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SpaceX scrubs its 10th Starlink satellite launch once again

SpaceX has scrubbed its Starlink launch planned for July 11, stating that it has delayed the launch “to allow more time for checkouts.” The company also stated it was working to identify a new launch opportunity, with a new date to be announced once confirmed.

This is yet another canceled attempt to launch its 10th batch of Starlink satellites into orbit after having to postpone several times.

“Targeting Saturday, July 11 at 10:54 a.m. EDT for Falcon 9 launch of 57 Starlink satellites and 2 BlackSky spacecraft,” SpaceX confirmed on Twitter.

Targeting Saturday, July 11 at 10:54 a.m. EDT for Falcon 9 launch of 57 Starlink satellites and 2 BlackSky spacecraft, a @SpaceflightInc customer

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 9, 2020

The mission had been scheduled for Wednesday, July 8, but had to be scrubbed within the final hour before launch due to weather conditions. This earlier date was itself a reschedule of a planned launch on June 26, which had to be postponed as the “team needed additional time for pre-launch checkouts,” SpaceX said.

The 10th Starlink launch will include 57 Starlink satellites to be placed into orbit, in addition to a number of other satellites from other companies as part of SpaceX’s rideshare program. There will be two satellites included from BlackSky, a geospace intelligence company that is launching a pair of satellites for observing Earth under the Spaceflight Industries service.

Reflective controversy

The launch is notable as all the Starlink satellites which are to be distributed are fitted with a new visor which should prevent some reflection from the sun and lessen the impact that these launches have on astronomical observations. Astronomers have complained that, with their constellation launches and low orbit, Starlink satellites interfere with observations and could seriously harm their ability to collect science data.

“All Starlink satellites on this flight are equipped with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft,” SpaceX said on its website, “a measure SpaceX has taken as part of our work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity.”

The visor is part of SpaceX’s plans to make its satellite launches more astronomer-friendly. The visor should deflect the sun’s rays, lessening the reflectiveness of the satellites, and the company has also discussed changing the orientation of the satellites so they are edge-on to the sun which should also lessen the amount of light reflected.

Other plans in the works include a “DarkSat” prototype which is made using different materials and is therefore less reflective.

How to watch the launch

You can watch the launch live as it happens on SpaceX’s website. Launches are also shown on SpaceX’s YouTube channel. The launch is scheduled to take place at 10:54 a.m. ET on Saturday, July 11, with coverage beginning at around 10:40 a.m. ET.

Updated July 11 with news that the launch has been scrubbed. 

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