CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX early Wednesday successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, sending another batch of 60 internet-beaming Starlink satellites into orbit.
The pre-dawn launch took place at 4:28 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base Launch Complex 40, marking the 22nd mission SpaceX has dedicated to its space-based internet satellite constellation. SpaceX has also sent up the spacecraft on other ride-sharing rocket flights.
Post-launch, the Falcon 9 booster returned to Earth, landing on a droneship at sea. Earlier this month, SpaceX landed a booster for the ninth time, breaking its own re-use record.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 24, 2021
Earlier this month, NASA and SpaceX signed an agreement to formally share information to avoid possible collisions in space between Starlink satellites and NASA spacecraft.
Under the agreement, Starlink satellites will autonomously or manually maneuver to ensure NASA science satellites and other missions “can operate uninterrupted” and NASA “has agreed to not maneuver its assets in the event of a potential conjunction to ensure the parties do not inadvertently maneuver into one another,” according to a news release from NASA.
SpaceX has more than 1,200 satellites in low-Earth orbit and plans to continue launching Starlink spacecraft every few weeks. The plan is to growing that constellation by the thousands to provide internet to the world, even in remote places.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/Xcbrq66Mez— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 24, 2021
“Society depends on space-based capabilities for global communications, navigation, weather forecasting and much more,” acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk said. “With commercial companies launching more and more satellites, it’s critical we increase communications, exchange data and establish best practices to ensure we all maintain a safe space environment.”
While Starlink launches are the most frequent from Florida this year, SpaceX and NASA are preparing to launch four astronauts from Kennedy Space Center in less than a month. Another Falcon 9 will launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft with the astronauts -- two Americans, one European and one Japanese -- to the International Space Station no earlier than April 22.
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