SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites

SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink satellites from the Kennedy Space Center at 7:29 a.m. EDT (1129 GMT) Tuesday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. Meanwhile, the launch of another SpaceX rocket a few miles away with a GPS satellite has been postponed indefinitely after a countdown abort moments before liftoff Friday night.

SpaceX confirms the 60 Starlink broadband satellites successfully deployed from the rocket’s upper stage in orbit. This brings the total number of Starlinks launched to 775 satellites.

The Starlink satellites are expected to release from the front end of the rocket all at once, instead of one-at-a-time or in pairs, as spacecraft often do when separating from a launch vehicle.

The Falcon 9 upper stage will fire thrusters to put itself in a spin before deploying the satellites. Then the rocket will release retention rods that hold the satellites in place on top of the vehicle.

The momentum from the rotation helps the satellites disperse, before the craft individually activated their propulsion systems to begin climbing toward their final operating altitude roughly 341 miles (550 kilometers) above Earth.

SpaceX says injecting the satellites into a lower orbit will allow time for checkouts before orbit-raising using their krypton ion thrusters.

Separation of the Starlink satellites is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT).

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