The latest SpaceX Starlink launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, has been postponed for the third time in three weeks.
Blastoff was originally set for June 26 but was delayed to address technical concerns and then delayed again on Wednesday because of weather that wouldn’t cooperate. Now SpaceX has scrubbed a planned Saturday morning launch to allow more time for technical checkouts.
When it finally gets off the ground, the Falcon 9 rocket will carry a payload that includes the first batch of SpaceX’s broadband satellites equipped with a sunshade to reduce their brightness.
Since Elon Musk’s company began launching the small satellites over a year ago, astronomers and other observers have been surprised and even disturbed by the amount of sunlight the orbiting routers reflect, often interfering with scientific observations.
Musk and SpaceX have been working with major astronomical organizations on the problem and have pledged to fix the issue as they ramp up plans to launch tens of thousands of the satellites in the coming years.
Are SpaceX Starlink satellites ruining the night sky?
Initially, SpaceX tried launching a so-called “darksat,” which was essentially a Starlink satellite with a dark coating, but the results from this approach were mixed. Next the company developed and tested a deployable sunshade that it calls VisorSat.
One VisorSat-equipped satellite was launched earlier this month to test the new tech, and the next launch will carry the first batch of satellites to be fully shaded.
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A June 30 Falcon 9 rocket launch carried aloft a new GPS satellite for the US military. That was followed by the first SpaceX landing after sending a military satellite to space.
Once we have a new launch date, we’ll be sure to update this story.