The rocket launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida, at 8:16 a.m. ET.
About 350 Starlink satellites now orbit Earth. They’re all part of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s plan to beam cheap, high-speed broadband internet from space. Musk hopes the venture will sign up its first customers this year.
SpaceX planned to launch up to 24 dedicated Starlink missions this year, with each mission carrying 60 satellites. But it’s not yet clear if rocket launches will be impacted by the workplace closures and isolation orders that have halted much of the world’s business activity as communities combat the spread of coronavirus.
A Space Force spokesperson said in statement that there are currently “no impacts” to “mission-essential activities due to COVID-19 concerns.”
SpaceX’s internet ambitions
Eventually, SpaceX wants to grow the Starlink constellation to include more than 40,000 satellites that it hopes will blanket the planet in cheap, high-speed connectivity. The company hopes to reach billions of people around the world without internet access and compete with traditional ground-based service providers.
Musk has said Starlink could bring in $30 billion in annual revenue. And the company plans to pour that money back into development of Starship, a rocket and spacecraft system that SpaceX hopes will put the first humans on Mars.
SpaceX has launched Starlink satellites at an unprecedented pace. It’s already the single largest satellite constellation in existence.
SpaceX is known for its efforts to reuse parts of its rockets to drive down cost. On Wednesday, the company used a first-stage booster, or the largest and bottom-most part of that rocket that gives the initial thrust at liftoff, that had previously been used on four other missions. It marked the first time a booster has flown five times.
The first-stage booster missed its landing target on the way back down to Earth on Wednesday, so it won’t be able to be used on a sixth mission.