Starlink-Starliner doubleheader? SpaceX, Boeing Starliner target Monday

Starlink-Starliner doubleheader? SpaceX, Boeing Starliner target Monday
Starlink-Starliner doubleheader? SpaceX, Boeing Starliner target Monday

SpaceX is targeting a Monday morning mission that could create a high-profile Starlink-Starliner launch doubleheader within 11 hours or fewer from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, navigational warnings indicate.

Though SpaceX has not publicly announced this mission, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Coast Guard maritime safety bulletins show a Starlink launch window will open Monday from 11:34 am to 4:05 pm EDT. SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rockets on its Starlink missions deploying satellites into low-Earth orbit.

Hours later, odds of favorable weather should be 95% for Monday’s headline event: the 10:34 pm liftoff of the first crewed Boeing Starliner spacecraft for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

For the latest on both launches, go to floridatoday.com.

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“We are still a few weeks away from our summer thunderstorm season here in East-Central Florida,” Brian Cizek, Space Force 45th Weather Squadron launch weather officer, said Friday during a NASA pre-launch news conference.

“And although we are in a bit of a summer-like pattern with an Atlantic high ridge of pressure in control, we don’t have the moisture and instability that we might have in a June-July-August,” Cizek said.

NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore will lift off inside Starliner on a test-flight trip to the International Space Station atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41.

Monday night’s mission will mark only the sixth time that NASA has flown a new crewed transportation spacecraft, NASA broadcaster Megan Cruz said during the news conference.

“The first time humans have flown on a new spacecraft started with Mercury, then with Gemini, then with Apollo, the space shuttle, then Dragon — and now Starliner,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.

About 26½ hours after liftoff, Williams and Wilmore should dock with the ISS at 12:46 am Wednesday, said Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager.

“Once Butch and Suni are on board, they’ll be there for a little bit over a week. Their primary activities that week are focused on Starliner itself,” said Dana Weigel, NASA’s ISS program manager.

“They’ll put it through its paces. They’ll look at configuration of the emergency equipment in their spacecraft. They’ll also do some other activities that will verify operations that we will ultimately need for some of the longer-duration missions, ” Weigel said.

For the latest news from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, visit floridatoday.com/space.

Rick Neale is a Space Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Neale at [email protected]. Twitter/X: @RickNeale1

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