SpaceX plans to launch another large batch of its Starlink internet satellites into orbit on Thursday (March 2), and you can watch the event live.
A Falcon 9 rocket topped with 51 Starlink spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California today (March 2) in 1:52 p.m. EST (1852 GMT; 10:52 a.m. California local time).
That timeline has shifted right, as has SpaceX Was targeting Tuesday (February 28th) (Opens in a new tab) For take-off. The company it seems Move the launch to Thursday (Opens in a new tab) To break up conflicts with launch preparatory work scheduled for early Thursday for the Crew-6 astronaut mission from Florida.
You can watch the Starlink launch live here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company (Opens in a new tab). Coverage is expected to begin about five minutes before take-off.
Related: 10 strange things about SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites
If all goes according to plan, the Falcon 9 first stage will return to Earth about 8 minutes and 45 seconds after launch Thursday, landing aboard the SpaceX Of Course I Still Love You drone, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
This will be the 12th launch and landing of this special booster, according to SpaceX mission description (Opens in a new tab). Among the 11 other crane missions were Crew-1 and Crew-2, SpaceX’s first operational astronaut flights to NASA’s International Space Station.
In the meantime, the Falcon 9 upper stage will continue to climb toward low Earth orbit, eventually deploying the Starlink satellites there about 15.5 minutes after liftoff.
Thursday’s planned mission comes just days after another Starlink launch: a Falcon 9 blasted off 21 Starlink “V2 mini” satellites from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral in Florida Monday evening (February 27).
The V2 mini is a more capable next-generation variant of the older Starlink spacecraft, as 51 satellites will lift off Thursday. And V2 minis are larger than their predecessors, too; It’s only small relative to standard V2s, future satellites designed to launch aboard SpaceX’s giant Starship Mars rocket, which is still in development.
SpaceX has already launched More than 4,000 Starlink satellites (Opens in a new tab) in orbit, but the giant planets will continue to grow far into the future. Elon Musk’s company has permission for the upper deck of 12,000 of the spacecraft and has applied for approval to deploy an additional 30,000 as well.
The two Starlink missions are part of a busy week for SpaceX, given that it’s also working to send Crew-6 toward the NASA space station at 12:34 a.m. EDT (0534 GMT) Thursday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Crew-6 was originally supposed to fly early Monday, but that attempt was canceled late in the countdown due to a ground system problem. Expected bad weather pushed the next attempt to Thursday.
Thursday’s Starlink launch was supposed to fly from Vandenberg on Monday as well, but SpaceX held it back due to weather concerns. If all had gone according to the original plan, the company would have launched three orbital missions in one day.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 12:25 PM EST on February 28 with the new launch date of March 1 for the Starlink mission, and then again at 3:15 PM EST on March 1 with the new target date of March 2 .
Mike Wall is the author of “outside (Opens in a new tab)Book (Major Grand Publishers, 2018; illustration by Carl Tate), a book about the search for aliens. Follow him on Twitter @employee (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @employee (Opens in a new tab) or Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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