SpaceX satellite broadband test launch delayed to Thursday

It will be at least one more day before Elon Musk's planned "Starlink" global internet service gets off the ground aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

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Eric Mack
2 min read

A Falcon 9 with satellites aboard awaits launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base.


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying two test satellites for a global broadband service envisioned by CEO Elon Musk will remain grounded at Vandenberg Air Force base in California until at least Thursday.

The launch scheduled for 6:17 a.m. PT Wednesday was called off about 10 minutes before blastoff due to strong high-altitude winds and was postponed exactly 24 hours.

Musk publicly acknowledged the existence of the prototype satellites, named Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, for the first time via Twitter about an hour before the scheduled launch time Wednesday, although they had been previously revealed by filings with the Federal Communications Commission.

The Falcon 9's main payload is the Spanish Earth-imaging satellite Paz, but most of the public interest in this launch has centered on the pair of smaller satellites, which will serve as a test for Musk's long-term vision of huge satellite constellations in low orbit blanketing the globe with broadband.

Today, most satellite internet customers are served by a handful of satellites in high geostationary orbit, but SpaceX's proposed "Starlink" service would instead deploy more than 10,000 smaller satellites at much lower altitudes to provide connectivity that would rival terrestrial ISPs.

There are no plans to recover the Falcon 9's booster, which was previously flown on a mission in August and recovered to be recycled. SpaceX may also debut a new boat that Musk announced after the launch of the Falcon Heavy earlier this month. It's basically a boat carrying a large net to attempt to catch the fairing, which is the nose cone that protects the payload during ascent.

The launch was originally scheduled for Saturday but was postponed to Sunday and then to Wednesday to do additional checks of the rocket's systems and the newly upgraded fairing.

You can return to this page Thursday morning to watch the launch below:

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