Science

Watch SpaceX launch 51 Starlink satellites and space tug on Sunday night

SpaceX plans to send a space tug into space along with another large batch of Starlink internet satellites on Sunday evening (September 4).

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is due to lift off Sunday from the Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral on Florida’s east coast, carrying 51 Starlink internet satellites into orbit. Launch time is scheduled for 10:09 pm EDT (02:09 GMT on September 5). Watch it here in the window above, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company. (will open in a new tab).

Also on board the Starlink Group 4-20 will be the Sherpa-LTC2 space tug provided by Seattle-based Spaceflight. According to SpaceNews, the tug will carry the payload for Boeing’s Varuna Technology Demonstration Mission (Varuna-TDM), which “aims to test V-band communications for a proposed constellation of 147 non-geostationary broadband satellites.” (will open in a new tab).

SpaceNews added that the first Sherpa-LTC orbital transport vehicle was excluded from SpaceX’s January 2022 launch opportunity due to a fuel leak.

Related: SpaceX Starlink Mega Constellation Launches in Photos

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 53 Starlink satellites into orbit from the Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral in Florida on May 14, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX) (will open in a new tab)

Sunday’s flight plan requires SpaceX to return the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket to Earth for a soft landing on the Just Read the Introduction drone ship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The landing – the seventh for this particular booster – is scheduled about 8.5 minutes after launch.

Sherpa-LTC2 is scheduled to deploy from the Falcon 9 upper stage 49.5 minutes after liftoff, with Starlinks following about 23 minutes after that, SpaceX writes in the mission description. (will open in a new tab).

SpaceX has already sent more than 3,000 Starlink satellites into orbit in an effort to create a huge constellation for broadband services targeted at remote areas. SpaceX has already launched over 25 Starlink-focused missions in 2022.

This will be SpaceX’s 40th launch this year and will continue to add to the Starlink mega constellation. SpaceX has permission to launch 12,000 Starlink satellites and has asked the international regulator for permission for another 30,000.

In late August, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced plans to transfer data directly to smartphones using Starlink in conjunction with T-Mobile. Another deal, announced on Tuesday (August 30), involves the transfer of Starlink services to Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).

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