Update to 14:50 ET: SpaceX has postponed the launch of its next Starlink mission until Tuesday, January 18 at the earliest due to weather issues. See our updated history below.
In SpaceX The rocket will send a new fleet of the company's Starlink Internet satellites into orbit on Tuesday evening (January 18), and you can watch it live online.
In what will be SpaceX's third flight in 2022, the company is set to launch 49 Starlink satellites into space on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for at. 19:04 EST (0004 Jan. 19 GMT).
The launch was originally scheduled for Monday night, but SpaceX postponed it by 24 hours due to the weather conditions at the launch site and the Falcon 9 booster's drone ship landing site in the Atlantic Ocean.
"With more favorable weather conditions for departure and booster recovery, now targeted on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:04 PM ET for Falcon 9's launch of Starlink satellites," SpaceX wrote in a Twitter update Monday afternoon. Current weather forecasts from the US Space Force predict a 95% chance of good weather at the time of launch of SpaceX's Starlink flight on Tuesday, with high winds on departure the only concern.
You will be able to watch the launch here and on the Space.com website, thanks to SpaceX, starting about 15 minutes before launch. You can also watch it directly from SpaceX's website and on YouTube.
Related: SpaceX's Starlink satellite mega constellation is launched on images
Tuesday's launch will mark SpaceX's second Starlink mission in 2022 following the launch on January 6 of 49 other satellites from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Another SpaceX mission, called Transporter-3, sent 105 small satellites into orbit on January 13 from a nearby cushion at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, but carried no Starlink satellites.
The upcoming launch will be the 36th dedicated Starlink mission for SpaceX, which has launched nearly 2,000 of the broadband Internet satellites since 2019. Since its first flight, SpaceX has steadily grown its Starlink mega constellation to deliver fast, reliable Internet service across the Earth, especially in remote and underserved areas. The initial constellation is expected to number about 4,400 satellites.
In 2021, SpaceX redesigned its Starlink satellites to include laser communications so they could better communicate with each other without using ground relays. The Starlink satellites equipped with these laser systems will soon activate them, wrote SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in a Twitter update Saturday (January 15).
Musk also added that 1,469 of SpaceX's Starlink satellites are currently active, with 272 of them moving into operational orbits between 335 and 348 miles (540 and 560 kilometers) above Earth.
The Falcon 9 rocket, which launches Tuesday's Starlink mission, has flown nine times before. It has launched six different Starlink missions, as well as the GPS III-3 satellite for the US military, the Turksat 5A satellite for Turkey and the Transporter 2 rideshare mission, which launched 85 small satellites and three Starlink satellites.
The two payloads that make up the Falcon 9's nose cone have also flown before on Starlink missions. After launch, Falcon 9's first leg will return to Earth to land on SpaceX's drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic, so it can be refurbished for a future flight. SpaceX regularly reuses Falcon 9 boosters and power jackets as part of its recyclability program to reduce the cost of its missions.
Editor's note: This story was updated at. 14:50 EST to include the new Tuesday, January 18, launch date and time for SpaceX's next Starlink mission.