starlink

This is the nose cone that shields 60 Starlink satellites awaits launch.


SpaceX

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk envisions blanketing the Earth with Starlink broadband service by launching tens of thousands of small satellites into a low orbit, and he’s wasting no time getting started. 

His company is set to launch another 60 of the space routers from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at some point in the coming days. The mission had been set for Tuesday morning but was postponed due to rough weather at sea where a SpaceX droneship was planning to recover the Falcon 9 rocket after launch.

This will mark the fourth launch of a full batch of Starlink satellites. This group will be highly reflective and likely visible from the ground at certain points, especially around sunrise and sunset, an attribute that has caused consternation in the astronomy community. SpaceX launched an experimental “darksat” designed to be less reflective amid the last batch that went up on Jan. 6.

The Starlink mega-constellation could eventually be 42,000 satellites strong, according to regulatory filings from the company. Following the next launch, SpaceX will have sent a total of 242 satellites into space, including early test birds. 

SpaceX also looks poised to retrieve the Falcon 9 rocket, which has flown on two previous missions, on a droneship in the Atlantic and could try to catch the two halves of the nose cone (or fairing) via another pair of ships outfitted with giant nets. 

It’s already been a busy few days for SpaceX in Florida, following the successful in-flight abort test of its Crew Dragon capsule, which could begin carrying astronauts to the International Space Station later this year. 

The Starlink launch is expected to livestream via the SpaceX YouTube feed, starting about 15 minutes before launch. We’ll embed it here once we know the new launch date and the feed becomes available. 

Originally published Jan. 20.
Update, Jan. 21: Updates the launch status.