SpaceX has been keeping busy. Within a week of launching two astronauts as part of the first-ever commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), it's now successfully deployed 60 more satellites into orbit as part of its Starlink mission.
The launch happened on the night of June 3rd from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The company shared the live details of the deployment via its Twitter account.
A big week for SpaceX
In comparison to last Saturday's shiny new Falcon 9 rocket launch with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard, last night's launch was a little more "tried and tested."
A veteran Falcon 9 rocket deployed 60 more satellites for SpaceX's Starlink mission, which had already lifted off four times before this week's launch. The rocket took off at 9:25 PM EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/adsQIKfT0F— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 4, 2020
The most recent launch of Starlink satellites prior to this week's one was in March this year. However, the March launch encountered some difficulty with its engine as it rose up into the sky, and the booster missed its landing on a droneship at sea, rendering it useless for future use. The satellites made it to orbit nonetheless.
After the incident, SpaceX changed some of its procedures, and last night's launch went completely as planned. The deployment marked the eighth 60-satellite mission as part of the Starlink project, bringing the total number of SpaceX satellites in orbit up to 482.
The company's plan is to ultimately have 12,000 satellites in space, so as to provide ultra-fast broadband in hard-to-reach areas or places where internet is too expensive.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/N0INm0pPAb— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 4, 2020
Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO, had explained that at least 400 Starlink satellites had to be deployed before the company could start offering minimal internet coverage, and in order to provide moderate coverage, they need at least 800 satellites up there, something you could expect to see by the end of this year.
Due to the high number of satellites SpaceX is planning on launching into orbit, concerns over their brightness, which would disrupt astronomical observations as well as views of the sky by the naked eye, have been voiced. To this end, the company has been working on different ways to reduce the satellites' brightness. Future satellites will have what SpaceX calls "sunshades" — something that acts as a kind of visor that minimizes the satellite's reflectivity.