SpaceX has had a string of bad luck with the weather lately. While they successfully conducted a Crew Dragon test that paves the way to returning people into space from American soil later this year, it was initially delayed due to poor weather conditions at the launch site. Now for the third time, SpaceX’s planned Starlink launch has also been delayed due to weather today.
SpaceX was scheduled to launch 60 of its internet-beaming satellites at 9:49am ET this morning from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. However, high winds at the launch site forced the launch company to postpone it once again to tomorrow. SpaceX will try again to launch at 9:28am ET tomorrow.
The 45th Space Wing of the U.S. Air Force has meteorologists responsible for forecasting weather at the Florida launchpads. In their latest update they said there is only a 10% chance that weather would interfere with tomorrow’s launch plans, citing cumulus clouds as a potential issue. In their latest forecast update, they said, “High pressure will slowly build behind the low on Tuesday, with drier air gradually filtering into the region. Lingering clouds behind the low will be the main concern during the launch window as winds become north-northeasterly.”
This new SpaceX launch is carrying their Starlink satellites to space. The Starlink fleet, which is expected to ultimately number in the thousands of satellites, is designed to beam broadband Internet signals to worldwide consumers. The company, founded and led by Elon Musk, plans to bring affordable high-speed internet into remote regions that currently lack reliable Internet service, plus additional customers such as airlines, ships, and government/military purposes. When fully functionable, the hope is to create an internet connection faster than the current cable internet speed without the need for wires at a fraction of the price. In previous announcements, SpaceX said it hopes to begin regional broadband service in portions of North America during the middle of the year once 12 Starlink launches have occured. They hope to bring global internet on-line after 24 launches. To date, there have been three launches: one last May, one last November, and one just weeks ago in early January. According to the SpaceX launch schedule, 20 more Starlink launches are slated for this year. Each launch brings 60 new satellites into orbit.
Bringing affordable global internet via satellites is one of many ambitious plans Musk has for Space X. Last week he said his company was committed to getting a million people to Mars by 2050 on his new Starship rocket currently under development. That rocket is due to bring commercial flights around and to the Moon in the coming years.