SpaceX successfully launched another 52 Starlink Internet broadband satellites into orbit on Saturday, less than a week after the previous batch was shipped. A small satellite from startup Capella Space and a Tavac observation satellite also halted a ride at launch, which took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday evening.
An experienced Falcon 9 booster was used at the launch, which saw the last seven launches and landings during three Starlink missions. It left from its launch pad at 6:56 PM ET (3:56 PM PT) and returned to Earth after about nine minutes. The rocket landed vertically on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship “Off Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean.
The launch company has sent more than 530 Starlink satellites into space since March, and all of them on reused rockets. Reusability is an important factor to make the launch as cost-effective as possible, a factor that is particularly important because SpaceX is both the launch provider and the customer of the Starlink service. As a result, SpaceX has been able to rapidly accelerate its StarLink launch program, with 28 launches under its belt so far. At least one additional launch is expected later this month.
The company said earlier this month that it had received “more than half a million” pre-order reservations for the StarLink broadband service so far. Starlink is available in beta for customers in six countries: Australia, New Zealand, US, United Kingdom, Mexico and Canada. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, stated that the company aims to have its Low Earth Orbit broadband internet network operational by almost the entire world by the end of 2021.