ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- SpaceX launched the latest installment of the Starlink satellite network as planned at 9:06 a.m. EST on Wednesday into a sunny but cool Florida sky.
Wednesday's launch also saw two other successes: SpaceX recovered its first-stage booster by landing it on a barge at sea and caught one of the rocket nose-cone halves in a net on another ship at sea. That's the third successful catch for the firm.
The Falcon 9 rocket carried 60 more Starlink spacecraft into orbit, the fourth time for such a feat. The mission lifted off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is adjacent to Kennedy Space Center.
"We just had a nominal liftoff of our Falcon 9 vehicle carrying our Starlink payload on its way to its targeted orbit," SpaceX engineer Lauren Lyons said in a live broadcast.
Video from space showed the satellites separating from the rocket's upper stage and deploying successfully in orbit. The images showed sunlight emerging around the curvature of the Earth in the background.
The company had experienced a few delays in recent weeks because of weather concerns, and strong high-altitude winds forced a postponement of the launch on Monday morning. Rough seas in the recovery zone caused another schedule slip Tuesday, SpaceX said.
Earlier in January, SpaceX delayed a test launch of its Crew Dragon capsule because of high seas in the spacecraft's landing zone.
If all continues on track for the constellation, 100 or more such Starlink launches could occur in the future. SpaceX intends ultimately to launch thousands of satellites to beam broadband around the globe.
SpaceX has 182 of its large dinner table-size satellites in orbit, each weighing over 500 pounds. When they reach space, they extend a large solar panel for power. The space firm previously launched 60 Starlink satellites at a time in May, November and on Jan. 6, with two test satellites launched before that.
The company has faced concerns from astronomers and other stargazers who have seen satellites shining brightly in the night sky. Astronomy groups have posted images showing how the satellites interrupted photos or space object observations.
The launch earlier in January carried one spacecraft, a so-called "Dark Sat," that had an experimental coating to make it less reflective and less visible to stargazers.
The results of that experiment haven't been announced. SpaceX's Starlink mission descriptions say satellites take months to reach their proper orbit, so judging the effectiveness of the experiment will take a while. In the meantime, SpaceX continues launching Starlink.
Wednesday's payload rode atop a first-stage booster that previously carried a Crew Dragon capsule on its first demonstration mission in March 2019 and a satellite mission in June 2019.
Starlink satellites orbit at a height of 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.