SpaceX launch recap: Starlink mission Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida

Launch recap: Scroll down to review live coverage of the Wednesday, April 17, liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

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

Welcome to FLORIDA TODAY's Space Team live coverage of tonight’s SpaceX Starlink 6-51 mission. SpaceX is targeting 5:26 p.m. EDT to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A.

This Falcon 9 will deploy another payload of 23 Starlink internet satellites, which are packed inside the fairing atop the 230-foot rocket, into low-Earth orbit.

Cape Canaveral: Is there a launch today? Upcoming rocket launch schedule for SpaceX, ULA, NASA in Florida

No Central Florida sonic booms are expected. After soaring skyward along a southeasterly trajectory, the rocket's first-stage booster will target landing aboard a drone ship out at sea 8½ minutes after liftoff.

Countdown Timer

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster lands

Update 5:44 p.m.: The Falcon 9 first-stage booster has landed aboard SpaceX's drone ship Just Read the Instructions out on the Atlantic Ocean, completing its 12th mission.

SpaceX webcast goes offline

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


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

SpaceX launch webcast begins

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

Liftoff is scheduled in five minutes from KSC.

SpaceX countdown: 10 minutes to go

Update 5:16 p.m.: With only 10 minutes remaining in today's Falcon 9 countdown, all appears to be proceeding as planned.

SpaceX booster to land on drone ship

Update 5:10 p.m.: Tonight's mission marks the 12th flight for this Falcon 9 first-stage booster, SpaceX reported.

This booster 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.

Following stage separation, crews expect the booster to land atop the SpaceX drone ship Just Read the Instructions out on the Atlantic Ocean 8 minutes, 24 seconds after liftoff.

Spectators watch as a SpaceX first-stage booster returns to Port Canaveral aboard Just Read the Instructions on July 4, 2020.
Spectators watch as a SpaceX first-stage booster returns to Port Canaveral aboard Just Read the Instructions on July 4, 2020.

SpaceX launch prep underway in Brevard

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

SpaceX Falcon 9 fueling now underway

Update 4:52 p.m.: Falcon 9 fueling procedures are now underway at pad 39A "with clear blue skies," SpaceX just announced.

That means tonight’s Starlink countdown is now locked in to lift off at 5:26 p.m. without any delays, or else the launch must be postponed.

SpaceX launch countdown timeline

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

  • 38 minutes: SpaceX launch director verifies “go” for propellant load.

  • 35 minutes: Rocket-grade kerosene and first-stage liquid oxygen loading begins.

  • 16 minutes: Second-stage liquid oxygen loading begins.

  • 7 minutes: Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch.

  • 1 minute: Command flight computer begins final prelaunch checks; propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins.

  • 45 seconds: SpaceX launch director verifies “go” for launch.

  • 3 seconds: Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start.

  • 0 seconds: Liftoff.

SpaceX targeting Starlink launch Thursday

Update 4:25 p.m.: As a reminder, Federal Aviation Administration and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency navigational warnings indicate a rocket launch window will open Thursday night. More details:

  • Mission: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch another batch of Starlink internet satellites.

  • Launch window: 6:40 p.m. to 11:11 p.m.

  • Location: Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

  • Trajectory: Southeast.

  • Local sonic boom: No.

  • Booster landing: Drone ship out on the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Live coverage: Starts 90 minutes before liftoff at

Space Force: 90% favorable launch weather

Update 4:10 p.m.: The Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron predicted 90% "go for launch" weather conditions at Cape Canaveral for today's SpaceX liftoff. Thick cloud layers pose the primary meteorological risk.

"A surface ridge of high pressure extending from the central Atlantic to the Florida peninsula will remain largely in place the next several days as a series of systems pass by well to the north," the squadron's forecast said.

"While moisture in the lower atmosphere will be limited and shallow, variable upper-level cloudiness is expected to spill over a ridge centered across the Gulf of Mexico and make its way into Florida," the forecast said.

For the latest news and launch schedule from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and KSC, visit

Rick Neale is a Space Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY (for more of his stories, click here.) Contact Neale at Twitter/X: @RickNeale1

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: SpaceX launch recap: Starlink mission Wednesday evening from KSC