SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, January 20 for its first Starlink launch of 2021, and you can watch it live online.
The private space company led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is aiming to launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink internet satellites at 8:02 a.m. ET from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX had originally planned the launch for Monday, but unfavorable weather conditions in the booster recovery area forced it to delay the mission.
Besides marking the first Starlink satellite deployment of the year, the launch is also notable as it will see a Falcon 9 first-stage rocket booster blasted into space for a record eighth time.
The booster was previously used for the SXM-7 mission in December 2020, as well as for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission in June 2019, the Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission in March 2019, and four Starlink missions.
After its first deployment in May 2019, California-based SpaceX currently has around 1,000 Starlink satellites in near-Earth orbit as it works toward the launch of a service beaming affordable and reliable broadband internet from space. While this is enough for a limited regional service, it also plans to deploy thousands more for a global service reaching communities in remote areas that currently have little or no access to decent internet facilities.
The company is currently testing the service with a select group of beta users in the U.S. Last fall it said that early trials have demonstrated the system is already capable of download speeds of “greater than 100 megabytes per second — fast enough to stream multiple HD movies at once and still have bandwidth to spare.”
Soon after it deployed its first batch of Starlink satellites 20 months ago, a number of astronomers began to voice concerns about the satellites’ bright sun reflections as they could potentially disrupt the work of the stargazing community. Eager to find a solution, SpaceX has been testing satellites with various designs, some fitted with visors aimed at reducing the brightness of the reflection.
What to look out for during Wednesday’s mission
First, enjoy the spectacular launch that powers the rocket to space. After stage separation, watch the footage of the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster coming in to land upright on the Just Read the Instructions droneship waiting in the Atlantic Ocean. Following that, SpaceX will broadcast a livestream of the moment its 60 Starlink satellites deploy, showing them gradually spreading out as they enter near-Earth orbit.
How to watch
The launch is set to take place on Wednesday, January 20, at 8:02 a.m. ET. SpaceX will broadcast the event on its YouTube channel, which we’ve embedded at the top of this page. In case the team has to postpone the launch, we recommend you keep an eye on its Twitter feed for the very latest updates.
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