A series of recent delays in Starship and Starlink prompted SpaceX to test space and launch two Falcon 9 rockets in the same 25-hour period, potentially setting the stage for a hectic Wednesday and Thursday.
SpaceX announced a third postponement of its Starlink-16 mission at the end of January 18, with its launch on Wednesday, January 20 at at least 8:02 a.m. ET (1:02 UTC) to allow additional time for pre-launch inspections. The delay from the 18th to the 19th “due to bad weather in the recovery area”, the technical delay until Monday, means that the Starlink-16 will now be launched 25 hours before the launch date of the second Falcon 9.
The mission, known as Transporter-1, can be launched between 9:24 a.m. and 10:24 a.m. EST (2:24 p.m. – 3:24 p.m. UTC) Thursday, January 21, and will be the first launch of the dedicated Smallsat Rideshare program From SpaceX, this is the launch of the East Coast Second Pool in half a century and the first launch of Starlink Pile. Meanwhile, although less certain, the Starship SN9 prototype is preparing for a steady fifth launch attempt – if successful – that could precede a high-altitude launch attempt by just a day or two.
According to the paperwork known as Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) submitted and approved by the FAA, SpaceX targets the first high-altitude launch attempt of Starship SN9 by (NET) on January 20. However, this schedule is very uncertain and is based on a successful static fire Triple Raptor now scheduled for January 19.
Within days, SpaceX quickly removed and replaced two of the three Raptor engines with the SN9 spacecraft after completing (with varying degrees of success) three unprecedented steady fire tests in about hours on January 13th. The replacement motors were almost fully installed by January 16.
This addition to the new engines adds a level of uncertainty to what was already a relatively turbulent steady fire test campaign for the SN9, but if the missile manages to complete full combustion on Tuesday, SpaceX can look at Starship SN9’s results and readiness to determine if it can take place. Wed a quick test flight. As of late Monday, it’s safe to say a wildfire was a success And the Launching in about 48 hours isn’t the most likely outcome.
While it remains significant logistical challenges, the launch of two Falcon 9 orbital missiles and a booster landing in approximately 25 hours is a more likely proposition. Currently, all but one of SpaceX’s seven major missile recovery ships are deployed to support successive booster landings and one or two attempts to recover payload. Stay tuned for updates as we approach all three of SpaceX’s missions.