SpaceX is set to send 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit on Sunday, February 15, to join the 180 up there already. Elon Musk’s space exploration firm will use a Falcon 9 rocket to launch the miniature satellites, with lift-off scheduled for 10.25am EST (3.25pm GMT).
How to watch and live stream SpaceX launch
The launch was originally scheduled for February 15, but poor weather conditions at Cape Canaveral, Florida, forced SpaceX to push the launch back.
The company’s official Twitter account said: “Static fire of Falcon 9 complete ahead of launching 60 Starlink satellites—due to poor weather in the recovery area tomorrow, now targeting launch on Sunday, February 16 at 10.25am EST, 3.25pm UTC.”
You can find more details about the launch on the official Twitter.
Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite broadband project that will eventually see tens of thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth to deliver the internet to every corner of the globe.
Just 180 of the planned 42,000 small satellites have been sent into orbit but astronomers are already complaining Mr Musk has ruined their view of the stars.
Last year, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) said in a statement: “The scientific concerns are twofold. Firstly, the surfaces of these satellites are often made of highly reflective metal, and reflections from the Sun in the hours after sunset and before sunrise make them appear as slow-moving dots in the night sky.
“Although most of these reflections may be so faint that they are hard to pick out with the naked eye, they can be detrimental to the sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes, including the extreme wide-angle survey telescopes currently under construction.
“Secondly, despite notable efforts to avoid interfering with radio astronomy frequencies, aggregate radio signals emitted from the satellite constellations can still threaten astronomical observations at radio wavelengths.
“Recent advances in radio astronomy, such as producing the first image of a black hole or understanding more about the formation of planetary systems, were only possible through concerted efforts in safeguarding the radio sky from interference.”
SpaceX has listened to the complaints, and will begin working on solutions.
To start with, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said the next batch of satellites sent up will have a “coating on the bottom” which could stop light reflection.
However, Ms Shotwell conceded the coating might affect the functionality of the product.
She said: “It definitely changes the performance of the satellite, thermally. It’ll be some trial and error but we’ll fix it.”
Ms Shotwell added: “We want to make sure we do the right thing to make sure little kids can look through their telescope.
“Astronomy is one of the few things that gets little kids excited about space.
“It’s cool for them to see a Starlink. But they should be looking at Saturn, at the moon and not want to be interrupted.”
The SpaceX boss added that the issues were not raised when the satellites were first conceptualised.
She said: “No one thought of this. We didn’t think of it. The astronomy community didn’t think of it.”