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SpaceX launches 40 Internet satellites for rival OneWeb into orbit

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on on Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on November 30. SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 on Thursday carrying 40 iInternet satellites for a rival company. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on on Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on November 30. SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 on Thursday carrying 40 iInternet satellites for a rival company. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 8 (UPI) -- SpaceX launched its 55th flight of the year on Thursday, as its Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, carrying 40 Internet satellites for a competitor.

Conditioners were about 90% favorable for liftoff at 5:27 p.m. EST with the three-batch deployment of the OneWeb satellites being completed about an hour and a half later.

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"All 40 satellites have successfully separated and now we wait as our team works to confirm contact with all our spacecraft," OneWeb tweeted.

The launch will expand OneWeb's constellation to just over 500 satellites. SpaceX currently has more than 3,200 Starlink satellites in orbit.

With the market for global Internet service "growing exponentially," there's room for everyone, Massimiliano Ladovaz, OneWeb's chief technology officer, told Yahoo! News.

SpaceX agreed to launch satellites for OneWeb after the British company broke ties with Russia in March. Russian Soyuz rockets already had launched 13 batches of OneWeb satellites, beginning in 2019.

OneWeb satellites -- each about the size of a washing machine and weighing 330 pounds -- are built at NASA's Kennedy Space Center through a joint venture with France's Airbus.

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SpaceX said it was the fourth launch of this particular Falcon 9 first-stage booster.

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