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SpaceX postpones Starlink launch as thick clouds persist

Science Desk || shiningbd

Published: 20:55, 28 September 2020   Update: 10:32, 30 September 2020
SpaceX postpones Starlink launch as thick clouds persist

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands ready to launch another cluster of the company`s Starlink satellites

SpaceX postponed a launch of 60 Starlink communications satellites Monday from Florida due to thick clouds above the launch pad.

"You can notice on your screen above Falcon nine, we are looking at some pretty cloudy skies," said Alex Siegel, a senior material planner at SpaceX, just before the launch scrub was announced.

Siegel said SpaceX doesn't have a new launch date for Starlink, but it does plan to launch a GPS satellite for the U.S. military from Florida on Tuesday.

The Starlink mission liftoff had been planned at 10:22 a.m. EDT from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX also had called off an attempt to launch the same satellites on Sept. 17 due to problems anticipated for recovering the first-stage booster in the Atlantic Ocean.

The successful launch of the 60 satellites would boost the Starlink total in orbit to well over 700.

More Starlink satellites have been launched, but at least 27 of them have deorbited and burned up, according to astronomers.

While the company increases the number of spacecraft in orbit, it also is testing the system with hundreds of Internet users in North America, according to documents SpaceX has filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

The service has "super-low latency and download speeds greater than 100 Mbps," megabits per second, Kate Tice, a senior program reliability engineer at SpaceX, said during a Starlink launch Sept. 3.

Such speeds are considered sufficient for multiplayer gaming, and SpaceX recently described the speed in a tweet as "fast enough to stream multiple HD movies at once and still have bandwidth to spare."

Users testing the system have dish-shaped antennas that look like a "UFO on a stick" according to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk. Initial results of testing are good, Tice said.

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