SpaceX launched another batch of Starlink satellites on Wednesday (April 19).
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 21 of SpaceX’s new Starlink “V2 mini” satellites lifted off at 10:31 a.m. ET (1431 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Reasons.
About 8 minutes and 26 seconds after launch, the rocket’s first stage landed on the autonomous SpaceX droneship, the shortfall of nearby Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean, a live broadcast from SpaceX showed.
This will be the space agency’s 25th launch so far in 2023, according to figures presented in the broadcast, along with the eighth launch overall of the Falcon 9 first-stage booster.
Related: Starlink Satellites: Everything You Need to Know
SpaceX’s V2 mini Starlink satellites are designed to be more powerful than previous iterations, allowing for greater broadband capacity than previous generations. According to the company (opens in new tab). They have Hall thrusters, which are electric propulsion systems that provide double the thrust compared to the first generation Starlink satellites. SpaceX said (opens in new tab).
SpaceX already has 4,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, but plans to increase that number significantly. The company has received regulatory approval to launch another 12,000 Starlink craft and is seeking approval to add another 30,000.
While satellites can help bring broadband Internet to remote or underserved places around the world, satellites of that size also come with their drawbacks, with astronomers complaining that the Starlink craft could interfere with scientific observations.
The Mercury mission in 2023 will mark the company’s 25th flight so far. The first stage booster that will fly this mission has previously carried the private Hakuto-R rover into lunar orbit and three Starlink missions, in addition to other payloads.
However, when it comes to upcoming SpaceX launches, all eyes are on the first space launch of the company’s largest Starship rocket, which is currently targeted for Thursday (April 20). When Starship launches on a landmark test flight, it will claim the title of the world’s most powerful rocket and usher in a new era of human spaceflight.
This story was updated on April 19 at 7:50 a.m. EDT and 9:15 a.m. EDT to reflect the adjusted launch time, and at 10:40 a.m. EDT to reflect the successful launch.