SpaceX’s telecommunications ambitions will take a significant step Wednesday when a Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a rare, in-house mission.
The California-based company typically launches rockets with satellites for customers, but the 10:30 p.m. liftoff from Launch Complex 40 will take several Starlink satellites, which are SpaceX-designed spacecraft designed to beam internet connectivity back down to Earth from low orbits. Eventually, the company hopes to operate more than 11,000 of them in an effort to bypass complicated ground infrastructure and provide internet access to people across the globe.
If successful, the Starlink constellation could be a major source of revenue for the company that eventually wants to take humans to the moon, Mars and beyond. SpaceX launched its first two test satellites, named Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, as secondary payloads last year.
After liftoff, Falcon 9’s first stage is expected to land on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship. It will return to Port Canaveral by the weekend.
The weather forecast for the mission, meanwhile, is expected from the Air Force no sooner than Sunday.