SpaceX will launch another big batch of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit and land a rocket on a ship at sea on Tuesday (Aug. 9), and you can watch the action live.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with 53 Starlink spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday at 6:57 p.m. EDT (2257 GMT). Watch it here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company (opens in new tab). Coverage is expected to begin about 10 minutes before liftoff.
There’s a 70% chance that the weather will be good enough for liftoff to proceed, according to a U.S. Space Force forecast.
If all goes according to plan, about nine minutes after launch, the Falcon 9’s first stage will come back to Earth for a vertical landing on the SpaceX droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.
The Falcon 9 upper stage, meanwhile, will continue powering its way to low Earth orbit, where it will eventually deploy the Starlink satellites about an hour after liftoff.
Starlink is SpaceX’s internet megaconstellation, which beams broadband service to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Elon Musk’s company has already launched more than 2,950 Starlink satellites (opens in new tab) to orbit, but many more will likely go up; SpaceX has permission to loft 12,000 of the craft and has applied for approval to launch 30,000 more on top of that.
Tuesday evening’s launch will be the company’s 21st Starlink mission of 2022 and its 35th orbital flight of the year overall, adding to a SpaceX record. The company’s previous mark for most orbital missions in a year was 31, set in 2021.
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Rocket reuse is a big priority for SpaceX, which views it as a breakthrough that will help make Mars colonization feasible.
The Falcon 9 first stage that’s flying on Tuesday already has two spaceflights under its belt, according to EverydayAstronaut.com (opens in new tab). That’s impressive, but it’s far from the SpaceX record; three different Falcon 9 boosters have launched 13 orbital missions to date.