SpaceX has confirmed the successful deployment of a new batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit.
SpaceX, the private rocket company of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched two Americans into orbit from Florida on May 30 in a landmark mission marking the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from US soil in nine years.
The next day, SpaceX delivered two astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, following up a historic liftoff with a smooth docking.
And on Wednesday, Starlink satellites were put into the orbit.
“Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed,” SpaceX tweeted.
Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious project to launch and operate its own network of broadband satellites, which will provide low-cost Internet to remote locations on a global level.
SpaceX sent the new batch of Starlink satellites on a different reusable Falcon 9 rocket which became the first orbital class rocket booster to successfully launch and land five times.
“On this mission, we are launching the first Starlink satellite with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft,” SpaceX said.
The Falcon 9 took off from the same launch pad used by NASA’s final space shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley, in 2011. Since then, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.
NASA has yet to decide how long Hurley and Behnken will spend at the space station, somewhere between one and four months.
The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a brand new vehicle was 40 years ago at the start of the space shuttle programme.
US President Donald Trump had also hailed the launch as a major advance toward the goal of eventually sending humans to Mars.
(with inputs from Reuters)