Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will launch SpaceX’s next batch of 49 Starlink broadband satellites. Text updates will automatically appear below. follow us on Twitter.
SpaceX’s third Falcon 9 rocket launch of the week is expected to carry 49 more Starlink internet satellites into orbit Thursday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, continuing the rapid build-up of the company’s commercial broadband network.
Liftoff from Launch Pad 39A is scheduled for 1:13:20 p.m. EST (6:13:20 p.m. GMT) to begin a 15-minute streak to deploy the 49 Starlink satellites into orbit.
You can watch a replay of our launch coverage live on this page from 11:30 a.m. EST (4:30 p.m. GMT).
The mission, known as Starlink 4-7 on SpaceX’s launch schedule, was delayed from last weekend to await two higher-priority Falcon 9 launches. One, carrying an Italian radar satellite, suffered a series of delays caused by bad weather and a cruise ship in the launch danger zone downstream.
The Italian radar satellite was launched Monday from Cape Canaveral, and a classified National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite was launched Thursday on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.
The 49 flat-panel Starlink satellites packed inside the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing for liftoff Thursday will join more than 1,500 operational spacecraft in SpaceX’s global internet network, transmitting broadband signals to more than 145,000 subscribers in more than 25 countries.
The satellites each weigh more than a quarter ton and were built at SpaceX’s Starlink factory in Redmond, Washington. SpaceX has launched 2,042 Starlink satellites so far, including spacecraft that have failed or have already been taken out of service, and the 49 satellites blasting off Thursday will bring that number to 2,071.
SpaceX continues to deploy about 4,400 Starlink satellites in five orbital “shells” at slightly different altitudes and at different inclinations or angles to the equator. Launch Thursday will target an orbital shell at an inclination of 53.2 degrees and an altitude of 335 miles (540 kilometers).
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket will head southeast from Kennedy Space Center to deploy Starlink payloads into orbit. The mission will aim to release Starlink satellites at T+plus 15 minutes, 31 seconds into an orbit at an altitude of between 130 miles and 210 miles (210 by 339 kilometers).
The satellites will deploy solar arrays and fire ion thrusters to maneuver into their operational orbit at an altitude of 335 miles.
Thursday’s mission first-stage booster, tail number B1061, will fly its sixth mission. SpaceX’s drone “A Shortfall of Gravitas” is on station in the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas for the first stage booster landing.
ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1061.6)
PAYLOAD: 49 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-7)
LAUNCH SITE: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
RELEASE DATE: February 3, 2022
LAUNCH TIME: 1:13:20 p.m. EST (6:13:20 p.m. GMT)
WEATHER FORECAST: 80% chance of acceptable time; Moderate risk of conditions adverse to recall recovery
BOOSTER RECOVERY: Drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” near the Bahamas
LAUNCH AZIMUTH: South East
TARGET ORBIT: 210 by 130 miles (338 by 210 kilometers), 53.2 degree incline
- T+00:00: Takeoff
- T+01:12: Maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:32: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
- T+02:36: Floor separation
- T+02:44: Second stage engine ignition
- T+02:49: Fairing jettison
- T+06:48: First stage inlet combustion ignition (three engines)
- T+07:08: First floor inlet burn shutdown
- T+08:26: First stage landing burn ignition (one engine)
- T+08:49: First stage landing
- T+08:50: Second stage motor shutdown (SECO 1)
- T+15:31: Separation of Starlink satellites
- 140th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
- 148th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
- 6th launch of the Falcon 9 booster B1061
- Launch of the 123rd Falcon 9 from the Space Coast of Florida
- 138th total launch from pad 39A
- SpaceX’s 44th total launch from Pad 39A
- 83rd flight of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
- 36th dedicated Falcon 9 launch with Starlink satellites
- Launch of the 6th Falcon 9 in 2022
- 6th launch by SpaceX in 2022
- 6th orbital launch based at Cape Canaveral in 2022