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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches 60 Starlink Communications Satellites

One of 60 SpaceX Starlink communications satellites photographed being deployed into orbit shortly after the 29 January 2020 launch from Cape Canaveral. Photograph courtesy of SpaceX.

SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 satellite launch vehicle carrying its fourth batch of 60 Starlink satellites. The launch took place at 9:06 a.m. local time on Wednesday, 29 January 2020, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The satellites were successfully deployed a little over one hour after launch.

SpaceX originally said the launch would occur Monday morning, 27 January 2020, but pushed that to Tuesday, 28 January 2020, because of rain and clouds near the pad. Then, on Monday evening, the company announced another slip to Wednesday “due to poor weather in the recovery area” for the first stage booster landing at sea.

Even while launching from Florida, SpaceX has dealt with a number of winter weather delays for recent launches. The Starlink delays follow a delay due to high seas in the landing area for an abort test of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule earlier in January.

SpaceX is attempting to beat several competitors into space that have new high-speed internet networks, including OneWeb, Amazon and Telesat. In its press release SpaceX claims that it is winning this race.

SpaceX has 182 of its dinner table-size Starlink satellites in orbit, each weighing about 260 kilograms. The 29 January 2020 launch placed 60 more satellites in to low-Earth orbit (LEO). SpaceX intends ultimately to launch tens of thousands of satellites to beam broadband around the globe.

SpaceX previously launched 60 Starlink satellites at a time in May and November 2019 and 6 January 2020 with two test satellites launched before that.

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