SpaceX has successfully launched its latest batch of 60 Starlink satellites aboard a Falcon 9. The launch increased the size of the Starlink constellation to more than 700 individual satellites.
The 60-satellite payload was launched aboard a flight-proven Falcon 9 from Pad 39 A at the Kennedy Space Center. The rocket’s 9 Merlin engines were ignited at 12:46 UTC and after clearing the pad, it raced skyward.
After a two and half minute first stage burn, the second stage separated and continued on leaving the booster to return to Earth.
The booster utilized for today’s launch was flight-proven and had previously been used to launch the GPS III-03 satellite for the US Space Force in June. Following stage separation and an entry burn, the booster was recovered for a second time touching down on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship stationed in the Atlantic.
In addition to the booster, SpaceX had planned to attempt to recover both fairing halves with the Ms. Chief and Ms. Tree recovery vehicles deployed to the Atlantic. However, no announcement regarding the outcome of the attempts was made, which likely indicates neither recovery boat had a successful day.
Just under 15 minutes after the Falcon 9 left the pad, the 60 Starlink satellites safely drifted away from the rocket’s upper stage ready to begin their mission to bring broadband to the world.
Following today’s launch, SpaceX made a rare announcement regarding the early testing of the Starlink network. The launch provider confirmed that the Starlink team was conducting latency and speed tests of the system and that results were promising.
“Results from these tests have shown super low latency and download speeds greater than 100 mbps – fast enough to stream multiple HD movies at once and still have bandwidth to spare.”
Although there has not yet been any independent confirmation, the data appears to show the Starlink network could be as capable as SpaceX promised, something critics said was impossible.