SpaceX launch: Elon Musk and co set for liftoff TONIGHT

SpaceX will launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets on December 16, with the launch window opening from 19.10 EST (00.10 GMT December 17). Elon Musk’s reusable rocket will be carrying two loads which will be released when it gets to orbit. One satellite is the JCSAT-18 satellite which was built by Boeing for SKY Perfect JSAT – one of the largest providers of multi-channel pay TV broadcast services in Japan which also operates a satellite communications business.

The satellite will provide improved mobile and broadband capabilities for the the Asia-Pacific region, including the far eastern part of Russia.

The second satellite is the Kacific1, a next-generation geostationary satellite.

This satellite will massively increase the amount of people able to access broadband and internet for underserved populations in South East Asia and the Pacific Islands, with the focus on broadband for healthcare, education, government services, businesses, and disaster relief.

The Kacific1 will be permanently positioned over Asia.

SpaceX will launch Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, where almost perfect conditions are being forecasted and a 90 percent chance of the launch going ahead.

Forecasters from the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron said: “High pressure across the region will slide east into the Atlantic on Monday, allowing increasing southeasterly flow along the Space Coast.

“Conditions look to remain dry for the launch window with only a few cumulus clouds.”

Before the end of the year, SpaceX has plans to launch 60 more micro-satellites for its Starlink project, which has come under scrutiny.

Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite broadband project that will eventually see tens of thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth to deliver internet to every corner of the globe.

However, astronomers believe this will ruin their view of the night’s sky.

Earlier this year, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) said in a statement: “The scientific concerns are twofold.

“Firstly, the surfaces of these satellites are often made of highly reflective metal, and reflections from the Sun in the hours after sunset and before sunrise make them appear as slow-moving dots in the night sky.

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“Although most of these reflections may be so faint that they are hard to pick out with the naked eye, they can be detrimental to the sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes, including the extreme wide-angle survey telescopes currently under construction.

“Secondly, despite notable efforts to avoid interfering with radio astronomy frequencies, aggregate radio signals emitted from the satellite constellations can still threaten astronomical observations at radio wavelengths.

“Recent advances in radio astronomy, such as producing the first image of a black hole or understanding more about the formation of planetary systems, were only possible through concerted efforts in safeguarding the radio sky from interference.”

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