SpaceX launches another batch of Starlink satellites on Wednesday (April 19).
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying 21 of SpaceX’s new “V2 mini” Starlink satellites will lift off at 10:31 a.m. EST (1431 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida. There are four backup launch opportunities currently scheduled for the same day if issues arose during the original window.
About 8 minutes and 26 seconds into launch, the rocket’s first stage will attempt to land on SpaceX’s self-driving unmanned vehicle, A Shortfall of Gravitas, waiting nearby in the Atlantic Ocean. You can watch the event live here on SpaceX.com courtesy of SpaceX.
Related: Starlink satellites: everything you need to know
SpaceX’s Starlink V2 minisatellites are designed to be more powerful than previous iterations, allowing for greater bandwidth capacity than previous generations, depending on the company (Opens in a new tab). It also features Hall thrusters, which are electric propulsion systems that provide more than twice the amount of thrust compared to those aboard first-generation Starlink satellites. SpaceX said (Opens in a new tab).
SpaceX already has more than 4,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, but it has plans to greatly increase that number. The company has received regulatory approval to launch up to 12,000 more Starlink vehicles and is seeking permission to add a whopping 30,000 more.
While the satellites will help bring broadband internet to remote or disadvantaged locations around the world, that number of satellites also comes with its downsides, as astronomers complain about Starlink spacecraft interrupting scientific observations.
Wednesday’s mission will be the company’s 25th flight so far in 2023. The first to fly that mission previously launched the private Hakuto-R rover into lunar orbit and three Starlink missions, as well as other payloads.
When it comes to upcoming SpaceX launches, all eyes are on the first space launch of the company’s massive Starship rocket, currently targeted for Thursday (April 20). When the Starship launches on a historic test flight, it will claim the title of the world’s most powerful rocket and pave the way for a new era of human spaceflight.
This story was updated on April 19 at 7:50 AM EST and 9:15 AM EST to reflect revised launch times.
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