Elon Musk to launch 60 Starlink probes on Friday – and you can see them in the sky TONIGHT
SPACEX’S next Starlink launch has just been moved again to Friday June 26.
Another 60 of Elon Musk’s satellites will be heading into the sky and if you look up tonight you may be able to see a few already there.
Good weather can increase the visibility of the satellites[/caption]
An update on the Nasa Kennedy Space Centre website states: “SpaceX is now targeting June 26, 2020 4:18 PM ET for the 10th launch of Starlink.
“SpaceX is scheduled to launch 60 Starlink satellites from a Falcon 9.
“This will be the 10th mission in support of the constellation of networked satellites known as Starlink.
“The goal of Starlink is to create a network that will help provide internet services to those who are not yet connected, and to provide reliable and affordable internet across the globe.”
Batches of the satellites are loaded into Falcon 9 rockets[/caption]
Blast off is expected at 20:18 BST (16:18 EDT) from Cape Canaveral in Florida in the US.
If you want to watch the launch in real time there should be a livestream on SpaceX’s YouTube channel.
Nasa also shows launches on the Nasa TV website.
This launch was originally planned for earlier in the week but had to be pushed back due to weather conditions.
How to track Starlink satellites in real-time
Not sure where to look? Your phone’s got you covered.
There are a number of stargazing apps you can use to follow the path of Starlink probes.
On the Apple App Store, we’d recommend Night Sky, which is free and helps you find all kinds of celestial wonders.
Simply head outside at one of the scheduled Starlink times above, load up one of the apps and you should be able to spot one.
Alternatively, you can visit the Find Starlink website (or the “Find Starlink Satellites” app) and enter your location.
SpaceX has already launched several batches of the satellites[/caption]
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a controversial scheme that aims to beam Wi-Fi to people from space using a “mega constellation” of thousands of satellites.
“With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet … Starlink will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” the official website explains.
The project is the brainchild of tech billionaire Elon Musk, whose California-based rocket firm SpaceX builds and operates the satellites.
More than 420 have been launched so far, with the network eventually set to reach 12,000, rising to as many as 42,000 in the future.
SpaceX sends its satellites up in batches of 60 at a time. Each group is launched atop an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX.
The solar-powered tech typically orbits around 340 miles above Earth.
How the probes will affect the night sky is causing concern as they sit in a low orbit, so appear brighter than stars and planets.
Is Starlink ‘blocking’ the night sky?
The Starlink programme is controversial among astronomers, who have slammed Musk’s hare-brained scheme.
They say Starlink gets in the way of observations due to light reflected off the the satellites.
University of Western Ontario meteor researcher Denis Vida stated in a blog post last year: “One has to be concerned how will our skies look like when hearing that there are plans to launch a total of 42,000 satellites.
“This might completely deny us to do any optical meteor observations as soon as 2024.”
Never one to take something lying down, Musk has lashed back at his critics, claiming the satellites have no such impact.
Speaking at a conference in Washington DC last month, he said: “I am confident that we will not cause any impact whatsoever in astronomical discoveries. Zero. That’s my prediction.
“We’ll take corrective action if it’s above zero.”
SpaceX engineers are also said to be looking into making the satellites a bit less shiny so they won’t reflect the sun as much.
What is SpaceX?
Here’s what you need to know…
SpaceX was founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk who still has part ownership of the company with 54 per cent equity and 78 per cent voting control.
SpaceX is a private American aerospace manufacturer that is based in California.
It was founded in 2002 with the goal to build affordable rockets and enable the colonisation of Mars.
The manufacturer also aimed to reduce space transportation costs.
Since its creation, the firm has gained fame primarily as a pioneering rocket firm.
In 2008 it launched the first privately-funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach orbit and later became the first private company to launch an object into orbit around the sun.
The company has grown dramatically over its lifespan, from 160 employees in November 2005 to around 7,000 as of November 2019.
As of March 2018, SpaceX had over 100 launches on its manifest representing about $12billion (£9.24billion) in contract revenue.
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In other space news, Nasa is planning the first ‘Moon hike’ for 2024.
Mysterious signals have been coming from space for over 500 days and scientists aren’t sure why.
And, Elon Musk has said SpaceX’s Starship rocket, which he hopes will put Americans on Mars, is now the company’s “top priority”.
Have you ever seen a Starlink satellite in the sky? Let us know in the comments…
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