SpaceX will launch another big batch of its Starlink internet satellites early tomorrow morning (Feb. 5) on a record-tying mission, and you can watch it live.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with roughly 60 satellites for SpaceX’s growing Starlink broadband constellation is scheduled to lift off tomorrow at 5:14 a.m. EST (1014 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Shortly thereafter, the booster’s first stage will come back down to Earth for a vertical landing. It will be SpaceX’s second 60-satellite launch in two days if all goes well.
You can watch all the action live here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink satellite megaconstellation launches in photos
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Tomorrow’s mission, known as Starlink 17, will mark the eighth orbital launch for this particular Falcon 9’s first stage. That will tie the SpaceX rocket-reusability record, which was set last month during another Starlink liftoff.
Such extensive reuse is a key priority for SpaceX and its billionaire founder and CEO, Elon Musk. Full and rapid reuse of rockets and spacecraft is the crucial breakthrough needed to make spaceflight affordable and enable ambitious exploration feats such as Mars colonization, Musk has said.
Tomorrow’s flight will be the second Starlink launch in just over 24 hours. Early this morning, a different Falcon 9 launched 60 of the broadband satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is next door to KSC.
Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites to orbit – mission from pad 39A on deck pic.twitter.com/71cuCBgPNXFebruary 4, 2021
For a while, it looked like the two flights would be even more dramatically back to back.
The Eastern Range, the entity that oversees launches from the U.S. East Coast, granted approval for Starlink 17 to launch this morning, less than five hours after the other Starlink mission got off the ground. But SpaceX announced yesterday (Feb. 3) that it had decided to target Friday morning for Starlink 17, to allow more time for prelaunch checkouts.
SpaceX has now launched nearly 1,100 Starlink satellites. But many more are likely to go up; the constellation may eventually harbor tens of thousands of spacecraft.
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.