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SpaceX launches 52 Starlink satellites, two other payloads

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches its 28th set of Starlink satellites at 6:56 p.m. Saturday from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches its 28th set of Starlink satellites at 6:56 p.m. Saturday from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- SpaceX has launched 52 more Starlink satellites, plus payloads for two other firms, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch at 6:56 p.m. Saturday was successful, SpaceX said, with all satellites released into orbit about an hour after liftoff. This brings the number of Starlink satellites in orbit to more than 1,600, according to astronomers.

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The rocket's first stage -- being used for the eighth time -- was recovered, landing on a company droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.

The launch was the fourth Falcon 9 carrying Starlink satellites in a little over two weeks, and the ninth such launch since March 1.

Elon Musk's SpaceX also offers rideshare services on some missions, and this one carried payloads for a radar imaging satellite for Capella Space and a satellite for Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems called a Tyvak-0130, described in government documents as "an optical spectrum astronomy observation satellite."

According to the live webcast of the launch, company engineer Kate Tice said SpaceX "offers multiple launch opportunities" to companies that want to send payloads aloft on Starlink missions.

SpaceX also noted during the live webcast the announcement earlier this week of its partnership with Google, utilizing that firm's cloud data centers to provide new services. SpaceX has been stressing providing high-speed Internet services to underserved areas around the world.

Beta testing is ongoing in several counties, including the United States, Austria, France and the Netherlands.

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