SpaceX is launching 53 of its Starlink Internet satellites into orbit early Thursday morning (February 2), and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 53 Starlink craft is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:43 a.m. EST (0743 GMT) on Thursday.
Watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company (opens in a new tab). Coverage is expected to begin approximately five minutes prior to kickoff.
Related: 10 Weird Things About SpaceX’s Starlink Internet Satellites
If all goes according to plan, the Falcon 9’s first stage will descend for a vertical landing at sea on SpaceX’s drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas about eight minutes and 45 seconds after launch.
It will be the fifth liftoff and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description (opens in a new tab). The rocket also launched another large batch of Starlink satellites (the company didn’t say which ones, and there were many); SpaceX’s CRS-24 cargo mission to the International Space Station in December 2021; Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13F telecom satellite in October 2022; and the OneWeb 1 flight in December 2022.
OneWeb 1 sent 40 Internet satellites into orbit for OneWeb. The London-based company signed launch contracts with SpaceX and the commercial arm of India’s national space agency after its deal to fly on Russian-made Soyuz rockets fell apart last year in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine .
SpaceX has now launched two missions for OneWeb; the second lifted January 9.
Thursday’s launch will be the eighth of 2023 already for SpaceX and its fourth of the year dedicated to Starlink, the company’s huge and ever-growing constellation of broadband satellites.
SpaceX has launched more than 3,800 Starlink satellites (opens in a new tab) to meet But the company has permission to launch 12,000 Internet tools, and it has applied for approval to put up an additional 30,000 Starlink satellites.
All Starlink satellites so far have flown aboard Falcon 9 rockets, but that could soon change. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said the company will rely primarily on its giant Starship vehicle to launch the larger next-generation Starlink 2.0 spacecraft.
Starship remains in development, but it could make its debut orbital test flight soon, perhaps in late February.
Mike Wall is the author of “Outside (opens in a new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) or Facebook (opens in a new tab).