SpaceX just launched a series of giant internet-beaming satellites into orbit — here’s what happened

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SpaceX/YouTube

  • SpaceX just launched a fifth batch of 10 internet satellites into space.
  • It’s the latest in a massive push from SpaceX to send thousands of internet satellites into orbit around the world, blanketing the Earth in super-speedy internet coverage.
  • SpaceX just got the green light from the FCC for its massive plan on Thursday.

SpaceX just blasted off another batch of internet-providing satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket, the company’s latest push in an effort to cover the Earth with supercharged broadband internet.

It’s an unprecedented move. SpaceX eventually wants to launch 4,425 of these satellites into orbit, in a constellation it’s calling “Starlink,” 700 to 800 miles above Earth. The company also hopes to push up another 7,500 similar spacecraft in lower orbits.

If the project is successful, people around the world could get internet that’s about 40 times as fast as current satellite internet providers, even in remote and rural areas. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just OK’d the company’s plan on Thursday.

The first goal of the SpaceX project is to replace a current low-Earth orbit network of Iridium-brand satellites with 75 newer, faster ones. Today’s launch pushed up 10 more of the new Iridium satellites and SpaceX quickly tweeted out that all ten were successfully deployed.

But even if the project continues to move forward without a hitch, not everyone will get supercharged internet. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has indicated that China probably won’t get coverage, because he’s worried that the country might “blow our satellites up” if they got upset.

Here’s what the mission looked like as it blasted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Falcon 9 rocket at 7:13 am Pacific on Friday:

spacex iridium satellites

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SpaceX/YouTube

spacex iridium satellites

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SpaceX/YouTube

spacex iridium satellites

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SpaceX/YouTube

spacex iridium satellites

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SpaceX/YouTube

SpaceX did not try to recover the Falcon 9’s first stage booster, but the company did test out re-trapping the Falcon 9’s nosecone, or fairing, on a boat named “Mr. Steven.” The move could save the $6 million piece of equipment from plunging into the ocean.

Mr. Steven has a net on board that’s designed to catch the fairing. On Friday, Musk described it as “a giant steel & webbing catcher’s mitt” on Twitter, but it wasn’t immediately clear from Musk’s tweets whether the mitt managed to “glove” the rocket tip on its deck, pictured here:

SpaceX's rocket-fairing-catching boat,

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SpaceX’s rocket-fairing-catching boat, “Mr. Steven.”
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Elon Musk/SpaceX; Instagram