Starlink 6 launch slated for tomorrow

A Falcon 9 lifts off from Launchpad 40 at Cape Canaveral. Image Credit: SpaceX

April 21, 2020–Yesterday afternoon, SpaceX announced that they were moving the Starlink 6 launch up a day to tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22 at 3:37 p.m., or 19:37 UTC.

Starlink 6 is the sixth operational Starlink launch and the seventh launch with 60 satellites. Launching from launchpad 39A, there is a booster return-to-launch-site scheduled 8 minutes 35 seconds after launch.

There will be no in-person viewing guide for this launch due to the current global circumstances, but the launch will be watchable live on SpaceX’s YouTube or at https://www.spacex.com/webcast.

Starlink is SpaceX’s revolutionary new satellite broadband service. Providing communication with efficiency and latency rivaling that of land-based systems, Starlink is a constellation of originally 1,584 satellites, but up to 12,000 in further revisions slated to occupy the 450-kilometer low earth orbit.

Starlink has not been without scrutiny though, and many in the astronomy community, including the International Astronomical Union (IAU), have warned of dire consequences. The current 360 Starlink satellites are already notorious for dramatically flaring in rows, ruining astronomical surveys and greatly outshining anything in their area. While on the Starlink 3 launch, one satellite had a special coating SpaceX claims should have mitigated this, that still now leaves 419 satellites disrupting astronomy. On top of that, the “DarkSat” that was coated had only a 55% reflectivity improvement, which was not enough for most astronomy. The extreme radio bubble that Starlink will create around Earth will also jeopardize certain projects like the Event Horizon Telescope, which famously captured the first image of a black hole in 2019.

This is Space Scout at T- 25 hours. Go Starlink, Go Falcon 9, Go SpaceX.

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