SpaceX Is Launching 60 Starlink Internet Satellites Thursday: How to Watch Live

A previously flown Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellite internet satellites stands atop its launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida for a May 15, 2019 launch.
A previously flown Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellite internet satellites stands atop its launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida for a May 15, 2019 launch. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Update for May 16, 10 pm. EDT: SpaceX has delayed the launch of its first 60 Starlink satellites for the second time, this time to perform extra software checks on the satellites. Read our full story. The delay follows a launch scrub on Wednesday due to unacceptable winds. 

Original story: SpaceX is lofting a pioneering phalanx of internet satellites tonight (May 15), and you can watch the liftoff live.

A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first 60 spacecraft in SpaceX's "Starlink" megaconstellation is scheduled to launch tonight at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT on May 16) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Watch it live here at courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the spaceflight company.

The 60 tightly packed satellites nearly fill the Falcon 9's payload fairing, as SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk showed in a photo posted on Twitter over the weekend. That same post included an image of Musk's Tesla Roadster looking tiny inside its fairing ahead of its launch on the first test flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket back in February 2018. (The Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy use fairings of the same size.)

Together, the 60 satellites weigh about 18.5 tons — heavier than any other payload that SpaceX has launched to orbit, Musk said.

Related: SpaceX's Falcon 9: Rocket for the Dragon

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Two weeks after that Falcon Heavy mission, SpaceX lofted two Starlink prototypes, dubbed Tintin A and Tintin B, as secondary payloads on a Falcon 9 flight. But the spacecraft going up tonight are "production-design" satellites, Musk said.

Tonight's launch will be just the beginning for Starlink, if all goes according to plan. SpaceX aims to launch up to 12,000 satellites for the constellation, which is designed to deliver cheap internet access to people around the world.

Six additional launches of 60-satellite payloads will be required to provide "minor" coverage, and "moderate" coverage will be achieved by launching six more after that, Musk said in another tweet.

SpaceX isn't the only company with internet-satellite dreams. For example, both OneWeb and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin plan to start building up megaconstellations of their own in the coming months and years.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with 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.