SpaceX Falcon 9 liftoff from Cape Canaveral marks 13th Starlink launch of the year.
SpaceX continues to move closer to its goal of becoming a global internet provider with each Starlink satellite launch and this week marked the 13th Starlink launch of the year.
The private company launched about 60 internet-beaming satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Launch Complex 40 at 2:59 p.m. Wednesday.
“With every launch we get closer to connecting more people across the world,” SpaceX Dragon propulsion engineer Youmei Zhou said during Wednesday’s livestream. “As they launch more satellites, install more ground stations and continue to improve our networking software, our data speed latency and uptime will improve dramatically.”
Weather across Florida has been extremely dry for the wet season, continuing to be ideal for rocket launching. Wednesday’s forecast was no different, according to the 45th Weather Squadron. Conditions were expected to be 90% favorable for the launch window.
The Falcon 9 launched into the clear blue Florida sky and parts of the rocket later returned to Earth.
SpaceX recovered the Falcon 9 booster after the launch, landing it on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. This marked the 63rd landing at sea for the company.
The rocket booster previously launched on one other mission. Half of the rocket’s nose cone, called a fairing, has flown on four other missions and with its fifth flight Wednesday the hardware marked a new milestone for SpaceX as the fairing with most reuse.
This launch marked the third spaceflight for the other half of the nose cone. SpaceX will recover both halves after they splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean using its recovery boats, Go Searcher and Go Navigator, the same vessels that recover SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules.
“Today’s flight also marks the 40th time SpaceX has re-flown fairing halves since November 2019,” SpaceX space operations engineer Silva Bharadvaj said.
The liftoff marked the 29th dedicated Starlink launch for SpaceX, which now has about 1,600 satellites orbiting the Earth providing internet to multiple countries, including here in the U.S. and Canada. Starlink internet kits can be purchased for about $500 and service is $99 a month. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said it needs more customers before the service price can become more affordable.
Zhou, a SpaceX engineer, said Starlink service is now available in New Zealand, Australia and several areas in Europe.