In a procedure that almost feels happenstance by now, but is truly anything but, SpaceX has launched 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit, the private space firm confirmed in a tweet.
At 4:28 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, March 24, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, taking the Starlink payload up to orbit.
That makes for a total of 1,321 Starlink satellites in orbit as part of the company's plans to have an enormous satellite internet constellation providing global high-speed coverage. The company has launched a total of 1,385 satellites, though a number of these have deorbited.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/Xcbrq66Mez— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 24, 2021
SpaceX also confirmed that the Falcon 9 first stage booster landed on the 'Of Course I Still Love You' drone ship landing pad on the Atlantic Ocean — last month, Feb. 15, a Falcon 9 first stage missed its landing in a rare miss.
According to a Space.com report, SpaceX has since attributed last month's failed booster landing to a worn out engine cover that allowed hot gases to reach otherwise protected machine parts — this caused one of Falcon 9's engines to fail.
Though the rocket can usually still fly after losing an engine, it was unable to slow itself enough on that occasion, causing it to land in the ocean.
Reaching Starlink's constellation goal one launch at a time
The latest launch comes in the same week that news emerged of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk holding talks with the United Kingdom for the company's Starlink fleet to potentially earn funding as part of the government's new $6.9 billion internet infrastructure program, called 'Project Gigabit.'
The Starlink fleet, which will provide 150Mbps internet speeds to rural areas, but also threatens to hinder stargazing efforts worldwide, is now delivering a beta service internationally.
Starlink is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 16, 2021
In a tweet posted on February 16, SpaceX explained that its Starlink internet is "ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge."
The goal for Starlink's first constellation is to have a total of 1,440 satellites in operation — though SpaceX ultimately aims to launch tens of thousands of satellites. The constellation project aims to digitize the world to a degree we have yet to see on a global scale.