13 September (WNN) — Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched a stack of Starlink satellites into space on Monday night, the first such launch since May.
A Falcon 9 rocket took off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 8:55 p.m. PDT through a cloud of fog, carrying 51 Starlink satellites into space, which were deployed about 30 minutes later Was.
SpaceX confirmed that the communications satellites were deployed via Twitter as they began their journey toward their operational orbit away from each other.
The booster was also retrieved aboard its autonomous drone ship “I Still Love You” in the Pacific Ocean after separating from stage one of the rocket, which carried satellites into space.
SpaceX said it was the 10th flight for the booster and the 90th flight overall.
Although visibility on the ground was poor, the weather was 100% favorable for the launch, Yumei Zhou, a SpaceX propulsion engineer, said during the event broadcast.
It was the first Starlink launch since May, and the first West Coast Starlink mission as well as SpaceX’s first mission of the year from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Zhou said that this 16th Starlink launch of the year represents “a huge leap forward” as fully operational optical interfaces are used to communicate with each other, rather than needing to use radio to carry satellites into space. The satellite link, also known as the Space Laser, will be tested. Frequencies are to be relayed between each other through ground operations.
“Low ping at ground stations means that Starlink will be able to both expand and improve service, especially in very remote areas,” she said. “All future Starlink satellites will have optical space lasers.”
The 229-foot rocket was launched at the California site as the satellites are to be placed in polar orbit, which Zhou said would give them “close to global coverage.”
Including Monday’s launch, SpaceX has operated 32 of its missions to provide high-speed, low-latency Internet across the globe. Its most recent previous launch was in late May when it deployed 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.
SpaceX said more than half a million people have either ordered or submitted internet service, with its beta service available in several countries.