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SpaceX launches 60 Starlink communications satellites
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Apr 7, 2021

SpaceX launched 60 more of the company's Starlink Internet communications satellites into orbit from Florida on Wednesday.

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the spacecraft lifted off as planned at 12:34 p.m. EDT into a blue April sky with few clouds.

"Falcon 9 has successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station carrying our stack of Starling satellites to orbit," SpaceX lead manufacturing engineer Jessie Anderson said during a live broadcast.

"The weather again is looking beautiful, clear skies with an amazing view of Falcon."

SpaceX recovered the first-stage booster for the rocket by landing it on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster had been used on six previous missions, including the launch that took NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station in May.

"What an amazing view of that stage one landing burn we got our cameras back just in time for that," Youmei Zhou, a SpaceX propulsion engineer, said during the broadcast. "And this marks our 79th successful recovery of an orbital class rocket, and the seventh recovery of this booster."

The satellites deployed to their intended orbit a little more than an hour after launch.

"Shortly, they will deploy their solar array, and over the next few days and weeks, they will distance themselves from each other and use their onboard ion thrusters to make their way to their operational orbit," Anderson said.

SpaceX has launched more than 1,400 Starlink satellites since the first mission in May 2019.

The company plans to cover the globe with high-speed Internet service, available at $99 per month after purchase of hardware. So far, the service is available in a test mode for certain areas of North America and the United Kingdom.

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said on Tuesday during a virtual forum at a satellite conference that the company has no plans to change its pricing plan for the near future, or offer different tiers of pricing.

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New study finds satellites contribute significant light pollution to night skies
London, UK (SPX) Mar 30, 2021
Scientists reported new research results today suggesting that artificial objects in orbit around the Earth are brightening night skies on our planet significantly more than previously understood. The research, accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, finds that the number of objects orbiting Earth could elevate the overall brightness of the night sky by more than 10 percent above natural light levels across a large part of the planet. This would exce ... read more

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