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SpaceX Starlink launch: Falcon 9 rocket set for lift off on Wednesday night to deploy internet satellites into orbit

Anthony Cuthbertson
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft attached takes off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida: Getty

SpaceX is planning to launch the next batch of its Starlink internet satellites on Wednesday, marking the second major launch for the private space firm in less than a week.

A Falcon 9 rocket will carry 60 Starlink satellites into orbit, with lift-off scheduled for 9.25pm EDT (2.25am Thursday UK time) from the Complex 40 launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Adverse weather conditions delayed last week’s launch from the same location of Nasa astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), which resulted in a delay for the latest Starlink mission.

Weather forecasts from the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron project that there is a 70 per cent probability of favourable conditions for Wednesday night’s launch.

It is the eighth launch of Starlink satellites and if successful it will bring the total number of Starlink satellites to 480. Eventually they will form part of a 12,000-strong constellation designed to beam high-speed internet down to Earth.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed new details about how Starlink will work last month, stating on Twitter that it will only work for higher latitudes at first.

This will cover places like Seattle and London to begin with, he said, before coverage progressively spreads closer to the equator.

In May, SpaceX signed a three-year deal with the US Army to test Starlink’s broadband internet service when connected to military systems.

A report in SpaceNews claimed that the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (Crada) will evaluate potential applications and assess whether the Army invests further in the network.

The swarms of satellite have drawn criticism from some astronomers, who claim that they disrupt optical and radio telescopes. Some even claim that the Starlink satellites could potentially even block sightings of Earth-bound asteroids.

SpaceX is launching its internet-beaming Starlink satellites in batches of 60 (NSC)

Trains of Starlink satellites have been visible following previous launches and continue to be visible at certain times.

Following the last launch of Starlink satellites, Mr Musk said SpaceX was “taking some key steps to reduce satellite brightness”.

These measures include paining the underside of the satellites black and changing the angle of the solar panel at certain times.

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