SpaceX Launches 51 Laser-equipped Starlink Satellites From Vandenberg

Falcon 9 with 51 Starlink satellites aboard streaks across the sky over the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with 51 Starlink advanced broadband satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Monday night. The booster launched at 8:55 p.m. PDT, streaking southward across the nighttime sky.

The Starlink satellites are the first to be equipped with laser links to speed communications for SpaceX’s broadband service.

The booster’s first stage, which flew for the 10th time, landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Pacific Ocean. The stage had previously flown on the Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and seven Starlink missions.

One half of Falcon 9’s fairing halves previously supported NROL-108 and the other previously flew on GPS III-3 and Turksat-5A.