Watch a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch for record-breaking 16th time tonight (Image Credit: Space.com)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will set a new reusability record tonight (July 9), and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 topped with 22 of SpaceX’s next-generation Starlink internet satellites is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida Sunday at 8:36 p.m. ET (0036 GMT on July 10). It will be the unprecedented 16th mission for the rocket’s first stage, according to SpaceX.
You can watch the launch live here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company. Coverage is expected to begin about five minutes before liftoff.
If all goes according to plan, the booster will come back to Earth for yet another landing, in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. It will touch down on the deck of the SpaceX droneship Just Read the Instructions about 8.5 minutes after liftoff.
The Falcon 9’s expendable upper stage, meanwhile, will continue hauling the 22 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. The batch is scheduled to be deployed there 62 minutes after launch.
The 22 satellites are apparently “V2 Minis,” a newer and more powerful version of SpaceX’s broadband craft. They’re actually bigger than the previous Starlink iteration, about 50 of which can fit on a Falcon 9. But they’re “mini” compared to the final V2 satellites, 1.25-ton (1.1 metric tons) spacecraft that will launch aboard SpaceX’s giant, next-gen Starship vehicle.
“V2 minis include key technologies — such as more powerful phased array antennas and the use of E-band for backhaul — which will allow Starlink to provide ~4x more capacity per satellite than earlier iterations,” SpaceX said via Twitter in February.
The Falcon 9 first stage that’s flying on Sunday last launched in December 2022. Among its 15 previous flights are Demo-2, SpaceX’s first-ever crewed mission, which sent two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020.
The booster is not a reuse outlier; another Falcon 9 first stage has 15 flights under its belt, and a few others have launched 14 times.
Starship will take reflight to another level, if all goes according to plan. The giant vehicle, the most powerful rocket ever built, is designed to be fully reusable. And both of its stages will be capable of flying multiple times in a single day, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1 a.m. ET on July 9 with the new launch time of 8:36 p.m. EDT. The original launch target was July 9 at 4:36 a.m. EDT.