SpaceX plans to launch another large batch of its Starlink Internet satellites into orbit on Thursday (March 2), and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 51 Starlink spacecraft is set to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California today (March 2). 1:52 PM EST (1852 GMT; 10:52 AM local California time).
That timeline has shifted to the right to SpaceX Targeted on Tuesday (Feb 28). (opens in new tab) for lifting. Company apparently Release moved to Thursday (opens in new tab) to conflict with preparations for the planned early Thursday liftoff of the Crew-6 space shuttle from Florida.
You can watch the Starlink launch live here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or Directly through the company (opens in new tab). Coverage is expected to begin five minutes before departure.
Related: 10 Weird Things About SpaceX’s Starlink Internet Satellites
If all goes according to plan, the Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth 8 minutes and 45 seconds after liftoff Thursday, touching down with the SpaceX droneship off course I Still Love You stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
Step one is the 12th launch and landing for this particular booster SpaceX mission description (opens in new tab). The booster’s other 11 missions include Crew-1 and Crew-2, SpaceX’s first operational space flights to the International Space Station for NASA.
The Falcon 9’s upper stage, meanwhile, will continue to climb toward low Earth orbit, eventually deploying the Starlink satellites there 15.5 minutes after liftoff.
Thursday’s planned mission comes days after another Starlink launch: a Falcon 9 carrying 21 Starlink “V2 mini” satellites from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Monday evening (Feb. 27).
The V2 Mini is a next-generation variant with more capacity than the older Starlink spacecraft, such as the 51 satellites that will go up on Jupiter. And the V2 Minis are bigger than their predecessors; They are small only in relation to the standard V2s, future satellites designed to be launched on 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) orbit, but the galaxy will continue to grow in the future. Elon Musk’s company has received approval to lift 12,000 spacecraft and is seeking approval to launch an additional 30,000.
The two Starlink missions are part of a busy week for SpaceX, which will launch Crew-6 on its way to the space station for NASA at 12:34 a.m. EST (0534 GMT) Thursday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Crew-6 was originally supposed to fly early Monday, but that attempt was scrapped late in the countdown due to a ground system problem. Predicted bad weather pushed the next attempt to Jupiter.
Thursday’s Starlink launch from Vandenberg was supposed to fly on Monday, 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 in one day.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on February 28 at 12:25 pm EST with a new launch date of March 1 for the Starlink mission, and then on March 1 at 3:15 pm EST with a new target date of March 2.
By Mike Wall “outside (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelWall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) Or Facebook (opens in new tab).