Internet

SpaceX launches dozens of 'Starlink' internet satellites into space — its heaviest payload ever

Key Points
  • SpaceX launched its first 60 "production design" Starlink satellites into space on Thursday.
  • The satellites represent the company's ambitious plan to build an interconnected satellite network to beam high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet.
  • The launch was "the heaviest payload a Falcon 9 [rocket] has ever launched," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the company's Crew Dragon capsule for the Demo-1 mission.
SpaceX

SpaceX sent a packed rocket of 60 satellites into space on Thursday evening, in a key first mission toward building the company's own high-speed internet network.

The launch was "the heaviest payload a Falcon 9 [rocket] has ever launched, or Falcon Heavy, for that matter," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told reporters before the mission. All in all, the rocket lifted more than 37,000 pounds of mass, he said.

Called "Starlink," the satellites represent the company's ambitious plan to build an interconnected satellite network to beam high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet. It's how Musk believes SpaceX will be able to generate enough revenue to realize its even more ambitious goals of sending astronauts to Mars, and to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet.

SpaceX deploys its 60 Starlink satellites simultaenously.
SpaceX | GIF by @thesheetztweetz

Starlink itself "is one of the hardest engineering projects I've ever seen done," Musk said.

The Falcon 9 rocket launched from the company's pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. About an hour after liftoff, SpaceX deployed the 60 Starlink satellites in a "very low Earth orbit" of 440 kilometers above the surface.

VIDEO18:0018:00
How SpaceX started and what's next for Elon Musk's Mars dream

The full Starlink network would consist of 11,943 satellites flying close to the planet, closer than the International Space Station.

Musk said SpaceX will need about 720 satellites in orbit to get "moderate" coverage around the world. Starlink will likely require several billions of dollars to fully develop but Musk said SpaceX has the funding needed to begin operations.

"At this point it looks like we have sufficient capital to get to an operational level," Musk said.

SpaceX is one of several companies, including Jeff Bezos' Amazon, which are building these so called "constellations" of interconnected internet satellites.

Each morning, the “Beyond the Valley” newsletter brings you all the latest from the vast, dynamic world of tech – outside the Silicon Valley.

Subscribe:

By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.