On Saturday, June 13, SpaceX launched another batch of Starlink satellites, bringing its total to 540 units. The launch took place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida using the Falcon 9 rocket, which was successfully landed at sea soon after the launch. In addition to the Starlink satellites, SpaceX also launched three small satellites called Skysats intended for observing Earth.
The Starlink satellites are designed to beam Internet service back down to Earth, providing broadband access to communities that are unable to get it through traditional systems. SpaceX plans to launch thousands of these satellites in batches; it is also introducing a beta of its service for select users starting this year.
Saturday’s launch involved 58 of the satellites, bringing the number of Starlink units in space to 540. The launch itself was uneventful, but took place very early in the morning with the backdrop of a particularly beautiful sky, leading to some incredible images of the rocket as it streaked past the clouds. As usual, SpaceX has shared videos and images of the launch on its Twitter account.
SpaceX is rapidly expanding its number of active Starlink satellites; it already had one launch this month and it plans another that will take place within the next handful of days. The Falcon 9 first stage used for Saturday’s flight has already launched two past missions, both of them resupply runs to the International Space Station.
With June’s launches, SpaceX grows closer to the 800 Starlink satellites it will take to offer ‘moderate’ Internet coverage to its initial customers. SpaceX’s next launch likely won’t involve the typical 60 Starlink units, with Space.com reporting that the private space company will also launch two satellites for Seattle company BlackSky Global.