SpaceX Sends Sixth Batch of 60 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit and Sets Record for Rocket Reuse

Alan Boyle, GeekWire

GeekWire contributing editor Alan Boyle is an award-winning science writer and veteran space reporter. Formerly of NBCNews.com, he is the author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference." Follow him via CosmicLog.com, on Twitter @b0yle, and on Facebook and MeWe.

SpaceX Sends Sixth Batch of 60 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit and Sets Record for Rocket Reuse

A Falcon 9 rocket sent SpaceX's sixth batch of 60 Starlink broadband satellites into orbit and set a record for reusability today, but missed making yet another touchdown.


The Falcon 9 lifted off right on time at 8:16 a.m. ET (5:16 a.m. PT) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It marked the first time that a Falcon 9 first-stage booster has beenusedfivetimes. The rocket's fairing, or nose cone, had been previously flown as well.

A few minutes after launch, the rocket's second stage separated and headed onward to orbit. Meanwhile, the first stage tried flying itself back for a fifth landing, but SpaceX reported that the at-sea landing attempt was unsuccessful. In a tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said there was an early engine shutdown on the booster that will require a "thorough investigation" before the next mission. SpaceX missed catching the fairing halves in ship-borne nets but fished them out of the water for reuse.

The 60 satellites were deployed 15 minutes after liftoff, to join about 300 other Starlink spacecraft in low Earth orbit. The satellites, which are made at SpaceX's facility in Washington, are expected to start providing broadband internet access as early as this year.

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