SpaceX kicked off 2020 with the record-breaking launch of its third batch of Starlink satellites. Sixty of the internet-beaming satellites launched atop a used Falcon 9 booster on Monday, Jan. 6.
The sooty Falcon 9 rocket roared to life at 9:19 p.m. EST (0219 GMT Tuesday), lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here in Florida. Its nine Merlin 1D engines lit up the night sky above the space coast as it climbed towards orbit.
“Liftoff! Go, Starlink, go, Falcon [on the] Space Force inaugural launch,” a SpaceX launch commentator said. The mission was the first launch under the watch of the newly minted U.S. Space Force, a military branch that President Donald Trump signed into law last month.
The satellites rode into space atop a reused Falcon 9 first stage, marking the second time the company has flown a booster four times. The star of this mission, dubbed B1049.4 by SpaceX, previously lofted the first batch of Starlink satellites as well as the Iridium-8 and Telstar 18 VANTAGE missions.