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SpaceX launched 53 Starlink internet satellites on Sunday, marking more than 2,800 satellites launched since the company’s start.
The satellites were released from the Falcon 9 rocket that blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Sunday morning.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 17, 2022
The Falcon 9’s launch included nine Merlin 1D engines with 1.7 million pounds of thrust, burning rocket-grade kerosene fuel to ascend from the launch pad.
Its flight from Cape Canaveral headed northeast over the Atlantic Ocean, passing through the speed of sound in less than a minute. The rocket’s first stage engines detached less than three minutes into the flight, as shown in the launch video.
The launch marked the 31st mission for the Falcon 9, with the rocket’s first stage booster landing on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship. The successful launch marks more than 2,800 Starlink spacecraft now released into the Earth’s low orbit. Over 2,500 Starlink satellites are currently operating in space. Starlink aims to use a full fleet of 4,408 satellites at five orbital levels called shells to provide internet communications worldwide.
The operation also marked the 13th flight for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster. The booster has also launched nine previous Starlink missions, along with the RADARSAT Constellation Mission and the Dragon spacecraft’s first demonstration mission.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 17, 2022
The Sunday launch also included booster tail number B1051, one of the oldest in use by SpaceX. Sunday’s flight marked its 13th mission, making it the third booster to hit the milestone.
The launch came just one day after Dragon’s cargo craft launched on Thursday and returned on Saturday morning. The return flight held significant anticipations for researchers as it included numerous science experiments in addition to crew supplies.
The launch also comes just one week after the Falcon 9 transported 46 Starlink satellites into space on July 11. The launch was streamed live from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base, with the Falcon 9 landing on a ship in the Pacific Ocean.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 11, 2022
As The Daily Wire previously reported, SpaceX has approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch around 12,000 satellites. A future launcher from the company, called Starship, is expected to transport hundreds of satellites in a single launch. According to Space.com, SpaceX has also applied internationally for permission to launch an additional 30,000 satellites.
The rapid series of launches have largely been successful. However, on July 12, an explosion rocked SpaceX’s testing facilities in Boca Chica, Texas, as a Super Heavy Booster burst into flames, with a NASA Space Flight capturing video of the explosion.
NASA Spaceflight managing editor Chris Bergin shared the video along with the comment, “Holy moly. Well, that was unexpected.”
Musk replied, “Yeah, actually not good. Team is assessing damage.”
Starlink satellites are designed to provide internet communications to rural and remote locations worldwide. Consumers can purchase Starlink service and operate it through a mobile app and a small satellite dish.