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Watch Live Today! SpaceX Launching 60 Starlink Satellites for Constellation

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The private spaceflight company SpaceX will launch 60 new Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket at 9:56 a.m. EST (1456 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  You can watch the launch live here, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning at about 9:41 a.m. EST (1441 GMT). You can also watch the launch directly from SpaceX here

The Falcon 9 rocket for today's launch will lift off from SpaceX's pad at Space Launch Complext 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The first stage of the rocket is making its fourth flight, a first for SpaceX, and the payload fairing (the protective nose cone) was used on the company's Falcon Heavy launch earlier this year. SpaceX hopes to recover the booster and payload fairings at sea. 

SpaceX will launch today's Starlink mission is the company's second to build a massive constellation of Starlink broadband internet satellites in orbit. The first  group of Starlink satellites launched on May 24 and SpaceX plans to eventually loft at least 12,000 of the satellites, and could increase that number up to more than 40,000  satellites in all. 

Why Astronomers Worry About the Brightness of SpaceX's Starlink Satellites

The Starlink constellation is designed to provide high-speed internet access to users around the world. 

"Enabled by a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to populations with little or no connectivity, including those in rural communities and places where existing services are too expensive or unreliable," SpaceX representatives said in a mission description. "Since the most recent launch of Starlink satellites in May, SpaceX has increased spectrum capacity for the end-user through upgrades in design that maximize the use of both Ka and Ku bands. Additionally, components of each satellite are 100% demisable and will quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their life cycle—a measure that exceeds all current safety standards."

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell has said the company expects to begin Starlink internet service in 2020. The company will begin offering internet access to users in U.S. and Canada after six launches, then scale up to global service after 24 missions. 

From SpaceX:

Mission Overview

SpaceX is targeting Monday, November 11 at 9:56 a.m. EST, 14:56 UTC, for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. A backup launch opportunity is available at 9:34 a.m. EST, 14:34 UTC, on Tuesday, November 12. 

Falcon 9’s first stage supported the Iridium-7, SAOCOM-1A, and Nusantara Satu missions, and the fairing was previously flown on Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat6A mission earlier this year. 

Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately 45 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX’s two fairing recovery vessels, “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief,” will attempt to recover the two fairing halves. 

The Starlink satellites will deploy at an altitude of 280 km. Prior to orbit raise, SpaceX engineers will conduct data reviews to ensure all Starlink satellites are operating as intended. Once the checkouts are complete, the satellites will then use their onboard ion thrusters to move into their intended orbits.

Payload Description

SpaceX is developing a low latency, broadband internet system to meet the needs of consumers across the globe. Enabled by a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to populations with little or no connectivity, including those in rural communities and places where existing services are too expensive or unreliable. 

Since the most recent launch of Starlink satellites in May, SpaceX has increased spectrum capacity for the end-user through upgrades in design that maximize the use of both Ka and Ku bands. Additionally, components of each satellite are 100% demisable and will quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their life cycle—a measure that exceeds all current safety standards. 

Starlink is targeted to offer service in parts of the U.S. and Canada after six launches, rapidly expanding to global coverage of the populated world after 24 launches. Additional information on the system can be found at starlink.com.

Live HD Views of Earth from Space

You can watch live, high-definition views of Earth from the International Space Station thanks to NASA's High Definition Earth Viewing experiment (HDEV). This live video provides alternating views from four of the station's external cameras nearly 24/7, with the exception of regular and temporary dropouts that occur when the station switches its connection between different communications satellites. Watch it live in the window above, courtesy of NASA TV. 

From NASA:

"Behold, the Earth! See live views of Earth from the International Space Station coming to you by NASA's High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment.

"While the experiment is operational, views will typically sequence through the different cameras. If you are seeing a black image, the Space Station is on the night side of the Earth. If you are seeing an image with text displayed, the communications are switching between satellites and camera feeds are temporarily unavailable. Between camera switches, a black & gray slate will also briefly appear.

"The experiment was activated on April 30, 2014 and is mounted on the External Payload Facility of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module. This experiment includes several commercial HD video cameras aimed at the Earth which are enclosed in a pressurized and temperature controlled housing. To learn more about the HDEV experiment, visit: https://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/ESRS/HDEV/

"Please note: The HDEV cycling of the cameras will sometimes be halted, causing the video to only show select camera feeds. This is handled by the HDEV team, and is only scheduled on a temporary basis. Nominal video will resume once the team has finished their scheduled event."

'ISS Live!' Tune in to the International Space Station

Find out what the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station are up to by tuning in to the "ISS Live" broadcast. Hear conversations between the crew and mission controllers on Earth and watch them work inside the U.S. segment of the orbiting laboratory. When the crew is off duty, you can enjoy live views of Earth from Space. You can watch and listen in the window below, courtesy of NASA.

From NASA:

"Live video from the International Space Station includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. The video is accompanied by audio of conversations between the crew and Mission Control. This video is only available when the space station is in contact with the ground. During 'loss of signal' periods, viewers will see a blue screen.

"Since the station orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, it experiences a sunrise or a sunset about every 45 minutes. When the station is in darkness, external camera video may appear black, but can sometimes provide spectacular views of lightning or city lights below." 

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(Image credit: All About Space magazine)

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