SpaceX delayed for at least a week the first test launch of their production model Starlink satellites over an unspecified software issue.
Starlink Satellites Remain Earthbound for Now
SpaceX announced on Twitter Thursday evening that the first test launch of production-grade Starlink satellites would be delayed at least a week while the company updates the satellites' software. The company did not say whether there was a specific problem with the satellites, but it seems unlikely that the satellites' software update is a routine one, since it would certainly have been done beforehand if that were the case.
Standing down to update satellite software and triple-check everything again. Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success, next launch opportunity in about a week.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 17, 2019
Musk had said earlier this week that considering this flight is the very first test launch of the production Starlink satellite payload, a lot could go wrong.
Much will likely go wrong on 1st mission. Also, 6 more launches of 60 sats needed for minor coverage, 12 for moderate.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 12, 2019
The payload itself is the heaviest satellite payload SpaceX has ever attempted. The 60 Starlink satellites are "flat-packed" in a Falcon 9 rocket and weight 18.5 tons taken together–each satellite weighs 227 kg or just over 500 lbs–and according to Musk, "each launch of 60 satellites will generate more power than [the International Space Station] & deliver 1 terabit of bandwidth to Earth."
Starlink mission will be heaviest @SpaceX payload ever at 18.5 tons. If all goes well, each launch of 60 satellites will generate more power than Space Station & deliver 1 terabit of bandwidth to Earth.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2019
Musk also said that there would need to be 7 launches of 60 Starlink satellite payloads for the initial activation of the planned Starlink network, with another 12 launches needed to achieve "significant coverage."
6 more launches of 60 🛰 for initial activation, 12 for significant coverage— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2019
For now, Starlink is still earthbound, but next week is another launch window so SpaceX is likely to be as eager as anyone to finally start getting one of Musk's more ambitious projects off the ground.