SpaceX launches 60 more mini satellites for global internet

Falcon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral this morning

SpaceX hits two new milestones with latest Starlink launch

The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 9:56 a.m. EDT-marking the company's first mission from the site in three months.

Minutes afterward, the rocket's first stage flew itself back to what has now become a routine touchdown on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, while the second stage and its payload continued to orbit.

For the first time, SpaceX has launched and landed an orbital rocket booster on a fourth mission.

SpaceX promises to provide fast, reliable internet to areas with little or no connectivity, such as poorly served rural communities. From there, SpaceX plans 18 more additional launches to achieve basic global coverage. The company reuses rocket parts to cut costs.

"The Starlink satellites will deploy at an altitude of 280 km [174 miles]".

The new satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network are set for launch today from Cape Canaveral.

Astronomy aside, the Starlink network is meant to give "high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity, ideally throughout the world", SpaceX founder Elon Musk said earlier this year. However, there is still some way to go before this is feasible. On the eve of the launch, SpaceX said one of the satellites may not be able to raise its orbit - but the satellites are created to burn up completely in the atmosphere once their orbits decay.

Monday's launch, along with 60 satellites launched in May and another four batches planned for the next year or so, will put about 360 satellites into orbit, providing coverage over much of the United States and Canada in 2020.

There have been concerns raised in some quarters about Musk's Spacelink plans. Each satellite weighs 260 kg.

SpaceX plans to continue launching Starlink satellites in batches and aims to provide service to parts of the northern USA and Canada next year, according to Starlink's website.

Astronomers say the proliferation of the bright metallic satellites could seriously degrade the night view, interfering with telescopes trained on space. "Once the checkouts are complete, the satellites will then use their onboard ion thrusters to move into their intended orbits". Earlier this year, Inc. received permission to put more than 3,000 internet satellites in orbit, while London-based OneWeb developing its own space-based telecommunications network. "This will provide a competitive option for them". SpaceX in a tweet mentioned that the operational satellites will be completely destroyed once it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. SpaceX shared the mission in a live video Monday, where spectators worldwide could easily tune in and watch.

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