Hawthorne-based SpaceX will try again Wednesday to launch 57 internet satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral in Florida as it continues its quest to build a worldwide broadband network.
The launch of the Starlink satellites, along with a pair of Earth-observation satellites operated by a separate company, was originally planned for June 26, but it was scrubbed to allow more time for additional “pre-launch checkouts.”
Wednesday’s launch is scheduled for 8:50 a.m. California time.
Following the launch, SpaceX also plans to again attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket by landing it on the company’s “Of Course I Still Love You” barge in the Atlantic Ocean. The recovery process is an effort to slash the costs of launches by allowing rockets to be reused.
The first stage of the rocket being used for Wednesday’s planned launch was used in four previous SpaceX missions, including two previous Starlink satellite missions.
For SpaceX, the launch will be the 10th in its effort to build the Starlink worldwide internet array. The array is planned to provide low-cost internet access to people around the globe, particularly in under-served areas.
The latest batch of satellites will increase the Starlink array to nearly 600 satellites in orbit. It’s unclear exactly how many satellites will ultimately be included in the constellation. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said previously that the service could begin operating when it reaches 1,000 satellites, and the company has already begun soliciting people to be “beta” testers of the service. But the more satellites that are deployed will mean more comprehensive internet coverage.
In addition to the 57 Starlink satellites, the SpaceX rocket will also be carrying a pair of satellites for Spaceflight Industries on behalf of Earth-observation company BlackSky.
BlackSky is in the process of building its satellite array, with four already in orbit. The launch will increase the array to six, and the company has an initial goal of launching 16 by early next year. The array could ultimately have as many as 60 satellites, but timing on that expansion hasn’t been determined.