SpaceX plans to launch its second mission of the day today (June 12), and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 rocket topped with 72 small satellites is scheduled to lift off from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base at 5:19 p.m. EDT (2119 GMT; 2:19 p.m. local California time), kicking off a rideshare mission called Transporter-8.
Transporter-8 will be SpaceX’s second mission in about 14 hours. Early this morning, the company launched 52 of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
If all goes according to plan, the first stage of Transporter-8’s Falcon 9 will come back to Earth for a vertical touchdown at Vandenberg a little less than eight minutes after liftoff. It will be the ninth launch and landing for this particular booster, SpaceX wrote in a mission description.
The rocket’s upper stage will continue hauling aloft the 72 payloads, which include “cubesats, microsats, a re-entry capsule and orbital transfer vehicles carrying spacecraft to be deployed at a later time,” according to the mission description.
These satellites are scheduled to deploy from the Falcon 9’s upper stage over a 24-minute span beginning an hour after liftoff.
Transporter-8 is the eighth small-satellite “rideshare” mission that SpaceX has launched to date, and its third such flight of 2023. Transporter-6 launched on Jan. 3, sending 114 satellites to orbit, and Transporter-7 lofted 51 spacecraft on April 15.
SpaceX’s first dedicated rideshare mission holds the record for most satellites launched on a single rocket: Transporter-1 carried 143 satellites to orbit in January 2021.