SpaceX has successfully launched its third batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit, as part of the company’s ongoing initiative to create a mega-constellation of satellites that will beam internet connectivity to the Earth.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket took off at 6:19 am local time on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and deployed the 60 satellites about an hour after launch.
The rocket also landed on the company’s drone ship shortly after launch, marking the fourth time this rocket has gone to space and back.
In this batch, one of the satellites on board is slightly different than the other 59. It is coated in a material meant to make the vehicle appear darker while in orbit.
It has been done in response to concerns voiced by the astronomy community, that the constellation of Starlink satellites might hinder their observations of the night sky.
SpaceX currently has permission from the FCC to launch nearly 12,000 satellites, and the company recently requested access to launch an additional batch of 30,000 satellites from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Elon Musk has said the company will need at least 400 satellites in orbit to provide minimal coverage, and at least 800 to provide moderate coverage.