A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rolls out of the hangar at pad 39A in this file photo. Credit: SpaceX
Forecasters predict a 60 percent chance of favorable weather for launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to carry more Starlink broadband satellites into orbit.
The launch — set for 2:19 p.m. EDT (1819 GMT) Thursday — will add around 60 more Starlink satellites to SpaceX’s ever-growing broadband network. SpaceX has launched more than 700 Starlink satellites to date, making the company the owner of the largest fleet of spacecraft in orbit.
Like the previous Starlink launches, a 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket head northeast from Florida’s Space Coast with 1.7 million pounds of thrust from nine Merlin main engines, then shed its first stage booster about two-and-a-half minutes into the flight.
A single Merlin engine on the Falcon 9’s second stage is expected to fire two times to release the stack of Starlink satellites in a near-circular orbit between 172 miles (278 kilometers) and 162 miles (261 kilometers), with an inclination of 53 degrees, according to pre-launch estimates.
SpaceX plans to recover the Falcon 9’s first stage aboard the drone ship “Just ...