A new batch of Starlink satellites will head to orbit Friday morning from Vandenberg Space Force Base for third time this year.
Liftoff will occur at 11:12 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base. If needed, a backup opportunity would see the rocket blast off at 10:58 a.m. Saturday.
Space Exploration Technologies intends to send up another set of Starlink spacecraft as the firm continues expanding its system to provide internet access around the world, including remote areas where service isn’t available or reliable.
The mission initially aimed for a Wednesday departure but was delayed for an unknown reason.
The firm usually has an instantaneous window, not a time span, to get its Starlink missions off the ground so the spacecraft are placed where needed in space.
Notices to mariners and pilots have been re-issued for a Friday launch of a SpaceX rocket.
More than 3,800 Starlink satellites have launched from both coasts for the system SpaceX says will require approximately 30,000 spacecraft.
Starlink availability has slowly been added to various regions across the planet, mostly recently Iceland.
In December, SpaceX claimed Starlink had more than 1 million active subscribers. Several of those users live in Santa Barbara County.
This will be the fourth launch overall in 2023 from Vandenberg, with three involving the Falcon rocket and the fourth being a Minuteman III missile test with a mock warhead.
For Starlink missions, SpaceX typically plans to land the first-stage booster on a droneship, dubbed “Of Course I Still Love You,” positioned in the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles from the Central Coast.
That means residents in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties won’t hear the sonic booms that accompany a first-stage return to land at Vandenberg.
The booster set to fly Friday has previously delivered two NASA spacecraft and six Starlink missions.
Recycling a rocket’s first-stage booster, typically one of most costly components, allows the firm to reduce the time between missions and trim costs to customers.
Vandenberg has restricted access, but several locations around the Lompoc Valley provide views of the launch and landing sites, which are south of West Ocean Avenue (Highway 246).
The locations include west of Lompoc, the peak of Harris Grade Road, and near the intersection of Moonglow and Stardust roads. Providence Landing Park, at 699 Mercury Ave. in Vandenberg Village, also is a popular gathering spot along with West Ocean Avenue west of the Lompoc’s city limits.
A live broadcast of the mission can be found about five minutes before the launch time on the SpaceX website or its YouTube channel.