76ºF

Liftoff: SpaceX launches rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellites

Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX on Wednesday launched another round of internet-beaming satellites.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 9:07 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 40.

The rocket was carrying 60 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit. The launch brings the company’s total of satellites in orbit to 240, more than any other company operating spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.

Three other launch attempts were all called off in the past week due to weather.

The private company successfully landed its first-stage boosters on a droneship called Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean and caught part of the rocket’s nose cone on a boat with a giant net. The catch marked the third successful fairing recovery, SpaceX said in a tweet.

Re-flying rocket hardware allows SpaceX to keep launch costs lower than its competitors by millions of dollars.

The Starlink constellation is part of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s plan to become a global internet provider, beaming internet to remote destinations around the globe and helping fund other SpaceX projects.

A Falcon 9 launched another round of satellites on Jan. 6 and the company plans to send up Starlink spacecraft every few weeks, eventually, operating thousands of satellites to create a space-based global internet.

The private space company has been working to address concerns from astronomers about the reflection created by hundreds of satellites passing in the night sky.

Ahead of the most recent Starlink launch, SpaceX provided astronomy groups with tracking data to help them coordinate their science observations.

Astronomers have voiced concerns about the growing number of satellites in low-Earth orbit due to the brightness produced by satellites and because the spacecraft can disrupt radio signals used to detect objects in space when they fly over.

Launch details to know

Rocket: Falcon 9

Payload: 60 Starlink satellites

Launch window: Jan. 29 at 9:07 a.m.

Landing: Yes, droneship in the Atlantic Ocean

Launch forecast: 80%


About the Author: