On Friday night, a SpaceX rocket is expected to take off from the coast of California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Launching from the facility northwest of Santa Barbara, the Falcon 9 rocket carrying twenty-two Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit is set to take off at 4:34 p.m. There are two more backup launch opportunities on Friday at 4:12 p.m. and till 8:32 p.m.
Following its separation, the first stage booster touched down in the Pacific on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You.
If the skies are clear, the rocket and its exhaust plume can occasionally be seen for hundreds of miles as it rises down the coast. The greatest views are typically obtained from launches that occur shortly after sunset and before sunrise, when the rocket reflects the sun’s beams against a gloomy sky.
In Los Angeles, sunset is targeted for 5:44 p.m. on Friday, approximately one hour after liftoff, so the sky will not offer the perfect twilight background during the initial launch window.
SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, exceeded its previous yearly record of 61 orbital launches in 2022 with 96 successful flights launched with its Falcon rockets in 2023.
Launched into space by its rockets, SpaceX has a network of satellites called Starlink that orbit the planet at an altitude of roughly 340 miles. Anywhere in the world can receive high-speed internet thanks to the Starlink network.
The satellites parade across the night sky like a train if the lighting is correct. Although the satellites are high enough to reflect direct sunlight, they are occasionally visible in the first few minutes after nightfall and before sunrise when the sun is below the horizon.