SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants to bring speedy broadband to the world, providing a megaconstellation of satellites that swarm around the Earth like a flock of internet-capable pigeons looking for some bread.
Okay, bad analogy, but for Musk to achieve his lofty goal, SpaceX will need to successfully launch 60 satellites currently tucked neatly away inside a Falcon 9 payload bay. After high winds delayed the mission Wednesday, things are looking good for launch Thursday evening.
The Starlink mission is set to deliver those first 60 internet satellites to orbit Thursday. Provided everything goes as planned, the launch will pave the way for a satellite megaconstellation that will eventually contain over 12,000 of the miniature internet-providing boxes of future tech.
The launch window is scheduled to open at 7:30 p.m. PT and close at 9 p.m. PT on May 16.
As is par for the course for SpaceX now, the company will attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster on a droneship known as “Of Course I Still Love You,” floating along in the Atlantic Ocean. Around an hour into the mission, the satellites will be deployed.
If you’re the kind of person who loves a spaceship and wants to watch along, SpaceX will provide a live stream Thursday at the webcast homepage. You can catch that below. SpaceX generally starts streaming around 15 minutes prior to launch (7:15 p.m. PT, in this case).
The first 60 satellites will be dropped off at an altitude of approximately 270 miles (440 kilometers) above the Earth, if everything runs smoothly, and then they will gently propel themselves out to an orbit of about 340 miles (550 kilometers).
This will be the third time this particular Falcon 9 booster has ascended to space, according to SpaceX, with two previous flights coming in September 2018 and January 2019.
Musk has tried to temper expectations of this first, historic deployment of satellites, saying that “much will likely go wrong” and these first 60 satellites are a test, providing a demonstration of Starlink’s future capabilities. Another six launches will be required before even “minor” coverage is offered.
You can read all about the Starlink plan for space internet domination in CNET’s handy explainer.
Updated 5:45 p.m. PT: SpaceX says weather conditions are favorable.Updated 7:50 p.m. PT: SpaceX has scrubbed today’s launch.Updated 3:28 p.m. PT May 16: Launch details added, linked to webcast.
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