SpaceX brings number of Starlink satellites in space to 300 after new launch

SpaceX has successfully launched a new batch of Starlink satellites into space. This brings the total number of these internet satellites to about 300. The final number of satellites of this network for high-speed internet should be a multiple of that.

SpaceX says to have confirmation of the successful disconnection of the sixty satellites in space and also showed images of it. This is the fifth launch of a series of 60 satellites with a Falcon 9 rocket. A booster has been used that has flown three times before; SpaceX has done that three times before. The first launch took place in May last year.

The aim is to create a network that consists of many of these small internet satellites weighing 260 kg. Initially, the number should be 1584 satellites, but the company has permission from the FCC to increase that number to 12,000. SpaceX also hopes to get approval to further increase that number to 42,000. These satellites should make fast internet possible everywhere on earth.

Not everything went entirely according to plan. The first rocket stage was to land on the drone ship called Of Course I Still Love You. That would have been the fiftieth successful vertical landing of a rocket stage, but the booster ended up in the ocean next to the ship. According to SpaceX, it was a soft landing and took place right next to the ship.

This failure may be due to the fact that this time, SpaceX first disconnected the Starlink satellites earlier, fifteen minutes after liberation from Florida, already after the first firing period of the second rocket stage. In the previous launches, the satellites were released only after 61 minutes. The newly launched satellites thus enter an elliptical orbit around the Earth and use their ion engines to reach the desired height of 550 km. This different launch profile should lead to savings in areas such as fuel and launch costs.