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SpaceX launches more Starlink satellites, sticks 9th landing for booster

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SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center at 3:01 p.m. Tuesday on a mission to put more of the company’s Starlink satellites into orbit.

“May the force be with us,” said a member of SpaceX mission control after liftoff, paying deference to May 4, also known as Star Wars Day.

The batch of 60 satellites rode atop a first stage booster flown eight times previous. After launch the booster successfully landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You.” It marked the 82nd time SpaceX has made a booster recovery.

The satellites were deployed a little over an hour after launch.

The launch marks the 13th for SpaceX in 2021 including the April 23 liftoff of the Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station from the same launch complex. It’s the second Starlink mission in a week following the April 29 liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. It’s the 11th Starlink mission this year and 26th overall.

The company had 25 launches of all types of missions from Florida in 2020.

The company is looking to send most Starlink launches up with around 60 of the 570-pound satellites into orbit as it continues toward its eventual goal of 12,000 in an effort to provide inexpensive high-speed internet service worldwide.

It has launched more than 1,500 of the satellites since ramping up efforts in May 2019. Internet service is already available to some on a limited basis. SpaceX has stated they already have 500,000 customers lined up for the service.

Starlinks orbit at 341 miles altitude and are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere if they cease to function. The International Space Station in comparison orbits at 254 miles altitude.

The first, with two test satellites, occurred a little more than three years ago in February 2018. The Starlink program at full capacity looks to provide the company billions of dollars from millions of Internet subscribers across the planet and help pay for SpaceX’s missions to Mars.

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