The private spaceflight company SpaceX will launch 60 new Starlink internet satellites to join today’s growing orbiting mega-constellation (Feb.17) and you can watch the action live online.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the fifth batch of Starlink satellites into orbit from the company’s pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. They will set the lift off at 10:05 am EST (GMT:1505).
Watch them launch
You can watch the Starlink launch live starting at about 9:50 a.m. (1450 GMT) EST. You can also watch the SpaceX launch directly here.
SpaceX’s Starlink project uses a mega-constellation of low Earth orbit satellites to provide worldwide connectivity to the high-speed Internet. The company is planning an initial 12,000 satellite fleet, but could provide limited service with 240 satellites and provide decent coverage with 800 satellites, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said.
To date, since mid-2019 (two of those flights in January of this year) SpaceX has launched four batches of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit for 240 satellites, so far. The launch today would raise the number to 300 satellites.
Some astronomers have complained about the impact on astronomy of SpaceX’s mega-constellation Starlink (and others planned by OneWeb and Amazon). SpaceX answers those concerns by studying ways to reduce the reflectivity of its Starlink satellites.
Last week SpaceX attempted to launch this Starlink-4 flight, but bad weather offshore was unfavorable for the mission’s scheduled first stage Falcon 9 rocket landing. SpaceX plans to land the Falcon 9 booster on the drone ship Course I Still Love stationed in the Atlantic Ocean-which had flown three times before.
The two-stage Falcon 9 launched two commercial Dragon resupply missions (CRS-17 in May 2019 and CRS-18 in July), and the JCSAT-18/Kacific1 telecommunications satellite in December.
Touchdown at sea by the Falcon 9 would mark SpaceX’s 50th rocket landing since the company started retrieving boosters.
SpaceX also aims to recover the two halves of the Falcon 9’s clamshell-like payload fairings after the launch today by catching them in giant nets carried on two recovery boat. The GO Ms. Tree and the GO Ms. Chief. Each of the fairings has its parachute, allowing the portion of the rocket to drift down to the Atlantic.
Musk has said that each Falcon 9 payload fairing costs $6 million, so reusing them might be a big saving.