Update for 5 a.m. EDT: SpaceX has successfully launched its latest Starlink satellites into orbit. See the launch video and our full story.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX will launch its next fleet of Starlink satellites into orbit for the company's broadband megaconstellation Wednesday (March 24), and you can watch the predawn liftoff live online.
The Hawthorne, California-based company will loft 60 Starlink internet satellites on its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station here in Florida at 4:28 a.m. EDT (0828 GMT).
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Wednesday's flight, the Starlink 22 mission, is the fourth Starlink mission this month and the 23rd overall for the burgeoning internet service.
SpaceX's goal is to provide high-speed internet access to users around the world through its Starlink megaconstellation. By using a small terminal (no larger than a laptop), users on the ground will be able to connect to the ever-growing network.
To date, SpaceX has launched more than 1,300 of the internet-beaming satellites into orbit, in an effort to fill out its planned initial constellation of 1,440 spacecraft. SpaceX has already been extensively testing the space-based internet service, and looks to do a full commercial rollout later this year.
This launch marks the 110th flight overall for SpaceX's workhorse two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. The liftoff is expected to feature a veteran Falcon 9 first stage, designated B1060, that has five flights under its belt. This frequent flyer previously launched an upgraded GPS satellite for the U.S. military, a Turkish communications satellite, three previous Starlink missions.
If all goes as planned, approximately nine minutes after liftoff B1060 will touch down on one of SpaceX’s two drone ships — "Of Course I Still Love You." If successful, it will mark the 78th recovery of a first stage booster since the company landed its first booster in December 2015.
The weather outlook looks good for Wednesday's early morning liftoff, with forecasters at the 45th Weather Squadron predicting a 90% chance of favorable launch conditions. The only issue was the possible development of cumulus clouds.
SpaceX will continue its tradition of recovering the Falcon 9's payload fairing, or nose cone, on Wednesday's flight. The company's twin net-equipped boats — called GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief — are sitting this mission out.
In their place is a new boat: the Shelia Bordelon. It will take up the mantle and scoop up the fairings after they fall back to Earth in two pieces.
Each piece of the clamshell-like hardware, which cost approximately $6 million combined, is outfitted with software that navigates it to the recovery zone, and a parachute system that lets them gently land in the ocean.
The Shelia Bordelon will be joined by another SpaceX ship, the GO Quest, for its first recovery mission, with the Sheila Bordelon using an onboard crane to do all the lifting.
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