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Bad weather delays SpaceX launch of Starlink, BlackSky satellites

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 57 Starlink internet satellites and two BlackSky Global Earth-imaging satellites stands atop its Pad 39A launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida on July 8, 2020.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 57 Starlink internet satellites and two BlackSky Global Earth-imaging satellites stands atop its Pad 39A launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida on July 8, 2020.
(Image: © Amy Thompson/Space.com)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX stood down from the planned launch of dozens of Starlink internet satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket today (July 8) due to poor weather conditions at its Florida launch site. 

The California-based rocket builder planned to launch 57 iStarlink satellites along with two BlackSky Global Earth-observing satellites as part of a rideshare mission at 11:59 a.m. EDT (1559 GMT). But 11 minutes before liftoff, SpaceX announced via Twitter that it was standing down. A new launch date and time still needs to be confirmed with the Eastern Range, the entity that oversees all launches along the East Coast. 

"Standing down from today's mission due to weather; proceeding through the countdown until T-1 for data collection. Will announce a new target launch date once confirmed on the Range," SpaceX wrote on Twitter.

Related: SpaceX's Starlink satellite megaconstellation launches in photos

The Falcon 9, a veteran with four flights under its belt, was poised to make its fifth trip to space after launching two Starlink flights earlier this year as well as SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon test flight and a trio of Earth-observing satellites for Canada in 2019. The BlackSky Global satellites are flying as part of a rideshare deal booked with SpaceX by Spaceflight, a brokerage service that helps small satellites find rides to space. 

Today's mission delay is the second for this Starlink/BlackSky launch as the rocket was originally slated to takeoff on June 26. The company chose to postpone that first attempt in order to conduct more preflight checks. 

The company opted to move forward with the launch of an upgraded GPS satellite, which got off the ground as planned on June 30. That mission, originally scheduled to fly in April, had been moved back because of concerns with the safety amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Forecasters at the U.S. Space Force's 45th Space Wing's weather squadron only predicted a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions going into today’s launch attempt. That's because Florida thunderstorms tend to form in the afternoon and today was no exception, with thick clouds and the potential for triggered lightning being the reason for the delay. 

Conditions at the launch site are expected to improve later in the week, with odds of launching increasing to 70% favorable on Friday (July 10). A new date and time should be announced soon. 

The mission will mark the tenth Starlink mission to date for SpaceX as well as the eighth such mission of 2020. 

Follow Amy Thompson on Twitter @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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