UPDATE: SpaceX has set a new launch time for today’s Starlink satellite launch. The company now aims 06:59 a.m. EDT (10:59 a.m. GMT)a delay of 39 minutes.
SpaceX plans to launch 53 more Starlink internet satellites and land the return rocket on a ship at sea early Wednesday morning (May 18), and you can watch all the action live.
One step in two steps Falcon 9 rocket topped with 53 Stellar Link The spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:59 a.m. EDT (1059 GMT) on Wednesday. The first stage of the rocket will land on the SpaceX droneship A gravity deficit in the Atlantic Ocean about nine minutes after liftoff, if all goes as planned.
You can watch it all unfold here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company. Coverage should begin approximately 10 minutes before takeoff. The livestream will end shortly after the booster lands, if previous Starlink webcasts are any guide. So the live coverage likely won’t include the deployment of the Starlink satellites, which is expected to take place about an hour after launch.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos
Starlink is SpaceX’s broadband constellation, which currently consists of more than 2,300 satellites. This number has increased rapidly in recent times; SpaceX has already launched 20 missions in 2022, and 13 of them have been dedicated Starlink flights.
But Starlink’s population could get really huge in the not-too-distant future; the next generation version of the constellation could possibly consist of up to 30,000 satellites.
Wednesday’s mission will be the fifth for this particular Falcon 9 first stage. This reuse is a priority for SpaceX and its founder and CEO, Elon Muskwho sees rapid and repeated flight as the key breakthrough needed to make ambitious feats of exploration such as the colonization of Mars economically feasible.
SpaceX has landed Falcon 9 first stages 113 times during orbital missions to date and reflown boosters 92 times, according to company website.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.