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SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites

SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink SatellitesSpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites

SpaceX kicked off 2020 with the record-breaking launch of its third batch of Starlink satellites. Sixty of the internet-beaming satellites launched atop a used Falcon 9 booster on Monday. 
The sooty Falcon 9 rocket roared to life at 9:19 p.m. EST (0219 GMT Tuesday), lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Its nine Merlin 1D engines lit up the night sky above the space coast as it climbed towards orbit, Space.com reported.
"Liftoff! Go, Starlink, go, Falcon [on the] Space Force inaugural launch," a SpaceX launch commentator said. 
The mission was the first launch under the watch of the newly-minted US Space Force, a military branch that US President Donald Trump signed into law last month.
The satellites rode into space atop a reused Falcon 9 first stage, marking the second time the company has flown a booster four times. The star of this mission, dubbed B1049.4 by SpaceX, previously lofted the first batch of Starlink satellites as well as the Iridium-8 and Telstar 18 VANTAGE missions. 
SpaceX successfully launched 60 new Starlink broadband internet satellites into orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Jan. 6. The launch made SpaceX the operator of the largest satellite fleet in space today.
About 8.5 minutes after launch, the first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 returned to Earth for a successful landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You stationed 339 miles off the US East Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the fourth flight (and landing) for the reusable booster.
SpaceX designed its Falcon 9 rocket to fly as many as 10 times with only light refurbishments in between. The company has yet to fly a booster five times, but with four successful flights under this booster's belt, it is likely that it could fly again in the future.
The launch is part of the private spaceflight company's plan to create a constellation of small broadband satellites, each weighing slightly more than 220 kilograms that will provide internet coverage to the world below. With this launch, it brings SpaceX's burgeoning constellation up to 180 satellites, making it the largest satellite fleet in orbit. 
SpaceX is not the one aerospace company with plans of connecting the globe. OneWeb launched its first set of six satellites in 2019, but SpaceX (with its own rockets) has quickly amassed a sizable constellation. 
Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and founder, has said the company will need at least 400 satellites in orbit to provide minimal coverage, and at least 800 to provide moderate coverage. That coverage could begin sometime this year, with it rolling out first in portions of the US and Canada.

 

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