California-based launch and internet service provider SpaceX sent a new batch of Starlink internet satellites into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday morning. The rocket carried 60 new satellites to join SpaceX’s constellation, which now totals more than 1,000 satellites operating in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).
The Falcon 9 rocket used in this morning’s launch returned to Earth approximately 9 minutes after takeoff. The rocket landed safely on SpaceX’s “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. This marks SpaceX’s 8th use of this particular booster and the 72nd successful landing of a reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
The launch was originally scheduled to take place on Monday, January 18, but was postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions at the rocket recovery zone.
Separately, Thomas Burghardt from NASA Spaceflight reported on Tuesday that SpaceX acquired two former oil drilling rigs to serve as floating spaceports for reusable rockets. The company named the platforms Phobos and Deimos, after the two moons of Mars. Burghardt reported that the two platforms are currently undergoing modifications to support Starship launch operations.