After weather conditions delayed the launch of 60 Starlink satellites two weeks ago, SpaceX finally fired off a Falcon 9 rocket packed with production-grade satellites to begin building a network that it hopes will provide high-speed internet to every spot on the planet.
SpaceX Launches the First of Thousands of Starlink Satellites
Tonight, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket packed with 60 production-grade Starlink satellites, sending into orbit the first round of satellites that it plans to grow into a network of just over 11,000 satellites that will bring high-speed Internet access to every point on the Earth's surface.
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The Falcon 9 launch took place right on time, at 10:30 PM EST thanks to clear weather and no high altitude winds.
After clearing the lower atmosphere, the first stage booster detached and made it's way back to Earth.
Several seconds afterward, the second stage engine engaged, carrying the satellite payload on its way to the necessary altitude for the planned orbital deployment of the Starlink satellites.
Just as the second stage engine cut-off occurred, the stage one booster successfully landed on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You off the coast of Cape Canavarel, the third such recovery for this particular booster rocket, demonstrating the effectiveness of rocket reusability.
We're about 10 minutes away from the deployment of the Starlink satellite payload. The second stage rocket containing the payload just completed a brief, three-second engine burn to achieve the proper altitude for satellite deployment, which is about 273 miles (440 kilometers) above the Earth. The rocket is currently south east of Australia at the moment, traveling at 16,460 miles per hour (26,489 kilometers per hour), which will be how fast the Starlink satellite network will be orbiting the Earth once deployed.
Update: At about 11:32:10 PM EST, the stack of 60 Starlink satellites successfully deployed in orbit above the Earth.