SpaceX will launch another 60 satellites as part of its Starlink project tomorrow morning, and you can watch the launch happen live (if you’re willing to get up early on a Sunday morning).
Using a Falcon 9 rocket launching from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX will send its sixth batch of Starlink satellites into orbit. The Falcon 9 in question will be achieving an impressive feat if all goes as planned: It will be the first Falcon 9 to launch and land five times. The same booster was used in multiple previous launches includes those for Beresheet, the failed Israeli lunar lander, and for private satellite launches in addition to a previous Starlink launch.
The Starlink project aims to create a global broadband network that provides internet access to remote regions. However, the project has been the source of considerable controversy in the astronomical community.
Astronomers have said they are concerned that the launches will affect their ability to monitor and image the night sky. Because the Starlink project uses constellation satellites, in which multiple satellites are launched together to form a network in orbit, they cause considerable light reflection in the few days following a launch. The satellites may also interfere with radio wavelengths used in astronomical research.
This week, Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, hit back at the idea that Starlink would cause problems. We are “confident that [Starlink] will not cause any effect whatsoever in astronomical discoveries,” he said, “Zero. That’s my prediction. We’ll take corrective action if it’s above zero.” SpaceX is experimenting with solutions such as changing the coating of the satellites to something less reflective so that they will have less of an effect on astronomical instruments during the launches.
The launch of the satellites will be shown on SpaceX’s webcast page. The launch is scheduled for 6:22 a.m. PT on Sunday, March 15, and SpaceX typically begins its livestreams around 15 minutes before the launch occurs.
This will be SpaceX’s only Starlink launch this month. The next time a Starlink launch is scheduled is in April, which will be the mission SLC-40.
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