Officers say that SpaceX’s first mission for the Space Force – additionally the corporate’s second upgraded GPS III satellite tv for pc launch – has been considerably delayed by the USA’ rising coronavirus outbreak.
Solely not too long ago folded into the Space Force, Space, and Missile Systems Center (SMC) press launch mentioned the choice in higher element, confirming that the middle itself has chosen to delay SpaceX’s GPS III SV03 launch. As an alternative of a technical fault or points processing the rocket or satellite tv for pc, SMC is delaying the launch to “reduce the potential of COVID-19 publicity to the launch crew and early-orbit operators,” probably referring to any mixture of Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, or SpaceX staff.
That is now the second SpaceX launch to be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic after the Argentinian authorities’ strict response power its area company (CONAE) to postpone its SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite launch. Considered a unique manner, SpaceX’s subsequent two business (non-Starlink) launches have every been delayed a month or two. Nonetheless, it’s cheap to imagine that these delays are kind of indefinite, provided that they each seem like contingent upon the tip of the US’ coronavirus outbreak.
Consequently, it’s trying more and more doubtless that SpaceX’s subsequent two or three Falcon 9 launches will all be inside Starlink missions, carrying a number of extra batches of 60 communications satellites into orbit. SpaceX’s subsequent Starlink mission – the seventh total – is anticipated to launch no sooner than April, seemingly within the second half of the month. Because of SpaceX’s extremely profitable Starlink manufacturing facility, at the least one other two further batches of satellites are prepared or practically prepared for launch, ready their flip for a Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX’s fleet of flight-confirmed rockets has quickly diminished after two boosters failed their landing attempts in February and March 2020, making it considerably more durable to assist an aggressive Starlink launch cadence. Excluding two Falcon Heavy Block 5 aspect boosters flown in April and June 2019, SpaceX’s fleet is now down to a few boosters: B1049, B1051, and B1059.