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The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 6:17 a.m. from the base near Santa Barbara.

Aboard the Falcon 9 on Thursday's launch was a Spanish satellite simply called as PAZ.

His aim is to develop a low-priced, high-performance satellite bus and requisite customer ground transceivers to implement a new space-based Internet communication system.

The launch window is instantaneous, which means that if the Falcon 9 can't get off the ground right on time, SpaceX will have to scrub for the day.

Ultimately, the company intends to launch around 12,000 of these broadband satellites, and the recent payload is the first step into turning this vision into reality.

Quietly on board were two additional experimental broadband satellites, Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, a big first step in SpaceX's long-term plans to create satellite internet over the next decade.

The scale of the proposal, informally known as Starlink, is incredible.

That's almost 12,000 satellites, more than twice the number of all satellites launched in history, according to a tally by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The company's CEO Elon Musk has previously joked that failing to recover the fairing is the equivalent of surrendering a €5m pallet of cash to the sea.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last week he supported SpaceX's proposed Starlink network, saying "to bridge America's digital divide, we'll have to use innovative technologies". The spacecraft are mentioned in documents SpaceX filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), however.

The satellites were part of a payload in a Falcon 9 rocket that took flight from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The mysterious lights from a December 22 Falcon 9 launch prompted many emergency calls around Southern California. An Air Force weather forecast released Wednesday said conditions at Launch Complex 40 should be 80 percent "go" for the launch to geostationary transfer orbit.

Feb 22 launch of Falcon 9 marks the fourth launch of SpaceX in 2018 and the company aims to achieve the target of 24 in coming months.

SpaceX is sending up the mission using, in part, a reusable first-stage rocket booster that the company launched and recovered in August. The value of these fairings is about $6 million, and recovering and reusing them would both save SpaceX money and remove another roadblock on their production line for Falcon 9 rockets.

Meanwhile, Boeing (BA) also has plans to develop and launch its own constellation of satellites, joining Telesat Canada and Space Norway with similar plans.