SpaceX is one of the companies working to get a constellation of sattelites in low-earth orbit which can provide high speed internet access across the planet. Tonight they launched 60 more sats into orbit, bringing their total to about 180.
The video on the launch was incredible. Amazing view from the ground, all the way to main engine cutoff at 50 kilometers altitude.
This launch will get them far past several other companies into the first position of how many sats are in orbit.
Their system is called Starlink. Eventually their constellation will have 1,584 sats at 341 mile altitude.
Other companies working to develop a world-wide high-speed internet service include OneWeb, TeleSat and Amazon.
SpaceX’s commercial services for parts of the U.S. might start after they have another half dozen launches, which would put them at around 540 satellites in orbit ( (2 previous launches + 1 tonight + 6 more ) * 60 each = 540 sats ). They may be able to start global operations with the 24th launch, or with a constellation of 1,440 satellites ( 24 launches * 60 sats each = 1,440 sats ).
Space.com article says no pricing data has been released yet for the Starlink service.
This was the fourth flight for this Falcon 9 booster. It has previously flown in 9/18, 1/19, and 5/19. They recovered this booster and will attempt to recover one of the two fairings.
As I publish this post, the booster has been recovered, the satellites will be released in about half an hour, and attempt to capture one fairing will be in around 10 minutes.
- 1/6/20 – Ars Technica – With Monday night launch, SpaceX to become world’s largest satellite operator
- Undated – SpaceX – Starlink mission
- 1/6/20 – Space.com – SpaceX Will Launch 60 Starlink Satellites into Orbit Tonight. Here’s How to Watch It Live.
Update: Very cool to watch the stack of 60 satellites all deploy in one batch. They will disperse and each seek its specific spot in space. Only sad tidbit of the launch is the fairing was not recovered. You can count on SpaceX figuring out how to catch the fairings soon.