SpaceX is ready to send another batch of its Starlink internet satellites into orbit, and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 rocket is poised to launch 49 Starlink spacecraft from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 1:13 p.m. EST (1813 GMT). You can watch it here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company. SpaceX launch webcasts usually start 15 to 20 minutes before liftoff.
The 49 new craft will join more than 1,800 functional satellites in the Starlink constellation, according to statistics compiled by Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who also keeps close tabs on satellites and space debris.
This batch of Starlinks, known as Group 4-7, will lift off soon after two other batches did. Starlink groups 4-5 and 4-6 launched from KSC successfully on Jan. 6 and Jan. 19, respectively. SpaceX also performed Starlink launches during most months of 2021.
SpaceX eventually hopes to have as many as 42,000 satellites in the Starlink megaconstellation. While the company touts benefits to people living in remote areas who do not have access to traditional internet services, the constellation poses an increased risk of orbital collisions and could mar astronomical observations, critics have said.
Nevertheless, SpaceX has committed to a rapid cadence of launches for Starlink in 2022 to continue building out its constellation and expanding its service to more rural areas.
The launch of Group 4-7 was originally scheduled for last week but has been delayed multiple times due to bad weather interfering with SpaceX’s launch of Italy’s CSG-2 Earth-observation satellite. CSG-2 lifted off Monday (Jan. 31) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is next door to KSC.
Starlink 4-7 will wrap up a busy week for SpaceX. In addition to CSG-2, the company launched the NROL-87 spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Station on Wednesday (Feb. 2).
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