SpaceX remains hard at work, and the sixth batch of Starlink satellites will be launched next week with the help of a Falcon 9 rocket. Due to current concerns related to COVID-19, a skeleton crew and social distancing measures will be used.
The launch is scheduled to take place at the Kennedy Space Center on April 16. A press interview was offered by the commander of the 45th Space Wing, which is responsible for the Florida space coast ranges after a controversy. A previous announcement released by the U.S. Space Force mentioned that the launch of a GPS3 satellite had been delayed to minimize potential COVID-19, and the press argued that all launches should be delayed.
According to the commander, the current schedule is being analyzed and altered on a case-by-case basis. The Starlink launch can take without problems even if a small crew is used, while a national security mission is more complicated.
SpaceX and its Starlink satellites
At the same time, the payload carried by the Falcon 9 rocket is owned by a private enterprise, and government personnel will not participate.
Falcon-9 rockets are also fitted with an autonomous flight safety system. A built-in computer and security protocol will trigger a self-destruct mechanism if any risks to life or property will be detected, a feat that also reduces the number of people who have to oversee the flight.
Reporters asked why the launch is so important that it cannot be delayed for a few months, but the commander stated that he could not answer in the name of SpaceX. However, it helps with the morale at the space center as people can remain focused on active tasks and don’t lose their edge. It is also important to keep the number of delayed launches as low as possible to avoid schedule overlaps and extensive delays that could compromise essential projects.