Running a day late because of high upper-level winds, the 229-foot-tall rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base just after 9:15 a.m., streaking away to the south over the Pacific Ocean as it climbed toward an orbit around Earth's poles.
The launch's primary mission is to deliver PAZ, a radar-imaging satellite, into orbit for the Spain-based company Hisdesat.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirmed parafoil deploy, but the descending nose cone panel did not make it to the capture net. It carries an advanced instrument for making radar images of Earth for government and commercial purposes, as well as sensors for tracking ships and weather. "Should be able to catch it with slightly bigger chutes to slow down descent". But SpaceX won't launch all 12,000 at once.
Today's launch also featured SpaceX's first attempt to pluck a Falcon 9's falling nose cone out of the sky using a speedy, net-equipped boat named Mr. Steven.
The Federal Communications Commission past year granted permission for the operation of the MicroSats, but Musk only publicly acknowledged the existence of the prototype satellites this week, saying on Twitter that the Starlink broadband service "will serve [the] least served".
SpaceX, however, was attempting to recover the fairing - the aerodynamic covering that protects the satellite during the early phase of launch and is usually discarded after reaching altitudes where the atmosphere's density is low.
The net and arms of Mr. Steven. Image Courtesy Pauline Acaline Teslarati
GETTY SPACEX FALCON 9: The launch has been delayed four times "Payload and vehicle remain healthy".
The company launched two experimental satellites today (Feb. 22) created to help lay the foundation for Starlink, a network that, if all goes according to plan, will consist of thousands of spacecraft providing broadband internet service to people around the world. The demonstration satellites are part of SpaceX's effort to provide Internet access to rural areas through a network of small satellites.
"First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations", SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.
"Satellite broadband is already available".
FCC chairman Ajit Pai praised the so-called Starlink project for attempting to bring internet into those parts of the United States where it is a rare commodity. Tom Praderio, a SpaceX firmware engineer stated that once these satellites gather required details, there will be a considerable amount of work to be done in designing and deployment of the constellation to beam internet down to the customers on the ground.