SpaceX launches first satellites in Starlink internet mission

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SpaceX launch: SpaceX pins high hopes on Starlink internet satellites with Falcon 9 rocket launch today

One of the company's Falcon 9 rockets blasted off without incident from Cape Canaveral in Florida around 10:30 pm (0230 GMT). Its second attempt late last week was put on hold when the company decided the satellites need a software update. "Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success".

Started in 2002, SpaceX now employs more than 6,000 people with three launch sites in California, Texas and Florida. As it now stands, there are roughly 2,000 satellites orbiting the earth, a number which causes some unease already. It's the first dedicated mission for Starlink, which ultimately aims to number 12,000 satellites. That rocket has now been used three times, cementing SpaceX's capability in reusing rockets.

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SpaceX said it may conduct as many as six more satellite launches this year, depending on how successful Thursday's launch ends up being.

Starlink will become operational once 800 satellites have been activated, which will require a dozen more launches. Unlike the final version, they won't be able to communicate with each other; they'll communicate with the center on earth and move accordingly. This network of satellites is created to blanket the world with high-speed internet and has an estimated cost of US$10 billion. There is even a "small possibility" that none of the spacecraft will work.

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SpaceX, the private rocket company of high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched the first batch of 60 small satellites into low-Earth orbit on Thursday for Musk's new Starlink internet service.

The satellites are equipped with star tracker navigation systems that allow SpaceX to pinpoint the satellites. The company's chief rivals, Jeff Bezos's Amazon and the SoftBank-backed OneWeb, are also in the running to provide satellite-based internet broadband service to the world. Subsequent launches would carry around 60 satellites after that.

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In each network, the tiny satellites orbit closer to Earth than traditional communications satellites, a technological shift made possible by advances in laser technology and computer chips.

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