In preparation for the first of up to five Starlink launches scheduled for July, a SpaceX drone ship has sailed out to sea. On July 2, the drone ship Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) was hauled away from Port Canaveral, Florida, moving SpaceX’s preparations for its first launch in the second half of 2022. For SpaceX’s 49th dedicated Starlink launch, a semi-autonomous modified barge is expected to help the recovery of the Falcon 9 rocket from the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) LC-40 pad is scheduled to launch Starlink 4-21, another batch of roughly 53 Starlink V1.5 satellites, no earlier than (NET) 9 am EDT (13:00 UTC), give or take, on Thursday, July 7. This is after a few delays and a pad change, according to launch photographer Ben Cooper.
If successful, the mission would be the drone ship JRTI’s 37th attempt to recover a Falcon booster and its 34th straight successful booster landing since January 2017. Falcon 9 B1058 will launch with Starlink 4-21 later this week, becoming the second booster to try a 13th orbital-class launch and landing, and perhaps joining it intact. On June 17th, Falcon 9 B1060 became the first liquid rocket booster to complete 13 flights.
Off we go 🚀 pic.twitter.com/HT2PTd6cVm
— Gav Cornwell 🚢🚀 (@SpaceOffshore) July 2, 2022
After SpaceX and NASA delayed a Dragon launch from the same pad, the first of up to five Starlink missions apparently scheduled for July was initially scheduled to fly from Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A pad as early as June 26th. Later, SpaceX decided to transfer Starlink 4-21 to LC-40 and push the launch date back to July 7th, presumably in order to make room on Pad 39A for the delayed Dragon’s new mid-July launch goal.
Since December 2021, LC-40 hasn’t had more than three weeks of downtime between launches with to SpaceX’s nonstop launch schedule during the first half of 2022. Additionally, it permitted simultaneous launches on June 19 and 29, which helped to account for Starlink 4-21’s 10-day delay.
LHA map for #Starlink Group 4-21 from CCSFS SLC-40 NET 07 Jul ~13:00 UTC, alternatively 08 to 13 Jul based on NOTMAR/NOTAMs. B1058.13 planned landing with roughly estimated fairing recovery approx. 664km downrange. Stage2 debris reentry in eastern Pacific. https://t.co/k5TDPYtLzA pic.twitter.com/868M8AuUec
— Raul (@Raul74Cz) July 3, 2022
In July, LC-40 won’t find any peace either. When Cargo Dragon’s postponed CRS-25 space station resupply mission takes off around July 14th, according to Next Spaceflight, SpaceX plans to launch Starlink 4-22 and 4-25 from LC-40 or Pad 39A soon after. According to reports, SpaceX will start launching a brand-new batch of polar-orbiting Starlink satellites from the West Coast on July 10 with Starlink 3-1 and, while being improbable given the first mission’s recent delays, Starlink 3-2, before the end of the month.