Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched its second batch of 60 Starlink satellites on Monday, taking another step toward Elon Musk’s vision to create a network for space-based broadband internet service around the world.
One of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets rumbled aloft at 9:56 a.m. local time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellites deployed a little over an hour after the launch.
A space-based internet service will be an important source of funding for the closely held company, according to Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002 with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. SpaceX launched its first batch of satellites in May and has tinkered with the design to increase spectrum capacity.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which flew in three previous missions, landed back on a drone ship about 8 1/2 minutes after the launch.
SpaceX called off an attempt to use two vessels to catch the fairing — the nose cone that protects the payload — out of concern about sea conditions. The company still plans to retrieve the fairing, which was used in one mission earlier this year, once its two halves splash down.
SpaceX plans to continue launching Starlink satellites in batches and aims to provide service to parts of the northern U.S. and Canada next year, according to Starlink’s website.
‘The company isn’t alone in wanting to start a constellation: Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.com Inc. has a rival effort called Project Kuiper, and SoftBank Group Corp.-backed OneWeb aims to have a network available by 2021.
“We see this as a way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to develop more advanced rockets and spaceships,” Musk told journalists during a conference call in May.
“This is a key stepping stone on the way toward establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon.”