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SpaceX completes Starlink launch, brings Direct to Cell satellite total to 103

Starlink Internet now available in Madagascar to Africa's east, company says.

By Chris Benson
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 22 Starlink satellites on June 23 from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. As of Wednesday, Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
1 of 3 | A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 22 Starlink satellites on June 23 from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. As of Wednesday, Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

July 3 (UPI) -- SpaceX early Wednesday launched a new round of Starlink satellites into orbit in its first launch for the month of July after it saw a slight delay.

The liftoff at pad 40 took place in at 4:55 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida after a 2-hour delay.

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The Falcon 9 rocket carried with it 20 Starlink satellites that were successfully put into space above Earth.

Included along with the 20 Starlink satellites launched Wednesday were 13 that have Direct to Cell capability, intended to "serve customers with ubiquitous connectivity directly to their phones," a SpaceX company official said previously, bringing the total of those in orbit to 103.

The 3-hour window for the launch opened at 2:57 a.m. EDT, but the rocket booster experienced technical issues in the final seconds of the last launch attempt.

Arriving back on Earth eight minutes after it was launched, the Falcon 9 first stage touched down in the Atlantic Ocean on the droneship "A Shortfall of Gravitas."

The Starlink 8-9 mission was SpaceX's 49th dedicated mission launching the Starlink satellites this year and the 111th launch over Starlink's V2 Mini version to date.

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Wednesday morning's successful Starlink liftoff was meant to further bolster and expand the mega-constellation.

SpaceX said its goal is to launch an average of 12 Falcon rockets per month at ideally 144 launches this year. Company officials claim they are still on track to meet their goals.

As of Thursday, Starlink's "high-speed, low-latency" Internet has now been available in Madagascar, the island nation to Africa's southeast, the company's Starlink division posted on X.

The company in June had made a series of other successful Starlink satellite launches that saw dozens of new SpaceX satellites put into space.

In May, SpaceX lifted 23 new Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit, at the time the company's third liftoff in two days by that point.

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