ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The largest satellite constellation orbiting Earth, SpaceX's Starlink, will be getting bigger with two planned Florida launches in the coming weeks, including an attempt Monday morning.
Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket is planned for 9:49 a.m. from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is attached to Kennedy Space Center.
Weather is only 50 percent favorable for the launch due to possible storms and thick clouds, according to an Air Force forecast. A backup time slot on Tuesday morning has an 80 percent favorable outlook.
SpaceX is attempting to beat several competitors into space who have new high-speed internet networks, including OneWeb, Amazon and Telesat. So far, SpaceX is winning the race.
SpaceX has 182 of its dinner table-size Starlink satellites in orbit, each weighing about 573 pounds. The rocket scheduled to lift off Monday carries 60 more satellites. SpaceX intends ultimately to launch tens of thousands of satellites to beam broadband around the globe.
The space firm test-fired on Jan. 19 the rocket that will carry the satellites, the same day the company also conducted a successful abort test of its Crew Dragon capsule from Kennedy Space Center.
Such multiple events in one day are likely to become the new normal this year as SpaceX has plans for at least 12 small-satellite launches, and that doesn't include additional launches of the Dragon capsule that could carry astronauts to the International Space Station.
SpaceX now advertises "monthly missions" for as low as $1 million to put 440 pounds on one of its rockets in a ride-sharing program.
SpaceX previously launched 60 Starlink satellites at a time in May and November and Jan. 6, with two test satellites launched before that.
The launch earlier in January carried one satellite that had an experimental coating to make it less reflective and less visible to stargazers, but the results of that experiment haven't been announced. SpaceX says it takes four months for the satellites to reach their proper orbit.
Starlink satellites orbit about 340 miles above the Earth. By comparison, the Kármán line that defines space is 62 miles high, and the International Space Station is more than 250 miles high.
SpaceX tested the satellites by beaming a signal at speeds of 600 megabytes per second into an Air Force jet in flight. That compares to 25 megabytes per second recommended by the Federal Communications Commission for streaming ultra-high-definition video.
Each Starlink satellite has small thrusters that use electronic propulsion fueled by krypton gas. The motors are intended to help redirect the spacecraft if it is headed for a collision with another space object.
The thrusters also help the satellites re-enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up at the end of their useful life or when they become obsolete. If the thrusters fail, the low orbit of the satellites would mean burning up within five years, anyway, the company said.