A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 new Starlink internet satellites for the Starlink-3 mission stands atop Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida one day before its planned Jan. 27, 2020 launch into orbit.
(Image: © SpaceX)
Update for 9: 21 am ET: SpaceX has delayed today’s planned Starlink launch due to high upper level winds. Liftoff is now set for Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 9: 28 a.m. EST (1428 GMT).
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Starlink mission from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for no earlier than 9: 49 a.m. EST (1449 GMT).
You can watch SpaceX’s Starlink launch webcast here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning about 15 minutes before liftoff. You can also watch the launch directly from SpaceX here.
SpaceX has a 50% chance of good launch weather today, according to the 45th Weather Squadron of the U.S. Air Force, with thick clouds and “disturbed weather” as the chief concern.
If SpaceX is unable to launch the Starlink-3 mission today, the company has a backup launch opportunity on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 9: 28 a.m. EST (1428 GMT). That launch day has an 80% chance of good weather.
The goal of SpaceX’s Starlink project is to provide constant, high-speed internet access to users around the world through a massive constellation of broadband internet satellites operating in low Earth orbit. Users on the ground would then only need a small terminal that’s no bigger than a laptop to gain internet access.
“Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” the company wrote in its Starlink mission description.
The majority of SpaceX’s missions in 2020 will consist of Starlink launches as the company works to expand its fleet of internet-beaming satellites, including at least one more batch of 60 Starlink satellites scheduled to launch before the end of January. SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk has said the company will need at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit to offer “minor” broadband coverage, and at least 800 to provide “moderate” coverage.
SpaceX plans to operate its initial batch of 1,584 satellites 341 miles (549 kilometers) above Earth, hovering much lower than traditional communications satellites that operate out of geostationary orbit. Those satellites are too far away to provide the kind of lower-cost coverage SpaceX aims to establish, Musk has said.
According to the company, Starlink commercial internet services could debut in parts of the U.S. and Canada after about half a dozen more launches, with global coverage after 24 launches. SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has said that coverage could begin sometime this year, but the company has not yet announced pricing for its new service.
However, not everyone is thrilled about the idea of SpaceX’s new megaconstellation. Astronomers have voiced concerns that the satellites could interfere with crucial scientific observations. To help ease their concerns and mitigate the satellites’ apparent brightness, SpaceX is experimenting with special coatings that are supposed to make the satellites appear darker in orbit.
During today’s launch, SpaceX aims to recover the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster with an offshore landing on its drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
The company will also attempt to catch both halves of the rocket’s payload fairing using the giant nets on its recovery boats Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Visit Space.com today for complete coverage of SpaceX’s Starlink launch.
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