Last night SpaceX launched 60 new Starlink internet satellites into Earth’s orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket from Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Previously, the first Starlink satellites were sent off in May 2019 and the operation was successful. This following launch has officially made SpaceX the operator of the largest satellite fleet in space, as of today.
The launch is a part of SpaceX’s plan to create a constellation of small broadband satellites, each weighing slightly more than 485 lbs. These satellites will provide internet coverage to the earthlings below. Right now, Starlink has a number of 180 satellites and is expected to grow in number by the end of this year.
With numerous curious eyes upon them, SpaceX had announced that the liftoff would be live-streamed on Youtube.
Watch live as Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites to orbit https://t.co/s0iCAk43Hq— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 7, 2020
Thankfully, the operation was successful. You can watch the entire liftoff from here.
The satellites are delivered to an orbit 290 km above Earth. Of course, their mission isn't complete yet. SpaceX will perform diagnostics to ensure they work properly, and the final act will be moving them to the targeted orbits. This will be done by satellites using their own onboard thrusters.
SpaceX used Falcon 9 on this mission for a controlled landing aboard their "Of Course I Still Love You" ship. In order to recover half of the payload fairing on this launch, the company will attempt to catch the protective Cargo cover gin with their "Ms. Tree." It is one of the two ships SpaceX has built to catch spacecraft components with a large net.
SpaceX's Starlink is aimed at providing high-speed and low-latency broadband internet connectivity to customers, starting in the U.S. and Canada. The service will potentially be available later this year.