this point. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

A series of recent delays in Starship and Starlink prompted SpaceX to test space and launch two Falcon 9 rockets in the same 25-hour period, potentially setting the stage for a hectic Wednesday and Thursday.

The Falcon 9 rocket that carried the new batch of satellites had been used in 7 missions before.

The service, which beams high-speed internet down to Earth from its satellite constellation, was recently switched on in the United Kingdom having previously only been available in North America.

The plan became mired in controversy nearly immediately, with astronomers voicing concerns about the SpaceX mission's impact.

The mission, known as Transporter-1, can be launched between 9:24 a.m. and 10:24 a.m. EST (2:24 p.m. - 3:24 p.m. UTC) Thursday, January 21, and will be the first launch of the dedicated Smallsat Rideshare program From SpaceX, this is the launch of the East Coast Second Pool in half a century and the first launch of Starlink Pile. Now, about a 1000 Starlink satellites are orbiting the Earth, and that number will only grow in the future.

Dr Jeremy Tregloan-Reed, a University of Antofagasta astronomer who assessed the prototype, said recently: "I would not consider DarkSat as a victory but instead a good step in the right direction".

The pioneering space company said: "The next generation satellite, created to take advantage of Starship's unique launch capabilities, will be specifically created to minimise brightness while also increasing the number of consumers that it can serve with high-speed internet access".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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