Elon Musk’s grand plan to deliver global internet coverage progressed on Wednesday after the successful launch of a further 60 satellites into space.
Fresh from the manned launch of two Nasa astronauts five days earlier, SpaceX sent the internet-beaming satellites into orbit using its Falcon 9 rocket.
Wednesday’s launch brings the company’s total number of Starlink satellites up to 482, however it remains considerably below the 12,000 satellites Musk’s company has been approved to send into orbit.
Among the new satellites was one equipped with a sun visor tasked with making the unit appear duller in the sky as the company looks to quell the frustrations of astronomers.
SpaceX’s vice president of satellite government relations Patricia Cooper told SpaceNews that all future satellites will boast the visors once the remaining stock of existing models have launched.
Astronomers have complained that SpaceX’s satellite’s become particularly bright during sunrise and sunset, thus ruining efforts to capture long-exposure photographs.
“SpaceX is committed to making future satellite designs as dark as possible,” the company said in response to the concerns raised by astronomers.
“The visor prevents light from reflecting off of the diffuse antennas by blocking the light from reaching the antennas altogether. Not only does this approach avoid the thermal impacts from surface darkening the antennas, but it should also have a larger impact on brightness reduction.”
Wednesday’s launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was the fifth mission of the Falcon 9 rocket, which may fly again after landing at sea.
The older rocket, which is the second Falcon 9 rocket to fly five times, showed scorch marks on its exterior after surviving previous lift offs. Other missions for the Falcon included two other Starlink missions as well as the deployment of Iridium NEXT satellites.
SpaceX could begin rolling out internet coverage later this year after meeting the 400 satellite threshold required to provide coverage.