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Update: No launch day doubleheader for SpaceX's NRO and Starlink launches – Space.com


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By Tariq Malik published 2 February 22
SpaceX is now targeting back-to-back launches instead of two launches in one day.
Update for Feb. 2: Late Tuesday, SpaceX posted two updates on its planned NROL-87 spy satellite launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and the Starlink 4-7 launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
According to those updates, the NROL-87 launch will lift off Feb. 2 as scheduled at 3:18 p.m. EST (12:18 p.m. PST, 2018 GMT). You can watch it live here. But the Starlink 4-7 internet satellite mission is now delayed to to no earlier than Thursday, Feb. 3 (opens in new tab), with liftoff set for 12:51 p.m. EST (1751 GMT). That delay means SpaceX will not attempt to launch two rockets on Feb. 2 within hours of each other. 
SpaceX appears to be targeting Wednesday (Feb. 2) to fly its next batch of Starlink satellites, setting up what could be a coast-to-coast launch doubleheader for the private spaceflight company. 
According to a forecast (opens in new tab) from the U.S. Space Force’s Delta 45 weather squadron, SpaceX’s next Starlink mission (called Starlink 4-7) is now expected to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Wednesday between 4:41 p.m. and 5:01 p.m. EST (2141-2201 GMT). Liftoff is expected to take place at 4:51 p.m. EST (2151 GMT) from Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, according to an update from Spaceflight Now (opens in new tab), which tracks launch schedules. 
While SpaceX has not confirmed the new launch date for the Starlink 4-7 mission, the company was initially targeting a liftoff to occur 24 hours after its most recent launch of the Italian Earth-observation satellite Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2. That mission lifted off Monday night (Jan. 31) from a pad at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station after four days of delays due to weather and a wayward cruise ship. 
Related: The evolution of SpaceX’s rockets in pictures
A Wednesday launch for the Starlink 4-7 mission would come on the heels of yet another Falcon 9 launch by SpaceX, this time from California. The company is currently scheduled to launch a new classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance office from a pad at the Vandenberg Space Force Base
That Vandenberg launch is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex 4E at 3:18 p.m. EST (12:18 p.m. PST or 2018 GMT), just over one hour before the Starlink launch. It will carry the classified NROL-87 satellite into orbit for the NRO.
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Both of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launches are expected to attempt to recover their rockets’ first stages with drone ship or land-based landings. SpaceX successfully recovered the Falcon 9 first stage from Monday’s launch after its flawless touchdown at the company’s Landing Zone 1 pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. 
SpaceX is expected to provide a live webcast of both launches on Wednesday, if they do stick to the same day. The company’s launch webcasts typically begin about 15 minutes before liftoff at its website (opens in new tab) and YouTube channel.
Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us on
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com’s Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.
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Having worked on Entertainment, Technology, and Business for four years, Meenakshi finds solace in technology, and more so in covering it. She has worked with organizations like Hindustan Times and Bracecorp Publications (B2B publication). She loves to read novels, listen to music, and roam around places. She is the responsible person for our editorial lineup. You can reach Meenakshi at editor@thehoopsnews.com.