Elon Musk's SpaceX on Monday launched 60 more Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit, bringing the company's Starlink satellite broadband internet service closer to its planned mid-2020 go-live date for the U.S. and Canada.
SpaceX is celebrating the successful launch and landing of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral this morning.
The latest batch was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, which makes it the fourth mission for this SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster.
SpaceX called off an attempt to use two vessels to catch the fairing - the nose cone that protects the payload - out of concern about sea conditions.
It was the fourth launch of this first-stage booster - the most for SpaceX, which aimed to recover it again offshore.
The rocket company will be able to launch a global Starlink satellite broadband service after 24 additional launches, at which point the North American service is scheduled to be available. "And what they've actually put up there are really bright satellites".
SpaceX employees in Redmond, Wash., give a cheer during the countdown to the Falcon 9 launch. SpaceX is studying the satellite no doubt. After data checkouts, those satellites, weighing about 260 kilograms each, will be raised into their targeted higher orbits via onboard ion thrusters. "Chief", will be standing by with large nets to capture the two halves of the payload fairing as they descend under parachutes. However, professional astronomers were apprehensive that the satellite would affect and cause some delays in the scientific observations, as well as the amateur appreciation of the stars. SpaceX later said it corrected the problem.
Although a comprehensive analysis is far from complete, the Starlink satellites are regularly peaking at magnitudes between 4 and 7; a visibility that is bright enough to see without a telescope.
Monday's launch, alongside 60 satellites propelled in May and another four batches got ready for the next year or so, will put around 360 satellites into orbit, giving coverage over a significant part of the United States and Canada in 2020.
Starlink is targeted to offer service in parts of the US and Canada after six launches, rapidly expanding to global coverage of the populated world after 24 launches.