How to watch the next SpaceX rocket launch in the UK - and see the Starlink satellites this week
If you enjoy gazing up to the stars at night, this week promises to be particularly memorable, as SpaceX is due to launch another rocket into space as part of its Starlink mission.
The American company (founded by Elon Musk) launched a rocket on 30 May, which saw the spacecraft propel astronauts into space.
Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were launched into space on board a Falcon 9 rocket and have now reached the International Space Station. The launch marked the first time humans have reached space from the USA since 2011, and marked a first time achievement for the private company.
How can I watch the next launch?
The company is now preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Wednesday 3 June at 20.55 EDT.
This means Brits may be able to catch a glimpse of the rocket at 1.55am in the UK on the morning of 4 June.
The rocket will carry the Starlink satellites into orbit, before attempting to land at sea, and will mark the eighth batch of satellites that have been launched by the company.
The event will be streamed live and will be available to watch from the UK on the SpaceX YouTube channel.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre said, “SpaceX is scheduled to launch the 8th mission of the constellation of networked satellites known as Starlink.
“The goal of Starlink is to create a network that will help provide internet services to those who are not yet connected, and to provide reliable and affordable internet across the globe.”
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite constellation that is being constructed by SpaceX.
The firm sends satellites up into the Earth’s orbit in batches of 60, with launches having recently taken place in mid-March and April. So far, the firm has deployed nearly 500 satellites into space and is working towards a network of 12,000, with the aim of improving global internet coverage.
The satellites appear in a line crossing the night sky and their current orbital position has made them easier to spot in the past few days.
The recently launched satellites have been seen in Derbyshire, Manchester, London, Leeds, and across Europe.
How can I see the satellites?
If you haven’t yet caught a glimpse of the satellites, there will be several more opportunities to see them this week.
These are the times you should be able to spot them at:
- Wednesday 3 June - 1.37am and 3.11am
- Thursday 4 June - 2.11am and 3.46am
- Friday 5 June - 1.11am and 2.46am
- Saturday 6 June - 1.46am and 3.22am
- Sunday 7 June - 12.46am and 2.22am
The satellites will appear as ‘trains’ of bright lights and can be spotted in the sky without binoculars or a telescope.
You will need a clear sky and as little light around you as possible in order to see them, so it is best to avoid looking at your phone screen too much, and turn off any outdoor lighting.
A popular site to track them on is Findstarlink.com, where users can see the timings of when and where Starlink is likely to be visible next.
Simply visit the website and enter your location to find the time when the satellites will be visible in your area.