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SpaceX postpones Starlink satellite fleet launch due to Tropical Storm Arthur

SpaceX launches Starlink satellites into orbit.
SpaceX launches Starlink satellites into orbit. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX (opens in new tab) has delayed the launch of its next batch of Starlink (opens in new tab)  internet satellites due to weather fallout from Tropical Storm  Arthur. 

The Starlink flight, which will loft 60 new satellites for SpaceX's growing megaconstellation from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, will now lift off after the company's planned Demo-2 mission on May 27. 

"Standing down from the Starlink mission, due to tropical storm Arthur, until after launch of Crew Demo-2," SpaceX wrote on Twitter today (opens in new tab)

Video: Satellites see Tropical Storm Arthur from space

SpaceX's Demo-2 mission is the company's first crewed flight test of its Dragon capsule for NASA. The mission will launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

SpaceX originally planned to launch the upcoming Starlink mission on Sunday (May 17), but was forced to postpone the flight to Monday after another mission, the U.S. Space Force's launch of an X-37B space plane (opens in new tab), was also delayed by weather over the weekend. 

SpaceX later announced that bad weather conditions from Arthur would push the launch back another to Tuesday, May 19. However, with surface winds expected to reach at least 39 mph (63 km/h), according to the National Hurricane Center (opens in new tab), the launch has been pushed once again until sometime after May 27.

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The company received criticism after the first Starlink launches because astronomers and other scientists cited that the brightness of the satellites, which launch in batches of 60, was interfering with observations. 

SpaceX experimented with painting the satellites with a dark coating but, with this launch, intended to test a new approach, a "sunshade," known as VisorSat, is a set of darkened shades that could deploy to block the sun. By eliminating the sun's bright reflection, the satellites would, in theory, be much less bright and much less visible in the night sky.

In April, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that the company's next launch, would test their new "sunshades," known as the VisorSat, but they did not specify when that launch would be or if it would carry multiple VisorSats, according to SpaceNews (opens in new tab). This upcoming launch will mark SpaceX's eighth Starlink mission. Musk has said that all Starlink satellites would be equipped with sunshades by the ninth Starlink launch.

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Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined Space.com in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.

  • Brian
    This is a 'no brainer'!
    Any problem with the Starlink mission would delay Crew Dragon.

    I'll be here at home whenever it is, watching.
    Reply