SpaceX loaded another batch of Starlink satellites on Wednesday (April 19).
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 21 of SpaceX’s new Starlink “V2 mini” satellites lifted off at 10:31 a.m. EST (1431 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. After two slight delays earlier in the day due to anonymity. Reasons.
About 8 minutes and 26 seconds after launch, the first stage of the rocket touched down on SpaceX’s self-driving unmanned vehicle A Shortfall of Gravitas nearby in the Atlantic Ocean, in view of a live feed from SpaceX.
This was the space company’s 25th launch of 2023 so far, according to statistics provided in the broadcast, along with the eighth launch of the Falcon 9 first-stage rover.
Related: Starlink satellites: everything you need to know
SpaceX’s Starlink V2 minisatellites are designed to be more powerful than previous iterations, allowing for greater bandwidth capacity than previous generations, depending on the company (Opens in a new tab). It also features Hall thrusters, which are electric propulsion systems that provide more than twice the amount of thrust compared to those aboard first-generation Starlink satellites. SpaceX said (Opens in a new tab).
SpaceX already has more than 4,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, but it has plans to greatly increase that number. The company has received regulatory approval to launch up to 12,000 more Starlink vehicles and is seeking permission to add a whopping 30,000 more.
While satellites will help bring broadband internet to remote or underserved locations around the world, this amount of satellites also comes with downsides, as astronomers complain about Starlink spacecraft interrupting scientific observations.
Wednesday’s mission will be the company’s 25th flight so far in 2023. The first to fly that mission previously launched the private Hakuto-R rover into lunar orbit and three Starlink missions, as well as other payloads.
When it comes to upcoming SpaceX launches, all eyes are on the first space launch of the company’s massive Starship rocket, currently targeted for Thursday (April 20). When the spacecraft is launched on a historic test flight, it will claim the title of the world’s most powerful rocket and pave the way for a new era of human spaceflight.
This story was updated on April 19 at 7:50 AM EST and 9:15 AM EST to reflect revised launch times, and at 10:40 AM EST to reflect a successful launch.
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