A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from pad 39A Thursday with 60 more Starlink satellites. Credit: SpaceX
Sixty more satellites launched Thursday from the Kennedy Space Center to join SpaceX’s Starlink fleet, adding coverage to the broadband network as it is already “well into the first phase of testing.”
The next 60 Starlink relay nodes blasted off at 8:46:14 a.m. EDT (1246:14 GMT) Thursday on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, riding SpaceX’s workhorse launcher into an orbit more between about 130 miles and 210 miles (210 and 340 kilometers) above Earth.
Nine main engines powered the Falcon 9 off pad 39A at the Florida spaceport, then vectored their thrust to steer the rocket toward the northeast to line up with an orbital plane in the Starlink satellite fleet.
After finishing its job on Thursday’s launch, the Falcon 9’s reusable first stage booster landed on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” holding position in the Atlantic Ocean a couple hundred miles east of Charleston, South Carolina.
The propulsive pinpoint landing marked the 60th time SpaceX has recovered a Falcon 9 booster, and it completed the second trip to space and back for the specific rocket flown Thursday.