SpaceX recently completed the first of four planned Falcon 9 rocket launches this month, launching 48 Starlink satellites and two BlackSky Earth observation satellites into orbit before landing a booster at sea.

At 6:12 p.m., a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. This is the booster's ninth flight.

In the last six months, the Falcon 9 rocket has successfully launched the second updated batch of Starlink satellites from Florida on one of its 229-foot-tall workhorse Falcon 9 rockets.

The company began a brisk launch schedule earlier this year but took a break for a few months to upgrade its own broadband internet satellites, which are now equipped with laser-based technologies to connect with one another in orbit rather than with the ground, according to the company.

SpaceX is currently providing interim internet services through the Starlink satellites to consumers who have signed up for a beta testing program.

The third batch of the company's recently upgraded Starlink internet satellites is set to launch today, with a stack of 48 Starlink spacecraft riding shotgun with two Earth-observing satellites for BlackSky.

The 48 Starlink satellites separated around a half-hour after the two BlackSky satellites safely separated from the rocket's upper stage, the company announced during a live broadcast of the launch and on Twitter.

This is BlackSky's second rideshare mission, and the two optical satellites onboard each weigh about 121 pounds. They will join eight other optical satellites to help build out BlackSky's intended constellation. The company's planned constellation will eventually consist of 12 satellites, with two more satellites set to launch on a future Rocket Lab mission.

The majority of the Starlink satellites launched so far have entered a 341-mile-high, 53-degree inclination orbit, the first of five orbital shells SpaceX aims to use to complete the Starlink network's full deployment. With a series of Starlink missions from Cape Canaveral from May 2019 to May this year, SpaceX completed the launch of satellites in that shell.

SpaceX has been rushing to finish the development of new inter-satellite laser terminals for all future Starlink satellites since May. The laser crosslinks, which have already been tested on a few Starlink satellites during previous flights, will lessen SpaceX's internet network's dependency on ground stations.

In February 2018, the first Starlink satellites were launched, together with two test satellites. When fully operational, the Starlink initiative is expected to bring in billions of dollars from millions of Internet subscribers around the world, helping to fund SpaceX's Mars missions.