Oct 7, 2020

SpaceX Gets Back On Track With A Stunning Starlink Launch Near Sunrise

SpaceX has been trying to get its twelfth batch of operational Starlink satellites into orbit for a while.

The company's first attempt on September 28 was scrubbed due to thick clouds over the launch site at Kennedy Space Center. A second attempt on October 1 got to within 18 seconds of launching before a ground systems issue delayed the launch. Finally, having addressed that issue, poor weather on Monday morning forced yet another delay.

But the fourth time proved the charm for SpaceX on Tuesday morning, as the company's Falcon 9 rocket got its payload of 60 Starlink satellites off the pad and into space shortly after the Sun rose over the Florida coast. With Tuesday's mission, SpaceX has now launched 775 total Starlink satellites, although most of the original 60 prototype satellites have since been de-orbited.

Our photographer on the scene in Florida, Trevor Mahlmann, set up his shot such that he was able to capture the rocket ascending into space as its traversed across the face of the Sun. In the resulting image, the launch shockwaves are especially pronounced.After weeks of scrubs due to weather and technical issues in Florida, both at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, it was nice to see rockets flying again.

There should be plenty more to come. United Launch Alliance has yet to reschedule the launch of its NROL-44 mission on a Delta IV Heavy rocket, but it should take place later this month. And SpaceX also has a busy October manifest, with the GPS III mission due to be rescheduled, possibly another Starlink launch, the NASA Crew-1 mission on Halloween, and a previously undisclosed launch for the National Reconnaissance Office now scheduled for October 25.

Listing image by Trevor Mahlmann for Ars.

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