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[Update: Launched] SpaceX will attempt to launch another booster for the 9th time

With their continued push to launch as much as they possibly can this year, SpaceX will attempt to launch their 26th Starlink mission tomorrow.

Date: Tuesday, May 4th, 3:01 PM EDT

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9 (B1049.9)

Payload: 60 Starlink Satellites

Launch Pad: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center

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

The Rocket

Like all Starlink missions so far, Starlink L25 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 115 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 73 out of the 82 attempted landings of Falcon 9 boosters.

The Booster

Falcon 9 booster 1049 first launched back in September of 2018 carrying the Telstar 18V mission. It then launched 10 satellites for the Iridium NEXT constellation, afterwards it was moved over to Starlink duty and launched the first 60 version 0.9 satellites two years ago. It is now one of SpaceX’s life-leading booster with 8 missions under its belt. If this mission is successful, it will mark only the second time a rocket booster has flown 9 times.

The Weather

The T-1 day weather report from the 45th Space Wing shows a potential GO of 80% for the afternoon SpaceX launch. Concerns for the launch are cumulus clouds and winds at liftoff. Both of these are included in the potential GO calculation. What is not included is the moderate risk for booster recovery weather. This is a concern for most SpaceX launches since they do not wish to replace the expensive rockets. All though with Starlink missions, SpaceX tends to push what weather is acceptable.

In case of delay, the weather for the attempt on Wednesday is similar with the only difference being the lack of winds being an issue for launch.

Launch and Landing

B1049 lifted off Tuesday for the 9th time with its 60 Starlink satellites inside its also reused payload fairings. The payload was sent into a nominal orbit and the first stage landed again for the 9th time on Of Course I Still Love You.

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