SpaceX will add 60 more satellites to its Starlink internet megaconstellation tomorrow morning (March 18), and you can watch the liftoff live.
The Starlink satellites are scheduled to launch atop a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 8:16 a.m. EDT (1216 GMT) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can watch it live here at Space.com courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company.
This will be the sixth 60-spacecraft batch that SpaceX has lofted for Starlink, which is already the biggest satellite constellation in history. But Starlink will get much larger still, if all goes according to SpaceX's plan. The company has approval to launch about 12,000 Starlink craft and has applied for permission for up to 30,000 more. (But Starlink will likely be commercially viable with just 1,000 or so satellites, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said. And the company intends to notch that numerical milestone this year.)
SpaceX aims to slash the cost of spaceflight by developing rapidly and completely reusable vehicles. The California-based company has made significant progress toward this goal, as the rocket flying tomorrow's mission shows. The Falcon 9 features a first stage that has already launched four orbital missions, and the payload fairing encapsulating the Starlink satellites was used on the first Starlink mission, in May 2019.
And there could be further flights in this hardware's future as well. SpaceX will try to land the Falcon 9 first stage yet again on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You," which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. And the company will attempt to snag the two halves of the falling payload fairing using its two net-equipped boats, "Ms. Tree" and "Ms. Chief," SpaceX representatives wrote in a mission description.
Tomorrow morning's launch was originally scheduled to take place Sunday (March 15), but an engine-power issue with the Falcon 9 triggered an automatic abort just before liftoff.
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Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.