A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket fired 60 more Starlink internet relay satellites into orbit Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center with another set awaiting launch Wednesday from the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
With Sunday's flight, SpaceX has now launched 835 Starlinks in a rapidly-expanding global network that eventually will feature thousands of commercial broadband beacons delivering high-speed internet to any point on Earth. To reach that goal, the company plans to launch at least 120 new Starlinks every month.
The latest Starlink mission, SpaceX's 14th, got underway at 8:26 a.m. EDT when the Falcon 9's nine first stage engines ignited with a burst of flame, pushing the slender rocket away from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center atop 1.7 million pounds of thrust.
Making its sixth flight, the first stage propelled the rocket out of the dense lower atmosphere and then fell away and headed for landing an offshore droneship. Touchdown marked SpaceX's 62nd successful booster recovery since December 2015, its 42nd at sea.
Less than a minute after stage separation, the two halves of the rocket's nose cone fairing, both veterans of two earlier missions, fell away for parachute descents to capture netting aboard waiting recovery ships. Both were successfully recovered, although one appeared to break through its netting, possibly hitting the deck of its ship.
The second stage, meanwhile, pressed ahead to orbit and after two firings of its vacuum-rated Merlin engine, all 60 Starlinks were released to fly on their own about an hour after liftoff.