SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft with two astronauts takes off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral of Florida, the United States, on May 30, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)
U.S. private space company SpaceX successfully launched its 11th Starlink mission on Tuesday, carrying 58 Starlink satellites and three of Planet’s SkySats to orbit.
A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 10:31 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Following stage separation, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 first stage landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Planet’s SkySats were deployed sequentially beginning about 12 and a half minutes after liftoff, and the 58 Starlink satellites were deployed approximately 46 minutes after liftoff.
It marks the first time a booster has completed six flights. Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018, the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019, and three separate Starlink missions in May 2019, January and June this year.
Starlink will deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable, according to SpaceX.
Starlink is targeting service in the Northern United States and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.
SpaceX planned to launch into space about 12,000 Starlink satellites by 2024, and has revealed a bigger plan to launch 30,000 additional ones, bringing the total to 42,000.
Each satellite weighs about 260 kilograms and features a compact, flat-panel design that minimizes volume, allowing for a dense launch stack to take full advantage of the launch capabilities of the Falcon 9 rocket, according to SpaceX.