What you need to know about today's SpaceX launch


These 60 satellites follow 60 launched in May, but whereas those, and two launched a year ago, were for testing purposes, this new batch is the first in a series of launches that will ready the constellation for providing internet service to consumers. It is the second batch in a planned constellation of thousands meant to provide broadband service around the world.

For the first time, SpaceX has launched and landed an orbital rocket booster on a fourth mission.

The launch took place at Cape Canaveral in Florida, and the Falcon 9 rocket used included a booster stage that has flown not once, not twice - but three times previously.

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SpaceX is targeting Monday, November 11 at 9:56 a.m. EST, 14:56 UTC, for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The Falcon touched down on SpaceX's drone ship landing platform, coming in as the 45th booster recovery for the space company. Two other ships, "Ms. Tree" and "Ms".

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At present, there are slightly more than 2,100 active satellites in orbit around the Earth. The Starlink satellite tally could eventually run into the tens of thousands, based on recent regulatory filings.

Monday's launch, along with 60 satellites launched in May and another four batches planned for the next year or so, will put about 360 satellites into orbit, providing coverage over much of the United States and Canada in 2020.

Elon Musk tweeted earlier this year using a connection provided by a Starlink satellite for the first time, and the company aims to launch service for customers in the USA and Canada following six total launches of Starlink satellites like this one, with service expanding globally after a planned 24 similar launches. The total number of satellites that might ultimately end up in orbit is not yet known.

SpaceX now has around 120 broadband satellites in low Earth orbit, surpassing the 75-satellite Iridium Next constellation as the largest telecommunications system in space. SpaceX later said it corrected the problem.

Today's launch highlighted two of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's top priorities for spaceflight: increasing rocket reusability to drive down the cost of access to space, and creating a constellation of broadband data satellites that might one day fund the establishment of a city on Mars. It will be able to provide internet to populations who now have little to no connectivity, including those in rural areas where existing service is too expensive or too unreliable.