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Conditions look favorable for the Space Coast’s next slate of back-to-back launches flying from both Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station this week.
If schedules hold, SpaceX is up first at KSC’s pad 39A with yet another batch of Starlink internet satellites set for liftoff between 6:10 am and 7:10 am ET Wednesday, May 18. The Space Force on Monday said conditions should be 80% “go” for that liftoff of a Falcon 9 rocket.
“Southerly winds will keep temperatures elevated in Central Florida and allow daily sea breeze interactions to produce isolated showers and thunderstorms each afternoon and evening,” Space Launch Delta 45 forecasters said. “On Tuesday and Wednesday, the remnants of the boundary will stall mostly north of the Space Coast, but add ingredients to enhance the shower and thunderstorm coverage and intensity.”
This will mark the company’s 48th launch for the internet constellation and, along a northeast trajectory, include a drone ship landing in the Atlantic Ocean.
About 36 hours after Falcon 9, United Launch Alliance is up next on the Eastern Range. An Atlas V rocket outfitted with a Boeing Starliner capsule will fly the company’s second attempt at autonomously reaching the International Space Station without crew aboard after a 2019 version failed and had to return to Earth ahead of schedule.
Conditions should be 70% “go” for the 6:54 pm ET Thursday liftoff from the Cape’s Launch Complex 41.
“For (rollout of the rocket) on Wednesday, mainly dry conditions are forecast with only a small chance, less than 20%, of a shower or thunderstorm in the afternoon as the Atlantic sea breeze develops and moves inland,” forecasters said Monday. “Similar conditions are expected on Thursday with isolated afternoon activity expected to develop near or just west of the launch complex.”
If all goes according to plan, Atlas V will boost Starliner to orbit, where it will fly toward and dock with the ISS. After a yet-to-be announced period attached to the outpost, Starliner will undock and return for landing at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
Both Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon were selected by NASA to return astronauts to the ISS after the space shuttle program ended in 2011. SpaceX has flown five crews since 2020, while Boeing expects to fly its first this year if Thursday’s launch goes well.
Boeing’s mission is also known as Orbital Flight Test 2, or OFT-2.
For the latest, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
Contact Emre Kelly at email@example.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.
Launch Wednesday, May 18
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: 48th Starlink launch
- Launch Time: 6:10 am to 7:10 am ET
- Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
- Trajectory: Northeast
- Landing: Drone ship
- Weather: 80% “go”
Visit floridatoday.com/space at 5 am EDT Wednesday, May 18, for real-time updates and video of Falcon 9’s launch.
Launch Thursday, May 19
- Rocket: United Launch Alliance Atlas V
- Mission: Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test 2
- Launch Time: 6:54 pm EDT
- Launch Complex: 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
- Trajectory: Northeast
- Weather: 70% “go”
Visit floridatoday.com/space at 5 pm EDT Thursday, May 19, for real-time updates and video of Atlas V’s launch.