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Watch SpaceX launch another batch of Starlink satellites into space

Published Jul 8th, 2020 11:50AM EDT
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Image: Terry Renna/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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  • SpaceX is scheduled to launch another batch of its Starlink communications satellites today from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
  • The launch is scheduled for 11:59 a.m. ET, and you can watch the live stream here.
  • The Starlink satellites headed to space today include new sun shades to prevent reflections from interfering with scientific work on the ground.

SpaceX’s regular schedule of launches continues at a breakneck pace today with yet another batch of Starlink communications satellites headed into space. The company will send its Falcon 9 skyward to deliver a trio of small Earth-scanning satellites for a company called BlackSky, and it’s packed the rest of the payload bay with 57 tiny Starlink satellites to round things out.

The launch is scheduled to take place at 11:59 p.m. ET, and the rocket will take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. It’s a pretty standard launch, at least for SpaceX, but the Starlink hardware that is taking flight today is a bit different than most of the 500+ Starlink satellites already orbiting Earth.

One of the biggest complaints from the scientific community with regards to SpaceX is that its Starlink satellites can seriously mess with observations of space. The satellites are easily spotted during sky surveys and they get in the way of telescopes and observatories on Earth that are trying to peer at objects much farther away.

SpaceX has been relatively receptive to this criticism and has workshopped a few possible solutions. Painting the satellites matte black can help with preventing reflections from the Sun bouncing off and back down to Earth, but the satellites headed into space today come with another feature: deployable shades.

The shades are meant to mitigate any reflection of sunlight off of the satellites’ antennas, which SpaceX believes is the biggest factor in being able to see the satellites from the ground. The company has tested this feature on a small scale in past launches, but today’s batch of 57 satellites will all include the new shades. Let’s hope astronomers find them to be a bit less intrusive than the old versions.

As always, SpaceX will provide a live stream (which you can watch above) as well as live commentary from SpaceX staff to offer additional context and details about the mission and the hardware being deployed into orbit.

“Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, and the fourth and seventh Starlink missions,” SpaceX says of today’s launch vehicle. “Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.”

If for some reason the launch can’t go on as scheduled, the backup launch opportunity will be Friday, July 10th, at 11:16 a.m. ET.

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