Barring delays, SpaceX appears to be on track to launch a batch of 60 Starlink satellites and conduct a fifth high-altitude Starship flight test a few hours apart on Tuesday, May 4.
At around 1 a.m. on May 3, SpaceX successfully completed a wet dress rehearsal (WDR) and static fire test with the Falcon 9 B1049 booster, an expandable top stage, and the last stack of Starlink satellites. About eight hours later, as usual, SpaceX confirmed via social media that the test was a success and that its 25th Starlink Operational Mission is expected to launch no earlier than 3:01 p.m. EDT (7:01 p.m. UTC) on Tuesday. May 4. .
Simultaneously, after a handful of delays, SpaceX also appears to be on track to attempt the first spacecraft launch with “hundreds of upgrades” between ~ 1 p.m. and ~ 8 p.m. CDT (6 p.m. to 1 a.m. 00 UTC) the same Tuesday.
Starlink-25 will be SpaceX’s second daylight launch of the Falcon 9 in months – rare recently due to the arcane specifics of the constellation’s orbital mechanics. In addition to generally offering a much better view of the launch, Starlink-25’s launch target at 3:01 p.m. EDT means that Falcon 9 and Starship SN15 could technically be launched at exactly the same time in Florida and Texas.
While it is unlikely that SpaceX will actually allow really simultaneous launches and not sure if such a thing is even possible, it is possible that SpaceX could launch Starship SN15 at some point within ~ 50 minutes Starlink-25 will be quietly in orbit. More likely, however, SpaceX will use Starship SN15’s eight-hour window and wait for Starlink-25 to complete unless some kind of encroaching weather system reduces that window to a few hours.
This still means that Starlink-25 and Starship SN15 could launch within six hours of each other, although the experimental rocket prototype is much more likely to experience minor delays and push that gap to a day or two. . Moreover, SpaceX itself warns that it “keeps an eye on the weather in the [Starlink-25] recovery zone ”, which means that conditions at sea could also delay the launch of Starlink by a day or two.
Ultimately, it seems likely that both rockets will be launched before the end of the week. Stay tuned for how ‘back to back’ they will be.