SpaceX will launch 22 Starlink satellites early Sept. 15 — if Hurricane Lee doesn’t interfere (Image Credit: Space.com)
SpaceX plans to launch 22 of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit just after midnight on Friday (Sept. 15), if the weather cooperates.
A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch the Starlink spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Friday at 12:03 a.m. EDT (0403 GMT). You can watch it live via SpaceX’s account on X (formerly Twitter). Coverage is expected to begin about five minutes before liftoff.
There’s no guarantee the Falcon 9 will get off the ground on time, however.
“Ahead of tonight’s Falcon 9 launch of @Starlink satellites, teams are keeping an eye on Hurricane Lee in the Atlantic Ocean, which could impact conditions for recovery operations,” SpaceX said today (Sept. 14) in a post on X.
“Recovery operations” refers to the plan to bring the Falcon 9’s first stage safely back to Earth after launch, something that SpaceX has been doing for years now.
On Friday, the booster will touch down about 8.5 minutes after liftoff on the SpaceX droneship Just Read the Instructions, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. It will be the fifth launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.
That’s contingent on the waters in the touchdown zone being calm enough, as SpaceX noted in its X post today. The company has postponed liftoffs before to wait for better conditions in the recovery area.
The 22 Starlink satellites, meanwhile, are scheduled to deploy from the Falcon 9’s upper stage about 65 minutes after launch.
Friday morning’s launch will be SpaceX’s 64th orbital mission of 2023. More than half of those flights have been dedicated to building out the company’s Starlink megaconstellation, which currently consists of more than 4,700 operational satellites.
Every new SpaceX launch extends the company’s record for most liftoffs in a year. The previous mark, 61, was set in 2022.