SpaceX launching first Starlink satellite with deployable visor to mitigate reflectivity

It’s been four days since SpaceX launched something into orbit, and that can only mean one thing. It’s time to prepare a Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff and do it all over again.

Only this time the cargo won’t be NASA astronauts. SpaceX is deploying its latest round of Starlink satellites for its upcoming global internet service for less populated parts of the world.

If weather conditions allow, SpaceX will launch tonight at 9:25 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Watch the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch live stream below starting at 9:15 p.m. EDT.

What to know

Some notable details for the eighth Starlink satellite launch:

  • Falcon 9 first stage refurbished for fifth flight since 2018
  • First stage will attempt to land on “Just Read the Instructions” droneship in Atlantic Ocean
  • Fairing recovery vessels “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief” will try to recover fairing halves
  • Satellites will deploy 15 minutes after liftoff

New visor test

The new collection of Starlink satellites will join 420 existing SpaceX satellites in orbit. The launch will deploy the first satellite with a deployable visor to mitigate satellite reflectivity.

Starlink satellites have been criticized by astronomers for high reflectivity that limits deep space research from Earth.

The new visor will attempt to block sunlight from reaching the most reflective parts of the hardware. SpaceX has a goal of making its satellites invisible to the naked eye within a week of being deployed.

Weather conditions

The SpaceX launch director for tonight’s mission will provide a go for propellant load 38 minutes before liftoff. The 45th Weather Squadron currently reports a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions.

The mission was originally scheduled to launch before SpaceX sent NASA astronauts to the ISS on its Demo-2 flight test for Commercial Crew Program, but tropical storm activity pushed the mission date back to after DM-2.

SpaceX has a backup date reserved for Thursday at 9:03 p.m. EDT if tonight’s launch is scrubbed. Tomorrow’s weather forecast includes a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions however.

The launch window is instantaneous, meaning SpaceX only has a one second launch window.

Watch the launch

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