SpaceX will have nearly 1,000 Starlink satellites orbiting Earth after rocket launch Sunday

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon capsule attached, lifts off from Launch Complex 39-A Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Four astronauts will fly on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX is set to launch its 16th Starlink satellite mission Sunday night, carrying 60 satellites into orbit.

This comes a day after a U.S.-European satellite designed to extend a decades-long measurement of global sea surface heights was launched into Earth orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from California. 

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is named for a former NASA official who had a key role in developing space-based oceanography. Its main instrument is an extremely accurate radar altimeter that will bounce signals off the surface of the oceans.

SpaceX’s Sunday launch will be the seventh flight of the booster rocket, setting a new record for the company as it aims to reuse rockets to lower the cost of space travel. The company will also have deployed 955 Starlink satellites into orbit since May 2019.

SpaceX is working to build a multibillion-dollar telecom business by launching Internet-beaming satellite arrays into Earth’s orbit. The string of Starlink satellites resemble a line of moving lights when seen from the ground.

The launch is scheduled for 8:56 p.m. Sunday and will be streamed online.

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