SpaceX scheduled to launch third Starlink mission at 9:49 am Monday

The launch is scheduled for 9:49 a.m.

After Monday's planned launch was delayed due to high upper-level winds, SpaceX is about to try one again to launch its newest batch of Starlink communications satellites. Already, after SpaceX's last launch of 60 Starlink satellites earlier in January, the company is now the largest private satellite operator in the world - this is the third batch of 60 "production" Starlink satellites, after an initial 60 launched early past year as a test, meaning SpaceX now has around 240 small satellites in low Earth orbit for its broadband consumer internet project. It'll be the fourth set to go up, but the first 60 were described as "experimental" by SpaceX. "Chief", were also expected to attempt recovery of the two halves of the protective payload fairing about 35 minutes later.

By mid-2020, after a dozen Falcon 9 flights, enough satellites will be in orbit to provide limited coverage across most of the continental United States and Canada. Once these reviews are complete, onboard ion thrusters will get the satellites the rest of the way to their target orbit altitude of 550 kilometers.

The Falcon 9 launched from Kennedy Space Center in November 2019 and delivered 60 SpaceX Starlink satellites into orbit. Its goal is to offer service to customers in the USA and Canada by the end of this year through a series of planned launches of batches of 60 Starlink satellites scheduled through the remainder of 2020. A global launch will follow in 2021. More importantly, how much?

We do know the Starlink constellation works after an AC-130 gunship passed data during a recent exercise. You can watch the live telecast right here, courtesy of SpaceX, or watch it directly on the SpaceX website. It'll go live 15 minutes before launch. SpaceX officials say the company is working on techniques to darken the small satellites and minimize the threat, but launches are proceeding in the meantime.