A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will fly for a record-tying 13th time on Thursday morning (July 7), and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 topped with 53 of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites is scheduled to lift off at 9:11 a.m. EDT (1311 GMT) on Thursday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Watch it 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 liftoff.
You’ll see a landing as well as a launch: About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage will come back to Earth for a touchdown attempt on the SpaceX droneship Just Read the Instructions, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. The 53 Starlink satellites will be deployed into low Earth orbit by the rocket’s upper stage seven minutes later, if all goes according to plan.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos
It will be the 13th mission for this Falcon 9’s first stage, tying a reuse record the company set just last month on another Starlink launch.
The booster previously helped launch SpaceX’s first-ever crewed flight, the Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station in 2020; a robotic cargo mission to the orbiting lab; two “rideshare” missions that each lofted dozens of satellites; South Korea’s ANASIS-II military communications satellite; and seven other Starlink batches, SpaceX representatives wrote in a mission description (opens in new tab).
Such extensive reflight is a big priority for SpaceX and its founder and CEO, Elon Musk, who has long stressed that full and rapid rocket reuse is the key breakthrough needed to unlock the exploration of the cosmos. (The Falcon 9 is not fully reusable — its upper stage is expendable — but SpaceX’s next-generation space transportation system, Starship, will be, if all goes to plan.)
Starlink is SpaceX’s huge constellation of broadband satellites. The company has already launched more than 2,700 Starlink spacecraft to low Earth orbit, and many more will likely get there in the near future: SpaceX has permission to launch 12,000 Starlink satellites, and it has applied for approval to loft up to 30,000 more on top of that.
SpaceX has launched 27 orbital missions already in 2022, 15 of which were dedicated Starlink flights.
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 (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).