Watch live: SpaceX is quietly launching the first 2 of nearly 12,000 satellites to blanket Earth in high-speed internet

Watch live: SpaceX is quietly launching the first 2 of nearly 12,000 satellites to blanket Earth in high-speed internet

falcon 9 spacex


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

  • SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is launching a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday morning.
  • In addition to a Spanish company's radar satellite, the launch is expected to send up two experimental SpaceX satellites.
  • The two satellites may test aspects of Starlink, a project to bathe Earth in high-speed internet access using nearly 12,000 spacecraft.
  •  The launch is scheduled to lift off at 9:17 a.m. ET, and you can watch a live broadcast on YouTube.

The rocket company SpaceX, founded by tech mogul Elon Musk, plans to launch a Spanish radar satellite atop one of its go-to rockets on Wednesday morning.

If all goes well, the satellite, called Paz, will keep an eye on the oceans of the world for ship traffic.

But there's a payload hitching a ride on the rocket that SpaceX isn't publicizing in its press kit: two smaller satellites that are part of Musk's plan to bathe Earth in high-speed internet access.

The scale of the proposal, informally known as Starlink, is incredible. In the coming years, the company hopes to launch 4,425 interlinked broadband-internet satellites into orbit some 700 to 800 miles above Earth, plus another 7,500 spacecraft into lower orbits.

That's nearly 12,000 satellites - more than twice the number of all satellites launched in history.

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Dave Mosher/Business Insider

SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks during a press conference in February 2018.

Musk and SpaceX have said little about their plan since announcing it in 2015. However, the Federal Communications Commission must approve the scheme, so public documents surrounding the effort are regularly (though quietly) released.

According to FCC documents made public this month, the organization in November 2017 gave SpaceX permission to launch the two experimental spacecraft, called Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, to test its space-based internet concept.

The mission is set to lift off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California today at 9:17 a.m. EST aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

"Falcon 9 and PAZ are vertical on Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Weather is 90% favorable for tomorrow's launch," SpaceX said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Watch the launch live

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SpaceX/Flickr (public domain)

The launch of a Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX is sending up the mission using, in part, a reusable first-stage rocket booster that the company launched and recovered in August 2017.

However, SpaceX said in a release that it "will not attempt to recover Falcon 9's first stage after launch."

The Paz satellite is scheduled to deploy about 11 minutes after launch. There are no details in the press kit about the smaller satellites.

You can read more about the plan to create Starlink here, and watch the launch below.

SpaceX typically begins broadcasting about 15 minutes before launch, which in this case should be shortly after 9 a.m. ET.