Less than a week after sending two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, SpaceX sent 60 more of its Starlink broadband internet satellites into low Earth orbit tonight, boosting the constellation to 480 satellites.
- The reusable Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:25 p.m. ET (6:25 p.m. PT). Minutes after launch, the rocket’s first stage landed on a drone ship called “Just Read the Instructions” in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the first time a SpaceX booster successfully completed five cycles of launches and landings. (SpaceX just missed achieving that first fifth landing in March.)
- Soon afterward, the Falcon 9’s second stage deployed its stack of 60 Starlink satellites, which are built at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Wash. The Starlink constellation is already being tested for broadband military communications, and limited commercial internet service could begin later this year.
- One of the satellites in this batch is equipped with a deployable visorthat’s designed to cut down on the glare of reflected sunlight. Such sunshades will be added to future Starlink satellites to address concerns about their interference with astronomical observations.