SpaceX launched a space tug, a large number of its Starlink broadband satellites, as well as a rocket that landed on a ship at sea on Sunday night (Sept. 4).
On Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, delivering 51 Starlink internet satellites to orbit.
Along with Starlink Group 4-20, there was the space tug Sherpa-LTC2, which was owned by the Seattle-based company Spaceflight. According to SpaceNews, the tug is transporting a payload for Boeing's planned constellation of 147 non-geostationary broadband satellites, called Varuna Technology Demonstration Mission (Varuna-TDM), that "seeks to demonstrate V-band communications".
A chemical leak prompted SpaceX to reschedule the very first Sherpa-LTC orbital transfer vehicle's scheduled launch in January 2022, according to SpaceNews.
The flight plan for Sunday called for SpaceX to return the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket to Earth for a gentle landing on the drone ship.
Following liftoff, Sherpa-LTC2 and Starlinks began to deploy from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 in around 49 and 23 minutes, respectively, according to a tweet from SpaceX.
SpaceX has already flown more than 25 Starlink-centric flights in 2022, putting more than 3,000 Starlink satellites into orbit in an endeavour to build a massive constellation for internet coverage targeted at rural places.
The Starlink megaconstellation was expanded with SpaceX's 40th flight of the year on Sunday. 12,000 Starlink satellites can be launched by SpaceX, and the company has requested a global regulator to grant the go-ahead for 30,000 more.
Elon Musk who is the creator and CEO of SpaceX has disclosed plans for using Starlink and T-Mobile to beam connection directly to cellphones in late August. A further agreement made public on Tuesday, August 30, would see Starlink service beaming to Royal Caribbean cruise ships