Update for Nov. 13: SpaceX has successfully launched its 53-satellite Starlink mission in a foggy liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Our wrap story will be posted shortly.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX will launch its first stack of Starlink broadband satellites since May from the East Coast Friday morning (Nov. 12) and you can watch the action live online.
The private spaceflight company will launch a stack of 53 Starlink satellites on one of its previously flown rockets — a Falcon 9 dubbed B1058. The frequent flier is scheduled to blast off at 7:40 a.m. EST (1240 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida for its fourth mission.
You can watch the launch live on this page as well as the Space.com homepage, courtesy of SpaceX. A livestream will appear about 15 minutes before liftoff. You can also watch the launch directly via SpaceX (opens in new tab) and on YouTube (opens in new tab).
Friday's flight is the 25th Falcon 9 mission for SpaceX so far in 2021. The flight also marks the second Starlink launch since May; SpaceX paused launches for about four months in order to equip the satellites with the ability to communicate with each other via laser links, reducing the constellation's reliance on Earth, according to SpaceX. The company then launched its first full batch on a polar trajectory from its California-based launch pad in September.
This will also be the 128th flight for SpaceX's 229-foot-tall (70 meters) Falcon 9 booster, and if all goes as planned, it will also be the 94th recovery of a Falcon 9 first stage booster since the company landed its first one in December 2015.
The mission lifting off tomorrow, called Starlink 31, is the company's second batch of upgraded satellites to launch and will bring the total number of SpaceX broadband satellites launched up to 1,844.
SpaceX created its Starlink program with the goal of providing high-speed internet access to users around the world and as a means to help fund its deep-space ambitions. The service is intended to be available to people around the globe, with a special focus on users in rural or remote areas that have little to no connectivity.
The reused rocket lofting the satellites into orbit, is a veteran of the fleet. Poised to make its ninth flight, the rocket's previous payloads have included four different Starlink missions, as well as its first crewed flight for NASA Crew Demo-2, the rideshare satellite mission Transporter-1, CRS-21 cargo mission for NASA and the ANASIS-11 satellite mission.
Friday's flight will mark the second Falcon 9 rocket this week for SpaceX. The company launched a different Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday night (Nov. 10). That rocket, B1067, carried a crew of four astronauts to the International Space Station for SpaceX's six-month Crew-3 mission that is taking place as part of NASA's commercial crew program.
Once that rocket successfully launched and returned safely back to Earth, SpaceX's teams at Kennedy started preparing its other rocket for Friday's early morning launch.
To ensure that Falcon 9 is ready for its milestone flight tomorrow, SpaceX rolled the rocket out to the pad on Thursday (Nov. 11) and fired up the Falcon's nine Merlin 1D engines as part of a pre-launch test. For this test, known as a static fire test, the rocket was secured to the pad while its engines briefly fired up, allowing engineers to ensure the booster was working properly. Static fire tests are a common part of SpaceX's prelaunch procedures.
After the rocket successfully lifts the batch of Starlink satellites into orbit, SpaceX plans to land B1062 on the deck of one of its massive drone ships, named "Just Read the Instructions," which was originally intended to recover the Crew-3 booster on Wednesday night, but SpaceX needed to give the ship's crew a rest since they were stationed out at sea for several days while teams worked to get the Crew-3 mission off the ground.
Forecasters at the 45th Space Delta have said that weather for Friday morning's launch may be troublesome, as officials are predicting a 60% chance of favorable conditions for liftoff. The primary concerns being thick clouds and disturbed weather. There is a backup attempt slated for Saturday if necessary, with conditions improving to 80% 'go.'
Correction: A previous version of this story included incorrect past flights for the Falcon 9 first stage booster, which made its ninth flight, not fourth, for this launch. It was indeed the 25th launch of 2021 for SpaceX.
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