Watch SpaceX Falcon 9 Send Satellites Into Orbit in Record-Breaking Launch

Elon Musk's SpaceX has launched 48 Starlink satellites and two remote-sensing BlackSky spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from its Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The launch on Thursday at 6:12 p.m. EST represents the company's 27th Falcon 9 blast-off in 2021, breaking its previous record of 26 launches of the rockets in 2020.

The 48 Starlink satellites successfully separated from the rocket in low-Earth orbit, bringing the size of SpaceX's internet constellation to over 1,750 units as it works towards worldwide coverage.

SpaceX describes the Starlink global internet system as "the world's most advanced broadband internet system."

On its website, SpaceX adds: "Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet."

Starlink satellites orbit Earth closer than most geostationary satellites at a height of around 340 miles, rather than at around 22,000 miles above the planet.

The idea behind space-based internet is that signals travel much more rapidly through space than through fiber optic cable.

The Starlink website continues: "Because Starlink satellites are in a low orbit, the round-trip data time between the user and the satellite—also known as latency—is much lower than with satellites in geostationary orbit."

Following the successful deployment of its cargo, the Falcon 9's reusable first stage vehicle successfully landed on SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship located in the Atlantic Ocean. This represents the ninth successful launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which has now been involved in six Starlink launch missions.

According to the company's website, there have been 139 SpaceX launches since 2006, and of these, 129 have been Falcon 9 missions, making it "the main workhorse for SpaceX."

As well as accounting for over 94 percent of SpaceX rocket missions, Falcon 9s have a high success rate of over 98 percent, with just two mission failures in the history of its use.

In addition to the current generation of Falcon 9 rockets known as "Block 5" models, SpaceX also currently has the more powerful Falcon Heavy rocket at its disposal. This rocket model has currently only flown three times, twice in 2019 and once in 2018, with more launches planned for the future.

After already breaking its record for launches, SpaceX has more blast-offs still planned for 2021, with at least five more launches are planned for what remains of this year.

Newsweek previously reported that Musk sent out an email to employees working on the Raptor engine for SpaceX's next generation of spacecraft, Starship, warning them that if production was not stepped up the company could potentially face bankruptcy.

The leaked email read: "What it comes down to, is that we face a genuine risk of bankruptcy if we can't achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year."

Falcon 9 Launch
An image showing the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket. On Thursday December 2 SpaceX launched 48 Starlink satellites and two BlackSky spacecraft to orbit aboard a Falcon 9. 6381380/GETTY