On Thursday, SpaceX sent a packed rocket of 60 satellites into space, an essential first mission towards building the company’s high-speed internet network.
This is the first full launch of SpaceX “Starlink” satellites. The 60 satellites represent the first launch of dozens more, as SpaceX plans to launch thousands of the Starlink satellites to create an interconnected network to beam high-speed internet to consumers anywhere in the world.
At 10:30 pm, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida with a bundle of 60 Starlink satellites on board, the first satellites designed to work within this constellation. After eight minutes of the launch, the early stage of the rocket successfully landed on the drone ship, in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the third flight for the first stage booster, having flown on the Telsat 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018, and the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019.
More than one hour later, some 270 miles above Earth, the cluster of satellites – part of a system called Starlink – pushed off from the rocket that carried it to orbit. The individual satellites slowly began to drift toward their unique journeys above the planet. If successful, the devices could be turned on sometime on Friday.
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Earlier, SpaceX had launched two test satellites, but this launch will be a significant step towards launching and operating 12,000 satellites in orbit to beam internet to the planet by the 2020s. By next year, SpaceX hopes that hundreds of the devices could be circling the earth, beaming high-speed internet service everywhere.