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SpaceX launches 54 Starlink communication satellites

A SpaceX rocket carrying 54 of company's Starlink communications satellites lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 4:32 p.m. Saturday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/f21a15544a1c84a4cfdba43f7f9fb399/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A SpaceX rocket carrying 54 of company’s Starlink communications satellites lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 4:32 p.m. Saturday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 17 (UPI) — SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket in Florida on Saturday carrying 54 Starlink Internet satellites.

The Falcon 9 was launched from Kennedy Space Center and was making its 15th flight to space. The rocket’s first stage returned to Earth just under nine minutes later, landing on a SpaceX robotic drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.

The satellites will add to SpaceX’s consumer-grade, high-speed, low-latency Internet network. Subscribers can currently connect to the Starlink network in more than 40 countries and territories.

“Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, completing the 15th launch and landing of this booster!” SpaceX tweeted just after the touchdown.

The company has launched more than 3,500 Starlink spacecraft to date and intends to loft many more. Saturday’s launch was the third in two days for SpaceX.

On Friday, the company launched two high-power broadband satellites for a Luxembourg firm’s new communications system.

The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage was to place the first two O3b mPOWER satellites into orbit to join Luxembourg-based SES’s 20 first-generation O3b Internet satellites.

SES is a satellite telecommunications network with 67 currently operational satellites under its control in both geostationary orbit and medium Earth orbit.

Five of those are part of a group called O3b, also referred to as O3b MEO. O3b stands for “Other 3 Billion” in recognition of the billions of people without access to reliable Internet service.

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