Just days after NASA and SpaceX historic Launch America mission, SpaceX will be sending Falcon 9 into space again, this time to launch the eighth batch of Starlink satellites into Earth's orbit.
The launch is scheduled to take place from Cape Canaveral, with a back-up launch window the following day, should the mission be cancelled.
Starlink's eighth mission
Date and time
As reported by the Kennedy Space Centre, that blast off is set for Wednesday evening 3 June at 20:55 Eastern Time (ET). For us in South Africa, that will be in the early morning hours of Thursday 4 June, at 02:55.
The launch window opens at 2:55; however, SpaceX is only targetting liftoff at 03:25. SpaceX originally wanted to launch the eighth batch of satellites into space before the NASA mission but had to cancel due to the weather.
Anticipated weather conditions are expected to be favourable for the most part, with the team anticipating 70% "go" conditions during the launch window.
"Given the time of day, the atmosphere is expected to be fairly stable. The main concerns will be the thick cloud layer rule due to upper-level clouds streaming in from the west, and the cumulus cloud rule due to approaching isolated showers."
Where to watch SpaceX's Starlink mission on 3 June 2020
At the time of publishing, no launch viewing opportunities were available for SpaceX Starlink eighth mission. We will add the live stream here as soon as it becomes available.
Starlink satellites currently in space
As of the last launch, which took place on 22 April 2020, SpaceX has launched 422 satellites into low-Earth orbit. The maiden voyage of two satellites known as Tintin A and B, took place on 22 February 2018 after three years of development.
The first launch of 60 satellites followed three months later. Five weeks later, 57 of the 60 satellites were "healthy" while three had become non-operational.
Two satellites – Starlink-46 and Starlink-1220 – have since been de-orbited. The launch on 3 June will send another 60 satellites into orbit, bringing the total to 482.
Elon Musk dismisses 'space junk' concerns
SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently dismissed scientists' concerns that the Starlink constellation would obscure the view of the night sky. Musk predicts that the batches of satellites won't cause "any impact whatsoever".
"I am confident that we will not cause any impact whatsoever in astronomical discoveries, zero. That's my prediction; we will take corrective action if it's above zero."
Musk plans to send a total of 42 00 satellites into low-Earth orbit and already has the approval for 12 000. An additional 30 000 satellites must still be cleared by the Internal Telecommunication Union (ITU).
He said the issue only occurred as the satellites were "tumbling" as they raised their orbit, and that once they achieved their final flight path, the issue went away.
SpaceX / NASA's 'Launch America' mission
A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying two NASA astronauts – Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley – docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday 31 May 2020, following the historical launch 19 hours prior.
It marked the first time that a crewed US spacecraft was launched for American soil in nearly a decade, since the Space Shuttle program was shuttered in 2011
"It's been a real honour to be a small part of this nine-year endeavour since the last time a United States spaceship has docked with the International Space Station."Doug Hurley