SpaceX is preparing to launch another batch of satellites for the Starlink Internet network from Florida’s Space Coast as soon as April 16, a sign that launch operations at Cape Canaveral could continue at a reduced pace amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
The launch next week is also set to occur weeks after a major competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink network filed for bankruptcy.
The mission is set for launch at around 5:31 p.m. EDT (2131 GMT) next Thursday, April 16, from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Warning notices released to mariners have been released suggesting the launch is scheduled next week. The mission will mark the 84th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010, and SpaceX’s seventh launch so far this year.
The flight will also be the ninth launch from Cape Canaveral in 2020.
The military-run Eastern Range, which supports launch operations at Cape Canaveral, remains open amid the coronavirus pandemic. But some missions are facing delays, including at least two SpaceX launches that were planned for March 30 and April 29.
The launch of Argentina’s SAOCOM 1B radar observation satellite was planned March 30 from Cape Canaveral, but Argentine officials ordered a postponement due to travel and work restrictions associated with the pandemic.
The U.S. Space Force confirmed Tuesday that the next launch of a GPS navigation satellite — previously planned April 29 on a Falcon 9 rocket — would be delayed two months until no earlier than June 30 to ensure launch crews would not be exposed to the COVID-19 viral disease.
CNBC reported Monday that six SpaceX employees have tested positive for the coronavirus. SpaceX has not responded to multiple requests for information about the company’s measures to combat the spread of the virus.