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When is the next SpaceX launch happening?



If you see a streak in the sky Thursday evening, don’t worry. It’s probably the launch of the SpaceX rocket from California.

PHOENIX — Keep your cameras handy tonight. Another Starlink mission launch is scheduled for the evening of May 9.

According to the SpaceX website, the launch is expected to happen around 8:20 p.m. PT from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. 

The launch was originally scheduled for 7:37 p.m. on May 8.

If the launch gets delayed, backup opportunities are available until 10:18 p.m. PT. People will be able to watch a stream of the launch from the company’s website.

This is the fourth flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched USSF-62, and two Starlink missions. 

What is Starlink? 

Starlink is “the world’s first and largest satellite constellation using a low Earth orbit to deliver broadband internet capable of supporting streaming, online gaming, video calls and more,” according to the service’s website.  

The “constellation” of satellites consists of thousands of satellites that orbit Earth at an altitude of about 550 km, or 341 3/4 miles.   

The satellites connect to antennas that users set up at their home to provide internet access.  

What SpaceX launches look like in Arizona 

Launches happen regularly out of California and create a light display over Arizona. 

Dr. Vishnu Reddy,  a scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, studies space situational awareness and basically … knows a lot about space. 

He told 12News the reason the SpaceX rockets light up the sky is not because the engines burn brightly (although they do), it’s because of something called the Twilight Phenomenon.

“The sun might have set for us here in Arizona, but it hasn’t set in California,” Reddy said. “So it’s catching that sunlight and reflecting off.”

In short, the rocket launches far away, in California. but it goes so high that we can see it in Arizona. And when we see it, it’s not in the shadow of nightfall, even though Arizona is. The “glow” is sunlight hitting the exhaust trail, even while we perceive the sky to be black.

“If you are at the top of a mountain, you can see the sunset much longer than people at the base of the mountain,” Reddy said. So, think of the rocket as the top of the mountain while you’re at the bottom. 

RELATED: SpaceX launches look like comets over Arizona. This is why

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