After adverse weather conditions over Florida, this time it was satellite software issues that forced SpaceX to cancel for the second time in the night from Thursday to Friday, the takeoff of the first mission Starlink. The goal was to place 60 satellites of 227 kilos at low altitude (440 km).
This mission is intended to set up a space network capable of providing a broadband internet connection in uncovered areas. Currently, 5 billion people in the world do not have a satisfactory internet access.
On the night of Wednesday to Thursday, just minutes from the ignition of the engines, operations were stopped and pushed back to the next night, between Thursday 16 and Friday, May 17 at 4:30 (Paris time). Engineers at California's Elon Musk space company had detected high-altitude winds and preferred to delay the mission.
For this second test in the night from Thursday to Friday, the takeoff was also interrupted. There, it seems that computer problems have been detected.
Space X is now planning the launch next week, time to update the satellite software.
Standing down to satellite update software and triple-check everything again. Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success, next launch opportunity in a week.
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 17, 2019
These satellites are placed in the cap of the Falcon 9 rocket, the classic SpaceX launcher with a first stage to be recovered at the end of the maneuver as in September 2018 with the mission Telstar 18 Vantage and in January 2019 with Iridium 8 .
A race to the global internet coverage
However, the placement of these 60 satellites in space will still be insufficient to turn on the network. Space X has six other equivalent launches to enable the network with 420 satellites.
But for Elon Musk, to have a "significant coverage", it will be necessary to double this constellation. It should take several years.
In this race for global internet coverage where we also find other actors like Amazon, the stakes are considerable. Elon Musk hopes to earn between 3 to 5% of the world market, about 26 billion euros. An amount that must partly be able to finance the launch of future rockets and missions to Mars.