Watch SpaceX launch 5,000th Starlink satellite to orbit tonight (Image Credit: Space.com)
SpaceX plans to launch another batch of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit tonight (Aug. 25), and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 22 Starlink spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station tonight at 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 GMT on Aug. 26). The launch will take the total number of Starlink satellites lofted to date to over 5,000, according to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell. (The tally currently stands at 4,983.)
The Falcon 9’s first stage will come back to Earth tonight, if all goes according to plan: It’s scheduled to land on the SpaceX drone ship Just Read the Instructions about 8.5 minutes after liftoff.
It will be the third launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.
The Falcon 9’s upper stage will keep on flying, eventually deploying the 22 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) about 65 minutes after launch.
Tonight’s Starlink launch is scheduled to precede another SpaceX mission from Florida’s Space Coast: The company aims to launch the four-astronaut Crew-7 mission toward the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center early Saturday morning (Aug. 26). Crew-7 had been scheduled to get off the ground on Friday morning, but SpaceX pushed it back by 24 hours to conduct more analyses.
Five thousand Starlink satellites is a lot to be sure, but the number is likely to grow far into the future. SpaceX has permission to deploy 12,000 Starlink spacecraft in LEO, and it has applied for permission for about 30,000 more on top of that.