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SpaceX launching 21 satellites tonight on 2nd leg of Starlink doubleheader

SpaceX is set to launch of its 21 Starlink broadband satellites tonight (April 5), on the second leg of a spaceflight doubleheader for the company.

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 21 of SpaceX’s Starlink spacecraft — including six that can beam service directly to cell phones — is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California tonight during a four-hour window that opens at 10:31 p.m. EDT (7:31 p.m. local California time; 0231 GMT on April 6).

SpaceX will stream the launch via its X account, beginning about five minutes before the window opens.

Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky

The Falcon 9’s first stage will come back to Earth for a vertical landing about eight minutes after liftoff, if all goes according to plan. It will touch down on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

It will be the sixth launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.

The Falcon 9’s upper stage, meanwhile, will continue hauling the 21 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit (LEO), deploying them there 62.5 minutes after liftoff.

Two-thirds of the 33 orbital missions that SpaceX has launched so far in 2024 have been devoted to building out its Starlink megaconstellation, which currently consists of more than 5,650 operational satellites in LEO.

Tonight’s liftoff will be the second Starlink launch of the day, if all goes to plan: SpaceX launched 23 of the broadband craft early this morning from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

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