How to watch Starlink launch LIVE as Elon Musk fires 60 more satellites into space

ANOTHER 60 satellites are being fired into orbit this Sunday by SpaceX, the US rocket firm owned by billionaire Elon Musk.

The "Starlink" probes will join an ever-growing network of satellites that will one day beam cheap WiFi to people across the globe.

Although visibility won't be great this weekend over the UK and US, Sunday's takeoff will be streamed online for free by SpaceX.

Here's all you need to know about the Starlink 7 mission – including how to watch it live.

Starlink launch date, time and how to watch

The latest Starlink launch is scheduled for Sunday, May 17, at 9am BST / 4am EDT.

If all goes to plan, a Falcon 9 rocket will blast into space carrying 60 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

For UK stargazers, it'll probably be a little too bright to catch the rocket blasting into space.

However, you can watch the launch live on the SpaceX website or official YouTube channel.

US stargazers may well get a glimpse of the rocket – as well as the satellites once they've deployed roughly 15 minutes after liftoff.

The satellites are so bright that you won't need binoculars or a telescope to see them.

It goes without saying that your best chance of catching a display requires clear skies and as little light around you as possible.

Try not to stare at your phone too much and turn off outside lights to dampen the effects of light pollution.

How to track Starlink satellites in real-time

Not sure where to look? Your phone's got you covered.

There are a number of stargazing apps you can use to follow the path of Starlink probes.

On the Apple App Store, we'd recommend Night Sky, which is free and helps you find all kinds of celestial wonders.

For Android fans, Satellite Tracker should do the trick (it's also available on iPhone).

Simply head outside at a scheduled time for a Starlink passby, load up one of the apps and you should be able to spot one.

Alternatively, you can visit the Find Starlink website (or the “Find Starlink Satellites” app) and enter your location.

Is Starlink 'blocking' the night sky?

The Starlink programme is controversial among astronomers, who have slammed Musk's hare-brained scheme.

They say Starlink gets in the way of observations due to light reflected off the the satellites.

University of Western Ontario meteor researcher Denis Vida stated in a blog post last year: "One has to be concerned how will our skies look like when hearing that there are plans to launch a total of 42,000 satellites.

"This might completely deny us to do any optical meteor observations as soon as 2024."

Never one to take something lying down, Musk has lashed back at his critics, claiming the satellites have no such impact.

Speaking at a conference in Washington DC in March, he said: "I am confident that we will not cause any impact whatsoever in astronomical discoveries. Zero. That’s my prediction.

"We’ll take corrective action if it’s above zero."

SpaceX engineers are also said to be looking into making the satellites a bit less shiny so they won't reflect the sun as much.

Will Starlink 'trap' humanity on Earth?

There are concerns that humanity could be trapped on Earth by too much space junk in Earth's orbit.

That's according to one space scientist, who says Starlink could create an impenetrable wall of rubbish around our planet.

A catastrophic clutter of space debris left behind by the satellites could block rockets from leaving Earth, an effect known as "Kessler syndrome".

"The worst case is: You launch all your satellites, you go bankrupt, and they all stay there," European Space Agency scientist Dr Stijn Lemmens told Scientific American.

"Then you have thousands of new satellites without a plan of getting them out of there. And you would have a Kessler-type of syndrome."

It will take thousands of years for any SpaceX satellites left in our orbit to descend to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere.

The firm says it's already taken steps to avoid cluttering up the region. It's launching the satellites into a lower orbital plane than most space tech to avoid collisions.

How do satellite-tracking apps work?

Companies and space agencies who manage satellites need to keep track of where they are in orbit.

This is partly to help operations (be that sending GPS signals or snapping space photos) run smoothly, but it also ensures they can change course if their probe is about to collide with someone else's.

The position of satellites is recorded by multiple ground stations on Earth, which send the coordinates back to whoever is responsible for them.

Robert Frost, specialist on GPS use for space navigation, wrote on Quora: "The locations of satellites are determined using tracking from ground stations.

"The ground stations use mechanisms such as radar, signal doppler, and laser reflectors to pinpoint the position of a satellite and to maintain an understanding of its orbital elements."

Apart from spy satellites and other secretive tech, the coordinates of most space probes are available publicly.

Satellite tracking apps simply compile data offered by dozens of space agencies and companies and present it on a digital map.

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a controversial scheme that aims to beam Wi-Fi to people from space using a "mega constellation" of thousands of satellites.

“With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet … Starlink will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” the official website explains.

The project is the brainchild of tech billionaire Elon Musk, whose California-based rocket firm SpaceX builds and operates the satellites.

More than 420 have been launched so far, with the network eventually set to reach 12,000, rising to as many as 42,000 in the future.

SpaceX sends its satellites up in batches of 60 at a time. Each group is launched atop an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX.

The solar-powered tech typically orbits around 340 miles above Earth.

How the probes will affect the night sky is causing concern as they sit in a low orbit, so appear brighter than stars and planets.

In other space news, Nasa has unveiled the Tesla car that will be taking astronauts to a rocket launch later this month.

Nasa astronauts will launch into space from US soil this month for the first time in nearly a decade.

And, incredible photos of eerie Martian landscapes have been released online by scientists.

Have you spotted the Starlink satellites before? Let us know in the comments…

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