SpaceX Successfully Deploys 20 Starlink Satellites in its 50th Mission of the Year: Watch the Video

SpaceX continues to expand its Starlink satellite constellation, with its latest launch of 20 satellites on May 14, 2024. The launch marked the company’s 50th orbital mission for the year. The Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Starlink satellites, took off from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base. Among these, 13 of the satellites are equipped with a direct-to-cell capability.

The Falcon 9’s first stage successfully returned to Earth around 8.5 minutes post-launch, landing vertically on the SpaceX droneship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ stationed in the Pacific Ocean. This marks the 18th successful launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage, putting it just two shy of SpaceX’s reuse record. The upper stage of the Falcon 9 was tasked with carrying the 20 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit, with the deployment scheduled to occur roughly 61 minutes after liftoff.

Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious project to create a megaconstellation of satellites to provide global broadband internet coverage. The project is currently in the beta testing phase, with users reporting impressive download speeds. The recent launch brings the total number of working Starlink satellites to over 5,900.

In the first half of 2024 alone, SpaceX has conducted 50 orbital launches, with 35 of those dedicated to building out the Starlink megaconstellation. The tally does not include the third test flight of SpaceX’s Starship megarocket that took place on March 14. The company is currently preparing for the fourth test mission of the Starship, which could take place within three to five weeks, as per Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX.

The success of SpaceX’s commercial spaceflights and the continued expansion of the Starlink constellation are significant milestones in the company’s mission to revolutionize space travel and connectivity. The company’s commitment to reusing rocket stages also underscores its dedication to reducing the costs associated with space exploration and making space more accessible.

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