SpaceX is set to launch its next round of Starlink satellites into orbit on September 13, the first such launch in months.
The nighttime launch is set for a 11:55pm EDT / 8:55 PDT liftoff tonight (3:55am BST on September 14), and will launch 51 Starlink satellites to join the more than 1,600 satellites already in orbit. According to SpaceX projections, the deployment of the individual Starlink satellites should begin about 15 minutes after liftoff.
Like all SpaceX launches, the launch will be live streamed and we’ve embedded the stream below. The stream should go live about 15 minutes before lift-off, so you can watch the event as it happens to start just after 11:30pm EDT / 8:30pm PDT / 3:30am BST.
The mission will launch from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California aboard a veteran Falcon 9 booster that has taken several trips into space already, including seven previous Starlink missions. The booster will land on SpaceX’s floating droneship “Of Course I Still Love You” just off the coast of California and brought back to shore to hopefully be reused in future missions.
This is also the first of two launches we expect this week, with the all-civilian Inspiration4 mission set to launch in a SpaceX Crew Dragon from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on September 15, so all in all, an exciting start to the week for rocket launch fans.
Analysis: Starlink constellation continues to grow, but to what end?
SpaceX is investing a lot of time and money into building up its Starlink network without a whole lot to show for it yet. Starlink internet speeds in some areas are better than what you’d get from your local internet provider, especially if you’re in a rural area of the US where broadband internet (at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload) is hard to find even at the unrealistically-low definition of “broadband” as determined by the FCC.
Still, Starlink only has about 90,000 subscribers as of last month, according to CNBC, which doesn’t sound like much especially when you consider that we’re talking about a global subscriber base, not a regional one based on cities or local counties.
But, if SpaceX is anything, it is far more forward-thinking than a lot of other companies who are more concerned about the next quarterly profit. When fully deployed, SpaceX has an FCC license for up to 12,000 Starlink satellites in orbit at any one time as part of Starlink’s “constellation”, which aims to provide high-speed internet to just about any point on the Earth’s surface.
As the number of satellite increase (SpaceX is only using about 13% of is allowable satellite capacity right now), Starlink speeds will certainly improve, and for parts of the world where consumer broadband internet is all but nonexistent outside of dedicated cafes, having access to even the internet at Starlink’s current speeds would be game-changing.