SpaceX Finally Launches Starlink Satellite Constellation, Breaks Record for Falcon 9 Re-Use

This marks the Falcon 9 booster's fifth launch to space.
Loukia Papadopoulos

SpaceX successfully launched its latest batch of 60 satellites for its Starlink constellation. The satellites are for an internet broadband system the firm plans to launch starting later this year in the U.S. and Canada. 


Breaking a record

It also broke a record for a Falcon 9 re-use. The rocket it launched with has been to space and back four times before. Unfortunately, however, the first stage booster did not meet the landing as planned this time meaning it will be its last use.

SpaceX already tried to launch this mission on Sunday. However, the rocket shut down just before fully igniting its engines and taking off. The Falcon 9 rocket's onboard computer triggered the abort after detecting an issue with one of its engines. The mission was, therefore, postponed until today.

Today's mission featured a fairing that had also previously flown on a SpaceX Starlink launch last May. SpaceX will once more attempt to recover this fairing once it falls away from the cargo and returns to the surface.

For this purpose, it has positioned two ships at sea and equipped them with nets to catch both halves of the fairing as it parachutes back to Earth. This recovery attempt is set to take place around 45 minutes after launch.

The mission

Today's mission's purpose is to deliver the sixth batch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to space. This batch will bring the total constellation's size to 360.

The commercial operation of the constellation is planned later this year. Provided all goes to plan, the satellites will provide high-speed broadband internet to citizens in all of North America.

This internet will come with lower latency and better speeds than is currently available with today's satellite internet service.

It's nice to see that in the chaos and panic of the coronavirus outbreak, some things are not slowing down. Well done, SpaceX! Well done!

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