CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – After the wind and a software update caused two launch attempts last week, SpaceX launched 60 internet satellites into near-Earth orbit on Thursday night.
The 60 Starlink satellites clogged in the nose cone or fairings of the Falcon 9 rocket are, according to CEO Elon Musk, the heaviest payload ever for a SpaceX rocket weighing nearly 19 tons.
Successful provision of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed! pic.twitter.com/eYrLocCiws
̵1; SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 24, 2019
SpaceX released the successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites.
It's not entirely clear that all 60 satellites are fully functional, but according to CNN, Musk and SpaceX tweets confirm that everything ran smoothly in the hours after the start.
The satellites are the first round in a much larger constellation of thousands of spacecraft that, according to Musk, will eventually provide an affordable high-speed Internet around the world.
Last week, SpaceX canceled the launch just before separate attempts on Wednesday and Thursday.
About two hours before the launch window opened on Thursday, SpaceX officials delayed the launch to update the satellite software and "triple check everything". The launch of Falcon 9 on Wednesday was scrubbed due to strong winds in the upper layers.
SpaceX will also try to restore the flight-proven booster after launching on Thursday. The booster sets about eight minutes after launch on the drone ship Of course, I still love you in the Atlantic.
Musk said in a teleconference with reporters last week that the use of satellites about a hour after launch could look a little different than previous spacecraft deployments.
When the 60 satellites leave the rocket slowly, it looks like "a deck of cards is being spread out on a table," Musk said. Some contact between the spacecraft is expected, but they should handle it, he said.
Musk said the first round of Starlink satellites will be a learning process for SpaceX. The use of dozens of spacecraft is risky for the satellites.
Within two to three hours of deployment, SpaceX knows if the satellites have survived.
This launch is just the beginning for Starlink. Musk said in a call with reporters on Wednesday that he could see 1,000 to 2,000 satellites starting per year. He said that at some point SpaceX satellites would be more in orbit than any other spaceship.
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