SpaceX sent another 60 satellites into orbit on Monday, one of many such launches the company hopes to conduct over the next year as it works to build a massive broadband-from-space business.A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellites took off from Florida’s Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:56 am ET, and about an hour later, the company confirmed the satellites deployed in orbit.
SpaceX’s internet constellation, called Starlink, will require hundreds of satellites working in tandem to provide seamless internet connections on the ground. The 60 satellites launched Monday will add to the dozens launched in May on the first Starlink flight, and the company plans to launch as many as 24 more missions next year as it builds up its network, adding more bandwidth and coverage area.
The company has permission from regulators to launch more than 10,000 Starlink satellites and it recently requested permission to add as many as 30,000 to that number.
Of the first batch of 60 satellites launched in May, three malfunctioned and were unable to communicate with the ground. Those devices will be left to float around aimlessly until the Earth’s gravity can slowly drag them back out of orbit. That could take years.Two other satellites were directed to dive back toward Earth to “simulate an end of life disposal.” SpaceX wants its functioning satellites to save enough fuel for the journey home after they finish their business in space; it’s part of the company’s plan to ensure its satellites don’t contribute to space junk.The remaining satellites from that launch are already operating.
Last month, SpaceX CEO and chief engineer Elon Musk sent out the first tweet using Starlink service.”We still have a long way to go from tweets to 4K cat videos, but we are on our way,” said Lauren Lyons, a SpaceX engineer who hosted the webcast of Monday’s launch.The company hopes that Starlink could one day bring internet access to a significant portion of the world’s population who live in areas without the infrastructure for wireless or who aren’t happy with their current providers. Musk has said Starlink could generate $30 billion or more in revenue each year for SpaceX.