SpaceX continues on its trail to build up its orbiting Starlink satellite network with the launch on Saturday that placed 60 additional satellites into orbit. With that launch, the size of the Starlink constellation is now 895. Eventually, there will be thousands of satellites in orbit beaming broadband Internet service everywhere in the US and around the world.
Saturday’s launch was a few days later than expected due to an on-board camera issue. The rocket SpaceX used was a Falcon 9 that had flown twice before and lifted off at 11:31 AM EDT on Saturday. The rocket headed into orbit from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral.
The successful launch marked the 19th launch from SpaceX this year and the 15th Starlink mission. After putting the satellites in orbit, the Falcon 9 first stage flew back to the ground and landed on a drone ship offshore. The second stage of the rocket fired successfully, and all 60 satellites on board were deployed.
Overall, Falcon 9 rockets have made 95 successful flights, and SpaceX has had 100 successful rocket flights overall. Currently, SpaceX has the approval to put 12,000 Starlink satellites into orbit using multiple orbital planes. The constellation will provide space-based line-of-site broadband signals from any point on Earth.
The broadband service provided by the satellites is currently in beta testing in select areas of the country. An impressive factoid is that SpaceX has placed 180 satellites into orbit in less than three weeks. Reports indicate that some satellites have failed in orbit, with 20 that appear to have stopped maneuvering. In addition to those 20 presumably failed satellites, 53 have been deliberately deorbited, and two reentered the atmosphere after failures. SpaceX is seeking approval to put many more satellites into orbit.