Last year, SpaceX launched more than 800 Starlink satellites through 14 missions, bringing the total number of satellites in low-Earth orbit to over 1,000. The company also began beta service in several large markets. And that was just the beginning—the Elon Musk-led company has big plans for 2021, vying to achieve global internet coverage and increase download speeds.
After a bumpy start of the year, marked by frequent delays and a landing accident, Starlink launches are finally picking up speed going into the spring. SpaceX’s latest batch of 60 Starlink satellites is set to lift off early Wednesday morning. The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellites will be the same booster that sent two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in SpaceX’s historic maiden crewed flight last May.
Another Starlink mission is scheduled for this Saturday and two more are expected before the end of March.
Wednesday’s flight will be SpaceX’s sixth Starlink mission this year and the 21st Starlink launch to date.
Below we tracked every Starlink flight launched or scheduled in 2021 so far. We will update the list as more missions are announced. (Check our 2020 Starlink tracker for earlier missions.)
Mission v1.0 L16 on January 20, 2021: 60 Starlink satellites
Mission v1.0 Tr-1 on January 24, 2021: 10 Starlink satellites were launched as part of Transporter-1 SmallSat Rideshare Mission. It was the first launch of Starlink satellites to polar orbits.
Mission v1.0 L18 on February 4, 2021: 60 Starlink satellites
Mission v1.0 L19 on February 16, 2021: 60 Starlink satellites. (SpaceX lost a Falcon 9 booster in the Atlantic Ocean during the recovery process.)
Mission v1.0 L17 on March 4, 2021: 60 Starlink satellites
Mission v1.0 L20 on March 10, 2021: 60 Starlink satellites
Mission v1.0 L21 on March 13, 2021: 60 Starlink satellites
Early on during the Starlink project, astronomers raised concerns about the satellites’ brightness blocking scientific observations. Amateur star-gazers would often report seeing trains of Starlink satellites crossing the sky shortly after launches.
More recently launched satellites are not so easy to spot, though. Since July 2020, SpaceX has equipped every Starlink satellite with a sunlight-blocking visor so that they are less visible in the sky.