SpaceX has launched its latest batch of Starlink internet satellites, a full complement of 60 spacecraft that will join those already on orbit to add to the constellation. These will form the backbone of SpaceX’s broadband internet service, which will aim to provide low-latency, high-speed connections to customers and regions where quality, consistent service hasn’t been available.
The launch took place at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, from SpaceX’s launch facility at 8:46 AM EDT (5:46 AM PDT). The Falcon 9 rocket used on the launch included a first-stage booster that flew once previously — just a few months ago in June. SpaceX also successfully recovered the Falcon 9 booster once again with a controlled landing at sea on its “Of Course I Still Love You” drone landing ship.
The company will also be attempting to recover the fairing used to protect the satellites during launch for this mission, which includes two halves that have a combined value of around $6 million per launch.
Lately, SpaceX has been flying Starlink missions with shared payloads, dedicating a small amount of the available cargo space to clients, including Planet and others for their own satellites. Today’s launch was a return to form of earlier Starlink missions, carrying only SpaceX’s own satellites. This was the 12th total Starlink mission, and the 10th this year alone.
SpaceX also confirmed that its Starlink service is currently in private beta testing, and that a public beta test is planned for later this year. The company hopes to begin to offer paid service more broadly next year.