SpaceX Launches Fourth Starlink Mission of this Year

Published February 4th, 2021 - 02:30 GMT
SpaceX Launches Fourth Starlink Mission of this Year
The launch was also SpaceX's fourth of the year with the fifth originally also planned for Thursday but was moved to Friday when it is now set to launch at 5:14 a.m. EST from Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. (Shutterstock)

Elon Musk's SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida early Thursday with the mission to send a cluster of 60 Starlink communication satellites into low-Earth orbit.

The 21-story, two-stage rocket launched at 1:19 a.m. EST Thursday from Complex 40 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

While weather at the launch site was favorable, officials said they had to keep an eye on the region of the Atlantic Ocean where the football field-size drone boat named "Of Course I Still Love You" received the first stage of the rocket as it descended back to Earth following the launch.

It was the 74th recovery of an orbital class rocket and the fifth for that particular booster, officials said.

The launch was also SpaceX's fourth of the year with the fifth originally also planned for Thursday but was moved to Friday when it is now set to launch at 5:14 a.m. EST from Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

The U.S. Space Force had approved the two SpaceX missions, which would have been the first time two rockets lifted off from the Eastern Range on the same day since Gemini 12 and Atlas Agena set off for space separated by 99 minutes on Nov. 11, 1966, the branch's 45th Space Wing said in a statement.

SpaceX said on Twitter it delayed the second launch to Friday "to allow additional time for pre-launch checks."

The Starlink mission, which is currently in its beta phase, seeks to offer high-speed, low-latency Internet service to consumers worldwide through its network of low-orbit satellites, of which about 1,000 have already been launched during the 18 Starlink missions.


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