Tonight’s launch marks the second time SpaceX will try to fly the Transporter-2 mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The SpaceX launch was originally pencilled in to blast off on Tuesday evening but was abruptly scrubbed at the last moment. With just 11 seconds left on the countdown clock, the launch was called off after an aircraft appeared in the no-fly zone surrounding the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk confirmed the scrub on Twitter, venting his frustrations about the incident.
In a brief but brutal tirade, he hinted at spaceflight regulations hindering humanity’s progress towards becoming a spacefaring civilisation.
Mr Musk has clashed with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the past, claiming the regulatory body was limiting the company’s progress.
He tweeted yesterday: “Unfortunately, launch is called off for today, as an aircraft entered the ‘keep out zone’, which is unreasonably gigantic.
SpaceX launch Dragon’s second operational crew mission
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“There is simply no way that humanity can become a spacefaring civilisation without major regulatory reform. The current regulatory system is broken.”
But the good news is the launch looks good to go ahead and the launch window will open in about an hour.
The mission marks SpaceX’s second under the SmallSat Rideshare Program from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral station.
SpaceX added: “This mission also marks SpaceX’s second launch to a polar orbit from Florida.”
The 88 satellites will fly today atop a Falcon 9 rocket over Florida’s eastern coast and Atlantic Ocean.
How to watch the SpaceX launch live online:
Courtesy of SpaceX, you can watch the launch from start to finish in the embedded video player above.
SpaceX’s launch window will open at 7.56pm BST (2.56pm EDT) and the webcast will begin about 15 minutes before liftoff.
About eight-and-a-half minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 booster will return to Earth and attempt a soft landing.
SpaceX’s rockets typically land on unmanned drone ships in the Ocean, so tonight’s flight marks a departure from that tradition.
The launch also marks SpaceX’s 20th launch of the year, which have so far included resupply and crew missions to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Falcon 9 will carry a total of 88 satellites, 85 of which belong to private and government enterprises.
These include CubeSats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles.
The Transporter-2 payload also includes three Starlink satellites that will join SpaceX’s growing Starlink constellation.
SpaceX said: “While there are fewer spacecraft on board compared to Transporter-1, this mission is actually launching more mass to orbit for SpaceX’s customers.”
Mr Musk has recently revealed his ambitious Starlink project could be ready to go global – minus the polar regions – in August.
SpaceX has already launched more than 1,800 Starlink satellites into orbit but the company aims to launch anywhere between 12,000 and 42,000 over the coming years.
The South African billionaire tweeted: “All 72 orbital planes activate in August, plus many other improvements, enabling global coverage, except for polar regions, which will take another six months.”
A SpaceX executive previously hinted at Starlink’s service going global in September.
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