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Falcon 9 launches 22 Starlink satellites to orbit from Florida

SpaceX launching 22 Starlink satellites to orbit from Florida.

SpaceX launched its second Falcon 9 mission of the day on Saturday, sending 22 second-generation Starlink satellites into orbit. The launch took place at 9:05 p.m. EDT (0105 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The satellites were deployed about one hour and five minutes after launch. This was the 14th launch of the so-called V2 mini satellites, which are larger and have four times the bandwidth of the previous models. The full-sized V2 Starlink satellites are due to be launched by SpaceX's fully-reusable Starship vehicle, but the delayed debut of Starship led SpaceX to create a condensed version of the satellites so they could be launched on Falcon 9.

With Saturday's successful mission, more than 5,000 Starlink satellites have now reached orbit. Based on statistics compiled by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who maintains a space flight database, SpaceX has now launched a total of 5,005 Starlinks since 2019.

The first stage booster of the Falcon 9 rocket, tailnumber B1080, was making its third mission. It's inaugural flight was to launch the private Axiom 2 crew to the International Space Station earlier this year on May 21. It then lifted off on July 1 with the European Space Agency's Euclid space telescope.

In early May, SpaceX announced it had more than 1.5 million subscribers to Starlink. The company's internet service is available in more than 60 countries.

The launch of the 22 Starlink satellites is a significant milestone for SpaceX's ambitious plan to deploy a constellation of thousands of satellites to provide high-speed internet service to people around the world. The company has said that it plans to have 12,000 Starlink satellites in orbit by the end of 2023 and 42,000 by 2027.

The launch of the 22 Starlink satellites also comes at a time when SpaceX is facing increasing scrutiny from regulators around the world. Some countries have expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the Starlink constellation, while others have raised concerns about the potential for interference with other satellites.

Despite the challenges, SpaceX is pressing ahead with its plans to deploy the Starlink constellation. The company believes that Starlink has the potential to revolutionize the way people access the internet, and it is confident that it can overcome the regulatory hurdles.


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