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Sun, Jul 12, 2020

Delayed Again! Starlink Launch To Be Reset

Originally Targeted Saturday, July 11 At 1054 EDT, Now Reset For Unknown Date

ANN RealTime Update: SpaceX has had to stand down from the Saturday attempt to launch the Tenth Starlink mission, noting shortly before the scheduled launchtime, via twitter, that "Standing down from today's launch of the tenth Starlink mission to allow more time for checkouts; team is working to identify the next launch opportunity. Will announce a new target date once confirmed with the Range."

Original Report: SpaceX is targeting Saturday, July 11 at 10:54 a.m. EDT, 14:54 UTC, for launch of its tenth Starlink mission, which will include 57 Starlink satellites and 2 satellites from BlackSky, a Spaceflight customer. Falcon 9 will lift off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, and the fourth and seventh Starlink missions. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

The BlackSky Global spacecraft will deploy sequentially beginning 1 hour and 1 minute after liftoff, and the Starlink satellites will deploy approximately 1 hour and 32 minutes after liftoff. Starlink satellites will be deployed in a circular orbit, as was done on the first through fourth Starlink missions. Additionally, all Starlink satellites on this flight are equipped with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft – a measure SpaceX has taken as part of our work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity.

This process makes the satellites generally invisible to the naked eye within a week of launch. They're doing this by changing the way the satellites fly to their operational altitude, so that they fly with the satellite knife-edge to the Sun. SpaceX is working on implementing this as soon as possible for all satellites since it is a software change.

Starlink has three phases of flight: (1) orbit raise, (2) parking orbit (380 km above Earth), and (3) on-station (550 km above Earth). During orbit raise the satellites use their thrusters to raise altitude over the course of a few weeks. Some of the satellites go directly to station while others pause in the parking orbit to allow the satellites to precess to a different orbital plane. Once satellites are on-station they reconfigure so the antennas face Earth and the solar array goes vertical so that it can track the Sun to maximize power generation. As a result of this maneuver, the satellites become much darker because the solar array visibility from the ground is greatly reduced.

FMI: www.spacex.com, www.starlink.com

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