SpaceX was forced to stand down from a second attempt to launch its futuristic satellite constellation from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, setting the stage for a third opening no earlier than next week.
“Standing down to update satellite software and triple-check everything again,” the company said two hours before the planned 10:30 p.m. Falcon 9 liftoff from Launch Complex 40. “Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success. Next launch opportunity in about a week.”
If teams can work through the software issues by then, the launch window’s opening time is expected to be similar.
SpaceX is planning on recovering the booster, which previously flew on two missions – one from Florida, one from California. About eight minutes after liftoff, the 156-foot-tall first stage will land on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Crammed into the rocket’s payload fairing are 60 Starlink satellites, which will kick off the company’s attempt at entering the internet service business. CEO Elon Musk hopes to capture between 3% and 5% of the world’s $1 trillion telecommunications industry and use that revenue to fund future voyages to the moon and Mars.
The Starlink constellation, he said, could become operational with about 400 satellites and begin to pay for itself at that point. At around 1,500 satellites, Starlink would provide worldwide coverage and help deliver connectivity to people in rural areas or those paying high prices for less-than-stellar services, he said.
“There’s a fundamental goodness in approving people’s connectivity choices,” Musk told reporters Wednesday.
Contact Emre Kelly at [email protected] or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.
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