SpaceX deployed 60 more Starlink internet-beaming spacecraft into orbit after a fiery late-night blastoff of a Falcon 9 rocket Wednesday night from Cape Canaveral, surpassing the 1,500-satellite mark since Starlink launches began. Another Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to haul the next batch of Starlink satellites to space next week.
The launch of the newest 60 Starlink satellites came soon after the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved a SpaceX request to fly the rest of the company’s near-term Starlink spacecraft at lower altitudes.
SpaceX deployed the 60 quarter-ton Starlink satellites about an hour after they lifted off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Station at 11:44 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0344 GMT) Thursday.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket soared into a clear night sky over Florida’s Space Coast, blazing a trail to the northeast over the Atlantic Ocean to align with the Starlink network’s orbital geometry. Nine kerosene-fed Merlin 1D engines on the Falcon 9’s first stage booster produced 1.7 million pounds of thrust in the first two-and-a-half minutes of flight.
Then the Falcon 9’s booster shut down and separated, beginning maneuvers aided by cold gas thrusters, grid fins, and engine retro-burns to land on SpaceX’s drone ...