CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX will launch a new set of Starlink internet satellites into space on Wednesday (April 28) and you can watch it all live online.
The Hawthorne, California-based company will load a full stack of 60 Starlink satellites on its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, which will blast off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station here in Florida at 11:44 p.m. EDT (0344 April 29 GMT).
Wednesday’s late-night flight, called Starlink 24, is the 12th mission of 2021 and the company’s 25th overall flight for the burgeoning internet service.
SpaceX’s goal is to provide high-speed internet access to users around the world through its Starlink megaconstellation. The service will be especially helpful for those in rural or remote areas that have little-to-no connectivity.
To date, SpaceX has launched more than the 1,440 satellites it needed to fill it’s initial planned The company has already been extensively testing the space-based internet service, and plans to do a full commercial rollout later this year.
Prospective users can pay a small deposit sign up for the service now, via the company’s website. However, it could be a few months before the actual service becomes available.
This launch will mark the 115th flight overall for SpaceX’s 229-foot-tall (70 meters) Falcon 9 booster. The booster for this mission is a six-time veteran Falcon 9 first stage, designated B1060. This frequent flyer has carried an upgraded GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force, a communications satellite for Turkey as well as five Starlink missions so far.
If all goes as planned, approximately nine minutes after liftoff B1060 will touch down on one of SpaceX’s two drone ships — “Just Read the Instructions.” If successful, it will mark the 81st recovery of a first stage booster since the company landed its first booster in December 2015.
The weather outlook looks good for Wednesday’s overnight liftoff, with forecasters at the 45th Weather Squadron predicting a 80% chance of favorable launch conditions. The only issue of concern is liftoff winds. (There is a backup day if necessary on Thursday and the weather looks just as promising.)
SpaceX will continue its tradition of recovering the Falcon 9’s payload fairing, or nose cone, on today’s mission, scooping up the fairings after they fall back to Earth in two pieces.
In an effort to reuse more of its rocket, SpaceX outfitted each piece of the protective hardware with navigation software and a parachute system to guide itself back to Earth for a soft water landing.
The newest member of SpaceX’s recovery fleet, the Shelia Bordelon, will be onsite at the recovery zone to retrieve the fairings from the ocean.
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