Published: Fri, May 24, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

SpaceX To Launch 60 Starlink Internet Service Satellites

SpaceX To Launch 60 Starlink Internet Service Satellites

SpaceX on Thursday launched a rocket containing the first 60 satellites of its "Starlink" constellation, which is meant to provide internet from space and could one day number 12,000 satellites.

SpaceX is launching its Starlink mission onboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

In all, each Starlink satellite is equipped with multiple high-throughput antennas, a single solar array, and (crucially) Hall thrusters powered by krypton - all created to bring low-latency, high-throughput internet services to every part of the world.

To carry out this plan, Musk said SpaceX will have to launch at least 400 satellites to be able to have "minor" internet coverage and at least 800 satellites for "moderate" coverage.

Moreso, it is the heaviest payload ever launched by SpaceX to date on either their Falcon 1, Falcon 9, or Falcon Heavy rockets. However, unacceptable Upper Level Winds scrubbed the first launch attempt. " The first 1,584 Starlink satellites are expected to operate from a 550km orbit (GSO / GEO Stationary Orbit satellites sit at about 35,000km+ and are often more akin to the size of a double decker bus)".

SpaceX deploys its 60 Starlink satellites simultaenously.

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"There is a lot of new technology here, and it's possible that some of these satellites may not work and, in fact, a small possibility that all the satellites will not work", he said. Each satellite weighs 500 pounds apiece and contains a single solar array, tiny thrusters, a navigation system that allows SpaceX to find them in orbit and a handful of high-throughput antennas, so they can flick signals around.

"SpaceX expects to encounter issues along the way, but our learnings here are key to developing an affordable and reliable broadband service in the future", according to the company. At approximately 8:32 p.m. PT, the first 60 of these satellites were released from the payload bay of the Falcon 9, 273 miles (440 kilometers) above Earth. OneWeb, which is backed by Richard Branson's Virgin and Qualcomm, launched its first six satellites on February 27, off the back of Arianespace's Russian Soyuz-2.

SpaceX and Boeing Co. have contracts with Nasa to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew program.

It was the third flight for this particular booster, marking just the second time SpaceX has flown a Falcon 9 first stage more than twice.

Another six launches of 60 or so Starlink satellites each will provide a "useful" network and another six launches after that will provide minimal global coverage.

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