SpaceX sends 52 Starlink satellites into space in 43rd mission
The launch occured at 7:32 pm Eastern Daylight time
SpaceX will launch its Starlink Version 2 satellites next year
There are currently nearly 3,400 Starlink satellites in low earth orbit
SpaceX sent another 52 Starlink satellites into space on Saturday evening with its launch system Falcon 9 landing comfortably at sea.
The launch took place in Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:32 pm Eastern Daylight Time. Nine minutes later, the Falcon 9 came back to Earth, making a precision landing on the SpaceX "droneship" A Shortfall of Gravitas, stationed in the Atlantic ocean. The launch marked the fourth time that this particular Falcon 9 booster was used, according to the SpaceX mission description.
The 52 satellites were deployed fifteen minutes after liftoff, the space company confirmed on Twitter. The launch is another step in the Elon Musk-owned company's aim to build out the Starlink megaconstellation. Starlink is expected to provide blazing fast Internet speeds to people across the globe with the company currently focusing on ensuring connectivity to rural areas.
Starlink currently has nearly 3,400 satellites in low earth orbit and plans to have thousands up and running in the next few years. From 2023, the satellite internet company will be launching a new version of its existing satellites. The Starlink Version 2 are expected to be bigger and more powerful than the ones in orbit. The new satellites are expected to beam connectivity directly to mobiles. T-mobile customers will be the first ones to get access to the program which is called "Coverage Above and Beyond". Musk announced the endeavour last month.
The V2 satellites will be taken to space via the the next-gen Starship vehicle from SpaceX, which are expected to take people to the Moon and then onwards to Mars. The first orbital test flight for the Starship is expected to take place in November this year, Musk has said.
The launch on Saturday was the 43rd launch, counting towards the company's single-year liftoff record. Last year, SpaceX sent 31 rockets into space.