SpaceX launch delayed: Starship SN9 and Starlink launches pushed back amid piling setbacks

SpaceX conduct static fire engine test on Starship SN9

SpaceX is due to deliver the next batch of Starlink satellites into orbit tomorrow (January 20) on the company’s first official flight of 2021. The mission, which is Starlink’s 17th overall flight, will place 60 satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO) and expand Elon Musk’s ambitious internet-beaming constellation. SpaceX fans are, however, growing restless as the mission has already been delayed three times.

The SpaceX launch was originally pencilled in for January 14 but was scrubbed and pushed forward by four days.

A new launch window was scheduled for Monday, January 18, but poor weather in the Falcon 9’s recovery area scuppered the plans.

The next back-up window on Tuesday was scrubbed as well to give SpaceX more time for pre-flight inspections and planning.

SpaceX’s Starlink 16 mission is now due to launch on Wednesday, January 20, at 1.0pm GMT (8.02am EST).

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The Starlink payload will fly aboard the company’s signature Falcon 9 rocket from Launchpad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

The reusable booster stage used on tomorrow’s mission has already been to space seven times, including four Starlink missions and SpaceX’s first demo flight of the Crew Dragon capsule in March 2019.

If the launch goes ahead, it will mark a record eighth flight for the Falcon 9 – more than any other rocket in SpaceX’s fleet.

One fan tweeted: “Will be a hell of a day if you launch Wednesday…”

Another person said: “BOO launch it and see what happens.”

SpaceX fans have been on the edge of their seats all month as well due to the anticipated launch of the Starship Serial Number 9 (SN9).

SN9 is the next iteration of the inter-planetary launch vehicle prototype and is due to launch on its first suborbital flight.

The spaceship will launch more than a month after its previous iteration, the SN8, erupted into a ball of flames when it failed to stick the landing at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in South Texas.

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SpaceX fans are desperate to see the rocket take to the skies but the launch date appears to be slipping through MrMusks’ fingers with each consecutive delay.

Hopes were high the SN9 would fly at the start of last week after a successful wet rehearsal of Starship’s Raptor engines on January 13.

A second, third and fourth test was then carried out on the same day last Wednesday, hinting at a weekend launch.

By Friday, however, Mr Musk said two of SN9’s engines were in need of repairs, further delaying the test flight.

With the engines replaced and flight restrictions issued around Boca Chica beach, fans are expecting SN9 to fly before the week is over.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued restrictions between Tuesday, January 19, and Saturday, 23, although there is no guarantee these two will be cancelled and rescheduled.

One SpaceX fan said: I sometimes have to remind myself that there’s no point getting frustrated about all the delays, @SpaceX wants to launch this as much as I do…”

Another person said: “The whole SN9 thing has been pretty disappointing for the past couple days with the push back and delays.”

Follow Express.co.uk for the latest SpaceX news and Starship launch updates.

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