Starlink mission Wednesday evening from KSC

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Launch summary: Scroll down to check out live coverage of the Wednesday, April 17, SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket liftoff from Cape Canaveral.

It's launch day — for the evening rush-hour liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Welcome to FLORIDA TODAY's Space Team's live coverage of the SpaceX Starlink 6-51 mission tonight. SpaceX is targeting 5:26 PM EST to launch its Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A.

Falcon 9 will deploy another payload of 23 Starlink Internet satellites, which are positioned inside the fascia atop the 230-foot rocket, into low Earth orbit.

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No sonic booms are expected in Central Florida. After soaring toward the sky along a southeast trajectory, the rocket's first stage booster will aim to land on a drone ship at sea 8 and a half minutes after liftoff.

Update 5:44 p.m.: A Falcon 9 rocket's first stage booster has landed on a SpaceX drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” in the Atlantic Ocean, completing its 12th mission.

Update 5:39 p.m.: SpaceX's launch webcast was interrupted shortly after liftoff, for unknown reasons.

Update 5:26 p.m.: SpaceX just launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 Starlink satellites from pad 39A at KSC.

Update 5:21 p.m.: The SpaceX launch webcast hosted on X (formerly Twitter) is now posted above, directly below the countdown clock.

Liftoff is scheduled within five minutes from KSC.

Update 5:16 p.m.: With just 10 minutes left in the Falcon 9 countdown today, it looks like everything is going as planned.

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Update 5:10 p.m.: Tonight's mission marks the 12th flight of the Falcon 9 first stage booster, SpaceX said.

This booster has previously logged the following flights: Crew-5, GPS III Space Vehicle 06, Inmarsat I6-F2, CRS-28, Intelsat G-37, NG-20 and five Starlink missions.

After stage separation, the crew expects the booster to land on top of a SpaceX drone ship. Read instructions only in the Atlantic Ocean 8 minutes and 24 seconds after take-off.

Update at 5 p.m.: Brevard County Emergency Management officials have activated the agency's launch support team ahead of SpaceX's upcoming Falcon 9 launch.

Update 4:52 p.m.: SpaceX has just announced that Falcon 9 refueling procedures are now underway at Pad 39A “with clear blue skies.”

This means tonight's Starlink countdown is now over for liftoff at 5:26pm without any delay, otherwise the launch must be postponed.

Update 4:40 p.m.: Here's a summary of SpaceX's upcoming behind-the-scenes countdown timeline. T minus:

  • 38 minutes: SpaceX's launch director checks the “launch” of propellant loading.
  • 35 minutes: The loading of rocket kerosene and the first stage of liquid oxygen begins.
  • 16 minutes: The second stage of liquid oxygen loading begins.
  • 7 minutes: The Falcon 9 begins engine cooling before launch.
  • 1 minute: The flight command computer begins final pre-launch checks; The fuel tank pressure starts until it reaches cruising pressure.
  • 45 seconds: SpaceX's launch director checks the “go” for the launch.
  • 3 seconds: The engine control module controls the start of the engine ignition sequence.
  • 0 seconds: Leaves.

Update 4:25 p.m.: As a reminder, FAA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency navigational warnings indicate that the missile launch window will open Thursday evening. More details:

  • a task: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch another batch of Starlink internet satellites.
  • Launch window: 6:40 PM to 11:11 PM
  • location: Launch of Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
  • a path: southeast.
  • Local sonic boom: no.
  • Booster landing: Drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Live coverage: Starts 90 minutes before takeoff at floridatoday.com/space.
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Update 4:10 p.m.: The Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron forecast 90% “launch” weather conditions at Cape Canaveral in preparation for SpaceX's liftoff today. Thick cloud layers pose the primary meteorological hazard.

“A line of surface high pressure extending from the mid-Atlantic to the Florida peninsula will remain largely in place over the next few days as a series of systems pass well to the north,” the squadron forecast said.

“Although moisture in the lower atmosphere will be limited and shallow, upper-level variable clouds are expected to extend over a ridge centered across the Gulf of Mexico and make their way into Florida,” the forecast said.

For the latest news and launch schedule from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and KSC, visit floridatoday.com/space.

Rick Neil He is Florida Today's space correspondent (for more of his stories, click here.) Call Neil on [email protected]. Twitter/X: @Rick Neal1

Space is important to us, which is why we work to provide the highest coverage of industry and launch operations in Florida. Such journalism requires time and resources. Please support him by subscribing here.

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