Late on Monday night, February 15, SpaceX successfully launched another 60 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The rocket's first stage landing onto one of the space company's drone ships in the Atlantic, "Of Course I Still Love You," which, however, failed to hit the target.
The launch happened at 10:59 PM EST at Space Launch Complex 40.
SpaceX used its Falcon 9 rocket for this launch, aiming to recover the rocket's stages post-launch — which it failed to do. However, as delivering the payloads to orbit is the primary focus for SpaceX, the launch can be considered a success.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/apZ7oTOvNk— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 16, 2021
Yesterday's launch was the first of two set to send Starlink satellites to orbit this week. The next 60 satellites are due to be sent to space on Wednesday 17 February aboard a different Falcon 9 rocket. This week's mission is dubbed Starlink 19, which comes shortly after Starlink 18's mission sent Starlink satellites to orbit on February 4.
The original plan was to launch two Starlink launches almost back to back, just hours apart — something not achieved since November 11, 1966, when two launches lifted off from the Eastern Range on the same day. A Twitter post on the subject was posted on the 45th Space Wing's page.
Yesterday's launch was set to take off on Sunday night, but due to poor weather at the launch site, was pushed back until Monday night.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/mcXAdid2wW— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 16, 2021
SpaceX's plans hope to surpass those of 2020, when it launched 26 missions successfully. This year, the space company aims to push those numbers even higher, to at least 40 rocket launches throughout 2021, as Space.com reported.
After yesterday's launch, there are now over 1,000 Starlink internet satellites in orbit. The goal for Starlink's first constellation is to have 1,440 satellites in operation, with many thousands more coming afterwards. The plan is to connect the world to an even higher level than we currently know, especially linking hard-to-reach parts of the planet.
Starlink is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 16, 2021