SpaceX plans to launch another big batch of its Starlink internet satellites and land a rocket on a ship at sea on Friday (May 13), and you can watch the action live.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying 53 Starlink spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Friday at 6:07 p.m. EDT (2207 GMT; 3:07 p.m. local California time). If all goes according to plan, about nine minutes after launch, the Falcon 9’s first stage will come back to Earth for a pinpoint landing on the SpaceX droneship “Of Course I Still Love You,” which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
Watch it all here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company.
Today’s flight will be the fifth launch and landing for this Falcon first stage — impressive, but far from a SpaceX record: Three different Falcon 9 boosters have a whopping 12 missions under their belts.
SpaceX has launched nearly 2,500 Starlink satellites to date, a decent chunk of them recently; 11 of the company’s 18 spaceflights in 2022 so far have been dedicated Starlink missions. And SpaceX plans to launch another Starlink batch on Saturday (May 14) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Such launches will likely be part of our lives for a long time to come. SpaceX plans to keeping building the Starlink network, perhaps to truly staggering proportions; the next-generation version of the constellation could eventually consist of up to 30,000 satellites.
The current version of Starlink is quite functional, providing internet service to people in locations around the world.
Among its service areas is Ukraine. SpaceX has shipped thousands of Starlink terminals to the country to help it maintain its communications infrastructure, which has been damaged by the ongoing Russian invasion.
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 on Facebook.