SpaceX will launch another big batch of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Tuesday (Feb. 28), and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 rocket topped with 51 Starlink spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base on Tuesday at 2:20 p.m. EST (1920 GMT; 11:20 a.m. local California time).
Watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company (opens in new tab). Coverage is expected to start about five minutes before liftoff.
If all goes according to plan, the Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth about 8 minutes and 45 seconds after launch, touching down on the SpaceX droneship Of Course I Still Love You, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
It will be the 12th launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description (opens in new tab). Among the booster’s 11 other missions were Crew-1 and Crew-2, SpaceX’s first operational astronaut flights to the International Space Station for NASA.
The Falcon 9’s upper stage, meanwhile, will continue soaring toward low Earth orbit, ultimately deploying the Starlink satellites there about 15.5 minutes after liftoff.
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Tuesday’s planned mission comes just a day after another Starlink launch: A Falcon 9 lofted 21 Starlink “V2 mini” satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Monday evening (Feb. 27).
The V2 mini is a next-generation variant that’s more capable than older Starlink spacecraft, such as the 51 satellites going up on Tuesday. And V2 minis are bigger than their predecessors as well; they’re small only in relation to the standard V2s, future satellites that are 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 new tab) to orbit, but the megaconstellation will continue to grow far into the future. Elon Musk’s company has permission to loft 12,000 of the spacecraft and has applied for permission to deploy an additional 30,000 as well.
The two Starlink missions are part of a busy week for SpaceX: The company also aims to launch the Crew-6 astronaut mission for NASA early Thursday morning (March 2).
Crew-6 was originally supposed to fly early Monday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but that attempt was scrubbed late in the countdown due to a ground-system issue. Projected bad weather pushed the next attempt to Thursday, provided that issue can be resolved by then.
Tuesday’s Starlink launch from Vandenberg was supposed to fly on Monday as well, but SpaceX pushed it back due to weather concerns. If all had gone according to the original plan, the company would have launched three orbital missions on a single day.