The U.S. private space company SpaceX launched its second batch of 60 Starlink satellites into space on Monday, in an effort to build a 12,000-strong or even more satellite network capable of providing broadband internet services.
The Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the satellites, was lifted off at 9:56 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (1456 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force, Florida, according to SpaceX live broadcast.
It came after SpaceX deployed its first batch of 60 Starlink satellites into the orbits on May 23. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced on Oct. 22 that those broadband satellites are functioning.
SpaceX designed Starlink to connect end users with low-latency and high-bandwidth broadband services by providing continual coverage around the world using a network of thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit, according to the company.
About an hour after the liftoff, the Starlink satellites started to be deployed at an altitude of 280 kilometers. After data checkouts, those satellites, weighing about 260 kilograms each, will be raised into their targeted higher orbits via onboard ion thrusters.
The launch set multiple records for SpaceX’s reusable rocket. It was its heaviest payload to date, first re-flight of a faring and first Falcon 9 to fly a fourth mission, according to SpaceX.
The rocket’s first stage has landed on an offshore droneship about eight minutes after the launch. The stage once supported the Iridium-7, SAOCOM-1A, and Nusantara Satu missions. Also, the fairing used in today’s launch was previously flown on Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat-6A mission earlier this year.
SpaceX has updated the Starlink design since the Starlink launch in May. Its spectrum capacity has been increased for the end-user, maximizing the use of both Ka and Ku bands. Also, components of each satellite are 100 percent demisable and will quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their life cycle.
SpaceX is expected to bring into space about 12,000 starlink satellites by 2024, and it has revealed a bigger plan to launch 30,000 additional ones, bringing the total to 42,000.
Starlink network is targeted to offer service in parts of the U.S. and Canada after six launches, and expand to global coverage of the populated world after 24 launches, according to SpaceX.