SpaceX plans to launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets for a record 13th time today (June 17), and you can watch the action live.
The two-stage Falcon 9 is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today at 12:08 p.m. EDT (1608 GMT), carrying 53 of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites into orbit. It’s the first of three rockets in three days from three different pads for SpaceX this weekend.
You can watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company (opens in a new tab); coverage should begin 10 minutes before takeoff.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos
If all goes as planned, all 53 satellites will be deployed into low Earth orbit approximately 15.5 minutes after launch. But there will be action before that: About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 first stage will descend to Earth for a vertical landing on the SpaceX drone A Shortfall of Gravitas, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. off the coast of Florida.
This will be the 13th launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage, setting a new SpaceX reuse record. The booster previously helped launch a GPS satellite, a Turkish communications satellite, a variety of spacecraft on the Transporter 2 “rideshare” mission and nine Starlink batches, according to a SpaceX mission description. (opens in a new tab).
Such extensive flight is a high priority for SpaceX and its billionaire founder and CEO, Elon Musk. Musk has repeatedly said that rapid and complete reuse is the key breakthrough that will allow humanity to settle on Mars and achieve a variety of other ambitious space feats.
Starlink is SpaceX’s internet satellite constellation. The company has launched more than 2,600 Starlink ships to date (opens in a new tab), and the number will continue to increase long into the future; the next generation version of the network could eventually include up to 30,000 satellites (opens in a new tab).
Today’s mission will launch a triple rocket planned for SpaceX, which also plans to launch a radar satellite for the German military on Saturday morning (June 18) and a commercial communications satellite early Sunday (June 19).
This intense 36-hour period will continue a very busy year for SpaceX. The company has already launched 23 missions in 2022, including 14 dedicated to Starlink flights.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).