SpaceX launches 60 more mini satellites for global internet

On Monday, the rocket company launched 60 solar-powered satellites as part of its massive broadband internet project known as Starlink. It is the second batch in a planned constellation of thousands meant to provide broadband service around the world.

The Nov. 11 launch was also the first time SpaceX flew the same booster for a fourth time.

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The Falcon 9 first-stage booster that sent 60 Starlink satellites into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida was previously used to launch commercial satellites in July and October of 2018.

SpaceX landed the booster on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Of the 60 Starlink satellites SpaceX launched in May, three lost contact and two were selected for intentional de-orbiting. Its third launch was on February 22, sending an Indonesian communications satellites into orbit and the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft toward an eventual crash landing on the moon. The company is aiming to put 12,000 satellites into low Earth orbit with the goal of providing low-cost internet access to billions of people who are now underserved. The satellites launched from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The company plans to launch another four batches by the end of 2020, which will put a total of 360 satellites into orbit and provide internet coverage in parts of the US and Canada.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on November 7 approved a SpaceX request to test its new satellites at a 350-kilometer orbit.

SpaceX now has around 120 broadband satellites in low Earth orbit, surpassing the 75-satellite Iridium Next constellation as the largest telecommunications system in space. "These impacts could include significant disruption of optical and near-infrared observations by direct detection of satellites in reflected and emitted light; contamination of radio astronomical observations by electromagnetic radiation in satellite communication bands; and collision with space-based observatories", the statement said.

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. It will be able to provide internet to populations who now have little to no connectivity, including those in rural areas where existing service is too expensive or too unreliable.

SpaceX included several upgrades to its second set of Starlink satellites. "This will provide a competitive option for them".

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