On Saturday night from Cape Canaveral, SpaceX launched an additional 54 Starlink internet satellites, breaking the previous record for the heaviest payload ever launched by a Falcon 9 rocket. Days prior to the flight, SpaceX and T-Mobile disclosed their plans to employ a new generation of Starlink spacecraft to provide existing cell phones with universal connection.
A stack of Starlink internet satellites was launched into orbit by the Falcon 9’s upper stage with an orbital distance of between 144 and 208 miles (232-by-336 kilometers). The launch vehicle was aiming for an orbit with a 53.2-degree inclination toward the equator.
The 53 satellites on recent Starlink flights, the biggest payloads ever launched on a Falcon 9, optimized the rocket’s payload performance.
A SpaceX engineer who provided commentary on the company’s launch webcast, Jessie Anderson, claimed that the satellites carried on Saturday night’s trip together weighed more than any other payload ever lifted by SpaceX. Each Starlink satellite weighs more than a quarter of a tonne, thus the addition of one more satellite may indicate that SpaceX has somewhat increased the Falcon 9’s payload envelope’s capacity.