After a pair of scrubbed launch attempts last week, SpaceX's first rocket loaded with 60 Starlink satellites has successfully taken off from Cape Canaveral. One hour and two minutes after the 10:30 PM ET launch the satellites are scheduled to begin deployment, heading toward their operational altitude of 550km above the Earth. The 227kg units will use Hall thrusters and energy pulled in from a single solar array to form a network that provides internet access around the globe.
The rocket's first stage has already landed safely on a waiting drone ship -- this was its third flight -- and having a reusable booster will be key to launching all the satellites required. Plans SpaceX filed with the FCC said it intends to have 12,000 of the Starlink units in orbit by the mid-2020s, providing internet connections capable of up to 1Gbps even in rural areas.
Update: And just over an hour after launch, SpaceX successfully deployed the 60 flat-packed Starlink satellites.
Starlink satellites are equipped with one solar array instead of two, minimizing potential points of failure pic.twitter.com/bJirVr67fF— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 24, 2019
Starlink will connect the globe with reliable and affordable high-speed broadband services pic.twitter.com/dWVvPwVWU4— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 24, 2019
All 60 Starlink satellites online, solar array deployment coming up soon— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2019