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SpaceX Launches 4 Starlink Missions in 1 Month, Expands Service to Belgium, Netherlands

By Rachel Jewett | May 26, 2021

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 60 Starlink satellites on May

SpaceX launched a batch of 60 Starlink satellites on Wednesday afternoon, and announced that Starlink service is now available in Belgium and the Netherlands. This was the 13th dedicated Starlink mission of 2021, and the fourth Starlink mission for the month of May. 

The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 2:59 p.m. ET. The satellites were successfully deployed about 1 hour and four minutes into the mission. The first stage booster successfully touched down on a drone ship in the ocean about eight and a half minutes into the mission. In addition, this was the first-ever mission in which SpaceX flew a fairing half for the fifth time. 

During the launch webcast on May 26, Youmei Zhou, a Dragon propulsion engineer, said that SpaceX was expanding Starlink’s broadband internet beta service to Belgium and the Netherlands. Service is now available in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and several locations around Europe. 

“To date, over half a million people have placed an order or put down a deposit for Starlink. With every launch, we get closer to connecting more people across the world,” Zhou said. 

SpaceX recently received permission from the FCC to lower the altitude of future satellites in the Starlink constellation. The FCC’s decision came despite protests from Viasat, Amazon, SES, and other satellite competitors. The commission decided that approving the modification was in the public interest because it will improve user experience in underserved polar regions. On May 21, Viasat issued a further filing to the FCC that it will seek a legal stay on Starlink launches if the FCC does not reconsider the order.