For the first time, fairing halves recovered over the Atlantic Ocean from a previous SpaceX launch will be reused. It will be able to provide internet to populations who now have little to no connectivity, including those in rural areas where existing service is too expensive or too unreliable.
SpaceX's launch is a milestone for the company as this mission brings the project a step closer to its goal of providing internet access worldwide. The company is aiming to put 12,000 satellites into low Earth orbit with the goal of providing low-cost internet access to billions of people who are now underserved.
Originally, SpaceX wanted to deploy a total of 12,000 satellites for its Starlink project.
In the mission description for today's launch, SpaceX states that Starlink will begin commercial internet services after just six launches (with about 360 satellites in orbit) by offering broadband coverage to users "in parts of the US and Canada".
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk are planning to offer high-speed internet service everywhere. However, there is still some way to go before this is feasible.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket rises from its launch pad, sending 60 satellites into orbit.
Starlink, SpaceX's internet constellation, will require hundreds of satellites operating in tandem to give seamless internet connections on the Earth.
Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida came on time at 9:56 a.m. ET (6:56 a.m. PT).
SpaceX says its satellite constellation will be operational for Canada and the northern U.S. by next year.
There have been concerns raised in some quarters about Musk's Spacelink plans. Some have warned that this could increase the risk of creating space debris or interfere with astronomical observations. He plans to start service next year in the northern USA and Canada. The company desires its satellites to save enough fuel for the flight back home after they finish their business in space; it's the company's plan to ensure its satellites don't contribute to space junk. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sent out the first tweet using Starlink service.
Top marks to SpaceX then, for the mission's reusability factor.
Its mini-satellites will orbit at relatively low altitude (550 kilometers, or 340 miles, for the first ones), allowing quick transmission times. Moreover, the rocket successfully landed after the launch and also picked up the two fairings that initially protect the rocket's expensive cargo after launch.