SpaceX Starlink 3 Mission Highlights - First Rocket Launch of 2020

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch the company's Starlink satellites Monday night from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Fla

SpaceX test-fires rocket ahead of launch of third batch of Starlink satellites

Liftoff is scheduled for 9:19 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Elon Musk's aerospace company, SpaceX, will launch its third Starlink satellite at mission tonight, January 6, in what will be a bid to send 60 more operational satellites into Earth's orbit, taking the Starlink satellite total to 180.

The U.S. Space Force's 45th Space Wing is preparing for a sharp increase in launch activity driven by SpaceX's deployments of Starlink satellites, with as many as 22 missions projected for 2020.

To put that into context, there are now around 2,100 active satellites orbiting our planet, according to the Satellite Industry Association.

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In addition to a booster recovery attempt, SpaceX has revealed that it will also attempt to recover one half of the fairing.

SpaceX's move to bring Internet to the world hasn't been without controversy.

SpaceX says its satellite constellation will be operational for Canada and the northern United States by next year. With this concealing strategy, astronomers may worry less about the satellite chain blocking their views of the solar system. And the company has filed paperwork with the International Telecommunication Union for the potential use of 30,000 additional satellites. On this launch, the company is also testing an experimental darkening treatment to mitigate any interference with ground-based telescopes.

Laura Forczyk, a space analyst, said the measures' effectiveness was still uncertain.

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The small satellites will be launched into orbit around the Earth at an altitude of 174 miles, but will slowly rise to an altitude of about 217 miles. A special coating on the bottom of Starlink satellites could reduce the glare, but how it will affect the performance is now unknown.

It's a "first step" compromise between SpaceX and astronomers fearful of having dark skies spoiled by hundreds and, eventually, thousands of bright satellites circling overhead. Over a few months, krypton-powered thrusters raise the satellites to a 340-mile (550-kilometer) orbit.

Already established in launching satellites for others and making space station deliveries for NASA, SpaceX is among several companies looking to provide high-speed, reliable internet service around the world, especially in places where it's hard to get or too expensive.

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Demonstrators hold placards and flags as they attend a protest rally against a new citizenship law, in Hyderabad, India, January 4, 2020.

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