SpaceX added yet more satellites to its ever-growing Starlink internet megaconstellation on Monday night (Nov. 27).
The Falcon 9's first stage came back to Earth for a vertical landing about 8.5 minutes after launch. It touched down on the droneship "Just Read the Instructions," which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.
It was the 17th launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.
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The Starlink network, which beams internet service down to people around the world, already features more than 5,000 operational spacecraft, according to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.
But that number keeps growing, and likely will far into the future. SpaceX already has permission to deploy 12,000 Starlink craft into LEO, and it has applied for approval for another 30,000 on top of that.
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.