As we’re used to by now, Falcon 9’s main component, the first stage, was recovered quickly as it landed as usual on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship. It was this particular booster’s third successful launch and landing.
The 60 satellites deployed on Thursday are just a tiny part of the planned 12,000 that will surround our planet in the coming years. They are the test batch, Musk said, used to assess both the deployment method (a challenge given the number of pieces crammed inside the fairing) and their communication capabilities with the ground.
This is the second such test conducted by SpaceX after the one in February 2018, but the hardware deployed now is much closer to the production version of the satellites.
When more of the constellation gets up there, Musk plans to use the Starlink to give the underserved parts of the world access to broadband internet connectivity.
It’s unclear how many missions it will take to get all the components in orbit. For now, Musk has only talked about 17 such launches, three of which scheduled by the end of this year. At least an extra six more launches of 60 satellites each are needed for minimum coverage.
Beyond the benign use of Starlink, the U.S. Air Force tasked SpaceX with finding military uses for the technology as well.