A rocket launch in America on Friday night could be visible in the UK.
After the previously planned launch on Thursday night was called off, SpaceX is set to launch another batch of satellites on Friday from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
SpaceX is a US space transportation company founded by billionaire Elon Musk – and the satellites are designed to create a global satellite internet access network.
Sitting on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, they will lift off from Launchpad 39A, the same complex which sent the Apollo astronauts into space, at around 9.18pm UK time (4.18pm on the US east coast).
Around 15 minutes later, the final stage of the rocket and its cargo will pass over the UK from west to east, but it likely won’t be visible to the naked eye, according to website MeteorWatch. This is because it will still be too bright in the UK for us to see it.
However, you may see the rocket pass later on in the evening. Times are yet to be confirmed, but keeping an eye on the twitter account @VirtualAstro will help with timings.
It will appear similar to the International Space Station as it crosses the sky – a bright dot, and fast-moving. A plan of the route posted online shows it tracking further to the south of the UK, but it may be visible across the whole of the UK.
You are advised to give yourself a bit of leeway either side of the times if you head outside to spot it, as it may vary depending on factors on the day.
Over the next few nights, you are also likely to be able to see the train of 57 Starlink satellites launched from the spacecraft – the latest batch to join the hundreds of communication satellites in low earth orbit. The aim for SpaceX is to have thousands in the sky, and provide global satellite internet access.
To find out when and where the satellites are likely to pass over your head, the website See A Satellite will help. There are eight passes of the Starlink satellite constellation planned for Friday night and Saturday morning – which you may see if it’s clear enough.
This is the latest launch by SpaceX, which has been busy recently. At the end of May, they launched their first two astronauts into space to join the International Space Station. Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were the first astronauts to lift off from US soil since the end of the Space Shuttle programme almost a decade ago.