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SpaceX launches 46 new Starlink satellites into orbit

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 52 Starlink Satellites from Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday. SpaceX will conduct a similar launch from California on Friday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/a9f20aa0594d5761230a3e1a35987870/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 52 Starlink Satellites from Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday. SpaceX will conduct a similar launch from California on Friday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 12 (UPI) -- SpaceX launched its next round of Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from the Vandenberg Space Force Center in California on Friday afternoon.

The Elon Musk-owned private space company plans to add 46 new satellites to its constellation of small satellites around the world in order to allow access to the Internet regardless of how remote the location may be.

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The Falcon 9 rocket took off on time 5:40 p.m., EDT, with separation from the first stage at about three minutes after lift-off.

Following stage separation, Falcon 9's first stage returned to Earth, landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship stationed in the Pacific Ocean at 5:49 p.m. EDT.

The newest additions to SpaceX's Starlink constellation were later released into low-Earth orbit.

The return of the first stage, once considered revolutionary in the space industry, has now become almost commonplace with today's landing the 57th such return of a first stage rocket.

"Starlink is on the leading edge of on-orbit debris mitigation, meeting or exceeding all regulatory and industry standards," SpaceX said in a statement. "At end of life, the satellites will utilize their onboard propulsion system to deorbit over the course of a few months.

"In the unlikely event the propulsion system becomes inoperable, the satellites will burn up in Earth's atmosphere within 1-5 years, significantly less than the hundreds or thousands of years at higher altitudes."

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On Tuesday, SpaceX launched 52 Starlink communication satellites from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX has launched more than 2,800 satellites into orbit since its first 60 satellites on May 24, 2019.

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