[Update: Payload Deployment Confirmed] SpaceX’s 10th mission of 2021 to be another 60 Starlink satellites

SpaceX is planning to launch their 10th Falcon 9 rocket of 2021 with another 60 satellites for their worldwide internet constellation, Starlink. Seven out of SpaceX’s 10 launches this year have been missions solely dedicated to building out their constellation and expand Starlink’s coverage.

Date: Wednesday, April 7th, 12:34 PM EDT / 4:34 PM UTC

Rocket: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 (B1058.7)

Payload: 60 Starlink Satellites

Launch Pad: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

Landing Site: ASDS Of Course I Still Love You, Atlantic Ocean

The Rocket

Like all Starlink missions so far, Starlink L23 will launch on top of a Falcon 9 rocket powered by 9 Merlin engines on the first stage and a single vacuum optimized Merlin on the second stage. The workhorse for SpaceX since it first launched in 2010, the Falcon 9 has launched 112 missions with a 98% success rate.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, referred to as “the booster”, is able to land vertically on either land or on a barge in the ocean after its missions. This allows for cheaper access to space, increased reliability, and quicker turnarounds. SpaceX has successfully landed 71 out of the 80 attempted landings of Falcon 9 boosters.

The Booster

The historic B1058 which launch the first SpaceX crewed mission in May of 2020 has so far launched a total of 6 times. B1058 has launched an assortment of missions including Starlink, commercial, and NASA missions that have all been on its manifest in the past year. This booster also uniquely displays the NASA Worm logo on its side, the first and so far only SpaceX booster to do so since for Crew 1 the logo was moved to the second stage. If this mission is successful, it would tie the record for the fastest turnaround time for a booster at 27 days and would also only be the third booster to fly a total of 7 times.

The Weather

The current weather report from the 45th Space Wing shows promising weather for tomorrow’s mid-day launch. This is due to a high-pressure system that will be positioned over Central Florida today and tomorrow. Low winds and clear skies will make for a <10% chance of weather scrubbing the launch, which is pretty much as good as it gets.

The only concern is moderate upper-level wind shear, this is the difference in wind direction in the upper atmosphere winds that could rip the vehicle apart if strong enough. These conditions, along with booster recovery weather and solar activity aren’t accounted for in the probability and we will have to wait till launch day to see if they meet flight criteria.

Terminal Count Updates

Wednesday, April 7, 11:56 AM EDT: Launch Director gave go to begin fueling of the rocket.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:06 PM EDT: SpaceX confirms weather is good for launch, including upper-level wind shear.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:14 PM EDT: Falcon 9 rocket has begun venting off boiled off oxygen.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:20 PM EDT: SpaceX coverage is now live.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:26 PM EDT: Engine chill has begun.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:30 PM EDT: Strongback retraction completed.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:31 PM EDT: Stage 1 fueling has completed.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:32 PM EDT: Stage 2 fueling has completed.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:34 PM EDT: Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket!

Wednesday, April 7, 12:37 PM EDT: MECO, stage separation, and section stage MVAC ignition.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:41 PM EDT: Stage 1 entry burn complete.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:43 PM EDT: B1058 has successfully landed on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You.

Wednesday, April 7, 12:45 PM EDT: Second engine cut off 1 (SECO-1).

Wednesday, April 7, 1:20 PM EDT : Second engine start up 2 (SES-2) and SECO-2.

Wednesday, April 7, 1:39 PM EDT: Deployment of SpaceX’s 60 Starlink satellites confirmed.


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