How to Watch SpaceX's Postponed Starlink Satellite Rocket Launch

SpaceX will launch its first Starlink mission of the year on January 20, with a stack of 60 internet satellites set to be sent into orbit.

The Starlink project aims to establish a global high-speed internet network, underpinned by a constellation of Starlink satellites that could eventually total 42,000.

This week's launch was due to take place on Monday, but it was rescheduled because of unfavorable weather conditions.

The mission has now been lined up for Wednesday, weather permitting, with the launch window opening at 8.02 a.m. ET at Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 on Merritt Island in Florida.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire Elon Musk, will live stream the launch on both YouTube and the SpaceX website, with coverage set to begin around 15 minutes before lift-off.

This will be SpaceX's 17th Starlink mission, with 955 Starlink satellites having already been launched into low Earth orbit, approximately 550 kilometers above the surface of the planet.

That is much closer to Earth than geostationary satellites, which have an altitude of approximately 35,786 kilometers.

This should enable the Starlink network to provide internet connectivity "that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet," including in "locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable," according to SpaceX.

This week's launch will be carried out by a Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster that has flown seven times before, most recently in December 2020.

Each Starlink satellite weighs approximately 260kg, but their flat, compact design allows them to be stacked on top of each other for mass-deployment.

The satellites can all maneuver themselves in space for both optimal performance and to avoid collisions with other spacecraft and space debris, and can deorbit at the end of their useful life, which is around five years.

"At end of life, the satellites will utilize their on-board propulsion system to deorbit over the course of a few months," according to SpaceX. "In the unlikely event the propulsion system becomes inoperable, the satellites will burn up in Earth's atmosphere within one to five years, significantly less than the hundreds or thousands of years required at higher altitudes."

The relatively short lifespan of the Starlink satellites should also make it easier for SpaceX to continually upgrade its technology and improve its service, which is already available to customers via its limited Better than Nothing Beta program, which costs $99 per month after a $499 equipment fee.

SpaceX has promised speeds varying from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s through the test service, which would also go through periods of no connectivity.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket takes off at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The company will launch 60 Starlink satellites into orbit this week. Joe Raedle/Getty Images