WATCH: SpaceX Launch Sets a Rocket Record
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster executed its fourth successful launch and landing as part of a mission that put 60 more Starlink broadband internet satellites into orbit.
The rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. PT). Ars Technica's Eric Berger noted that SpaceX has now launched its Falcon 9 rockets 84 times, more than any other active U.S. rocket.
Minutes after launch, the first-stage booster touched down on SpaceX's drone ship in the Atlantic, while the second stage continued onward to deploy its stack of satellites. The Starlink orbital constellation now has about 420 satellites, all of which were built at SpaceX's development and manufacturing facility in Redmond, Wash.
Starlink could begin offering limited internet service later this year, depending on future deployments. SpaceX is seeking permission from the Federal Communications Commission to operate all of the satellites from an altitude that's lower than originally planned. There have been increasing complaints about the satellites' intrusive effect on observations of the night sky, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that "we are taking some key steps to reduce satellite brightness."
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