A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is expected to send 57 more of the company's Starlink satellites into space early Friday morning (Aug. 7).
The launch is scheduled to take place at 1:12 a.m. EDT (0512 GMT) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX will also attempt to land the Falcon 9's first stage on a ship at sea shortly after liftoff. You can watch all the action live here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company. The broadcast should go live 15 minutes or so before launch.
Friday's launch will be SpaceX's eighth Starlink liftoff this year, and the 10th such mission overall (11 if you count the launch of two Starlink prototypes in February 2018). Starlink is a broadband constellation that SpaceX is undertaking to bring satellite internet access to the masses around the globe, particularly in underserviced regions.
SpaceX has already lofted more than 500 Starlink satellites to date, but the constellation could feature at least 12,000 craft by the time it's finished. Starlink has come under criticism from astronomers and dark-sky advocates due to the satellites' brightness, especially shortly after launch. SpaceX is taking measures to reduce the glare.
The reusable Falcon 9 rocket used in Friday's launch will be undertaking its fifth spaceflight. Before, this Falcon 9's first stage flew the Demo-1 mission in 2019 (which sent an uncrewed Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station), a trio of Earth-observing satellites for Canada, and two other Starlink missions earlier in 2020.
Besides the Starlink satellites, the mission will send two BlackSky satellites into orbit under a rideshare agreement with Spaceflight Inc.
The launch has been repeatedly delayed since late June due to weather and technical issues.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace