Watch SpaceX launch 40 OneWeb internet satellites Thursday

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SpaceX will launch a big batch of internet satellites for the communications company OneWeb on Thursday (Dec. 8), and you can watch the action live.

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 40 OneWeb satellites is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida Thursday at 5:27 p.m. EST (2227 GMT). 

Watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company (opens in new tab). Coverage is expected to begin about 15 minutes before liftoff.

Related: 8 ways that SpaceX has transformed spaceflight

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches a batch of the company's Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Sept. 18, 2022.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches a batch of the company’s Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Sept. 18, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

If all goes according to plan, the Falcon 9’s first stage will come back for a landing at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is next door to KSC, a little less than eight minutes after liftoff.

It will be the fourth launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description (opens in new tab). It previously launched a SpaceX Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station for NASA in December 2021, Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13F spacecraft this past October, and one batch of SpaceX’s Starlink internet statellites.

The Falcon 9’s upper stage, meanwhile, will continue carrying the OneWeb satellites to orbit. The Falcon 9 will deploy the spacecraft in three roughly equal sets, beginning at 58 minutes post-launch and ending 30 minutes after that.

OneWeb is building a 648-satellite broadband constellation in low Earth orbit, which will compete to some degree with SpaceX’s Starlink. More than 460 OneWeb spacecraft have reached orbit to date, the vast majority of them atop Russian-built Soyuz rockets operated by French company Arianespace.

That arrangement fell apart after Russia invaded Ukraine this past February, leaving a launch gap for OneWeb. The company soon filled it, inking deals with SpaceX and New Space India Limited (NSIL). (Terms of those contracts have not been disclosed.)

The first liftoff under the NSIL deal occurred on Oct. 21, when an Indian GSLV Mark III rocket successfully lofted 36 OneWeb spacecraft. Thursday’s launch will be SpaceX’s first OneWeb mission.

Thursday’s liftoff had been scheduled for Tuesday (Dec. 6), but SpaceX pushed it back to perform more checks (opens in new tab) — something Elon Musk’s company has done with several of its Falcon 9 rockets recently.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, “Out There,” was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

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