SpaceX is set to launch the latest batch of its Starlink satellites into orbit aboard its Falcon 9 rocket today.
Lift-off is scheduled for 11.59am local time (3.59pm BST) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, weather permitting.
It is the tenth launch of Starlink satellites and will take the total number in orbit close to 600. SpaceX boss Elon Musk ultimately hopes to create a 12,000-strong constellation in order to beam high-speed internet back down to Earth.
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The launch was initially scheduled for 26 June but was delayed by 12 days as SpaceX said its team “needed additional time for pre-launch checkouts”.
US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron estimated a 60 per cent chance of favourable weather for the midday launch.
Elon Musk was on Twitter earlier talking about how his long game for Tesla is actually inextricably intertwined with his plans for SpaceX. He has consistently stated that his ambition for SpaceX is to ultimately make humanity a multi-planetary species by setting up colonies on Mars and beyond. It turns out he wants fund this by selling off his Tesla stock in 10-20 years.
T-Minus 60 minutes.
It is not the only measure SpaceX is taking to try and make the ‘strings of bright pearls’ less visible.
For the first time, all Starlink satellites on this flight will be equipped with a visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft – a measure SpaceX has taken as part of our work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity.
Astronomers have previously complained that the fleets of Starlink satellites could obstruct both optical and radio observations of space. Hopefully this will help go some way to fixing this.
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Starlink satellites is on the launchpad.
Here’s a handy diagram put together by SpaceX showing what to expect following lift-off today.
We’ll be posting the live stream here as soon as it’s available. Until then we’ll have all the latest updates relating to the launch at the Kennedy Space Center.
Weather conditions are currently 60 per cent favourable in Florida.
Welcome to The Independent‘s coverage of the SpaceX launch today. Liftoff is at 3.59pm UK time, or 11.59am eastern time.
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