CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – After winds and a software update caused two launch attempts to scrub last week, SpaceX launched 60 internet satellites into low-Earth orbit Thursday night.
The 60 Starlink satellites jam-packed inside the Falcon 9 rocket's nose cone, or fairings, make up the heaviest payload ever for a SpaceX rocket, weighing almost 19 tons, according to CEO Elon Musk.
Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed! pic.twitter.com/eYrLocCiws— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 24, 2019
SpaceX posted the deployment of 60 Starlink satellites was successful.
It's not year clear if all 60 satellites are fully functional, but tweets from Musk and SpaceX appeared to confirm everything was running smoothly in the hours after launch.
The satellites are the first round in a much larger constellation of thousands of spacecraft that will eventually provide affordable high-speed internet around the world, according to Musk.
Last week, SpaceX called off liftoff shortly before separate attempts on Wednesday and Thursday.
About two hours before the launch window opened Thursday, SpaceX officials delayed the launch to update satellite software and "triple-check everything." Wednesday's Falcon 9 launch was scrubbed due to excess upper level winds.
SpaceX also successfully recovered the flight-proven booster after Thursday's launch. The booster touched down on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean about eight minutes after liftoff.
Musk said in a tweet the rocket's fairings, or nose cone, were also recovered.
Musk said in a call with reporters last week that as the satellites begin deploying about one hour after launch it may look a little different than previous spacecraft deployment.
As the 60 satellites slowly leave the rocket, it will look like "spreading a deck of cards on a table," Musk said. There is expected to be some contact between the spacecraft but they are designed to handle it, he said.
Musk said the first round of Starlink satellites will be a learning process for SpaceX. Deploying dozens of spacecraft is risky for the satellites.
Within two to three hours after deployment SpaceX will know if the satellites survived.
This launch is just the beginning for Starlink. Musk said he can see 1,000 to 2,000 satellites launching a year. He said eventually SpaceX satellites would total more than all other spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.