SpaceX plans to launch a German military satellite and land the returning rocket on Saturday morning (June 18), and you can watch the action live.
A two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Saturday at 10:19 a.m. EDT (1419 GMT; 7:19 a.m. local California time). You can watch the action here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company (opens in new tab). Coverage is expected to begin about 10 minutes before launch.
The Falcon 9’s first stage will come down to Earth for a vertical touchdown at Vandenberg about nine minutes after liftoff, if all goes according to plan. The upper stage, meanwhile, will carry to orbit SARah-1, a radar satellite that will be operated by the German military, as well as a handful of “rideshare” spacecraft, according to EverydayAstronaut.com (opens in new tab).
Related: The 20 most memorable SpaceX missions
Saturday’s launch is the middle mission of a trifecta that SpaceX plans to pull off over a 36-hour stretch. The company launched 53 of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit yesterday (June 17) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, a mission that set a new rocket-reuse record; it was the 13th liftoff for that particular Falcon 9 first stage. (The Falcon 9 flying on Saturday sports a first stage with two launches under its belt, according to EverydayAstronaut.com.)
The third launch in the rapid-fire trio is scheduled for early Sunday (June 19), when a Falcon 9 will loft a communications satellite for the Louisiana-based company GlobalStar. That mission will lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is next door to KSC.
The back-to-back-to-back launches continue a very busy year for SpaceX. Elon Musk‘s company has already conducted 24 missions in 2022, which works out to about one per week.
While all of these operational rockets get off the ground, SpaceX continues work on its potentially transformational next-generation transportation system, a huge rocket-spaceship combo called Starship. The company is gearing up for the first orbital flight test of Starship, which could happen in the next few months now that a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration environmental review is in the books.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.