by Douglas Messier
SpaceX successfully launched 60 Starlink satellites on Monday, doubling the number of spacecraft in the broadband Internet constellation.
A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on time at 9:56 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellites were deployed an hour after liftoff.
SpaceX has received approvals from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites to provide broadband services to any part of the globe. Elon Musk’s company recently filed paperwork to launch 30,000 additional spacecraft.
SpaceX plans to begin offering Starlink service in parts of the U.S. and Canada after six launches. Twenty-four launches are required to provide service around the world.
The flight marked two important milestones for SpaceX. The Falcon 9’s first stage flew for a record fourth time. It had previously launched on the Iridium-7, SAOCOM-1A, and Nusantara Satu missions.
The first stage booster successfully touched down on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The launch also marked the first reuse of a payload fairing. The shroud previously flew on Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat6A mission earlier this year.
SpaceX’s dispatched two recovery vessels, “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief,” to attempt to recover the two fairing halves. However, the vessels were reportedly to be returning to port prior to the launch, possibly due to rough seas.