2019 was an absolutely packed year for SpaceX. The company launched a whole bunch of missions for its commercial clients, made good progress on its Crew Dragon spacecraft for NASA (and experienced one very unfortunate setback), and began launching its Starlink communications satellites, much to the chagrin of astronomers everywhere.
2020 promises to be just as action-packed, and the company is wasting no time getting its launch schedule back on track with its first launch of the year slated for January 6th. The mission was originally supposed to take place on December 30th, but delays forced SpaceX to push things back a bit.
As Teslarati reports, SpaceX’s drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ was recently spotted being transported to its desired location, where it will act as the floating landing pad for the Falcon 9 after launch.
Saw her passing our cruise ship. Fair winds and calm waters! pic.twitter.com/dje9tVAJmk
— Many Calls and Many Meetings (@maxkalika) December 30, 2019
The mission itself, known as Starlink-2, will be the third of many planned Starlink launches, sending a whopping 60 of SpaceX’s tiny communications satellites into Earth orbit. It’s the second time SpaceX will launch a load of 60 of its satellites at one time.
SpaceX’s grand plans for its Starlink project include dozens of launches per year and thousands of tiny satellites sent into Earth orbit. The satellites, once positioned correctly, will provide a communications network and high-speed data access to parts of the world that currently lack it. It’s going to cost SpaceX billions of dollars to make this all happen, but the eventual payoffs could be enormous.
It sounds great, but not everyone is on board, and many astronomers have been heavily critical of SpaceX’s plan due to its potential impact on Earth-based space observations. We’ve already seen how a group of Starlink satellites can make observing space difficult, but SpaceX has pledged to work with astronomers to find a way to mitigate its impact.