SpaceX, Elon Musk-led company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, has launched 60 mini ‘Starlink’ satellites that will provide high-speed internet to nations. While its ultimate goal is to provide affordable internet globally, the mission is still in its nascent stage and will start delivering the service in some parts of the US and Canada next year. The company launched 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The satellites were aboard the ‘Falcon 9’ launch vehicle.
Falcon 9 supported the Iridium-7, SAOCOM-1A, and Nusantara Satu missions, and the fairing was previously flown on Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat-6A mission earlier this year. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the fifth time the rocket was used and it is claimed that it can be used five more times. The flat-panel satellites aboard the rocket weigh 260 kilograms each and join the other 60 that were launched in May. The global coverage for populated areas will be provided after 24 launches.
‘SpaceX is developing a low latency, broadband internet system to meet the needs of consumers across the globe. Enabled by a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to populations with little or no connectivity, including those in rural communities and places where existing services are too expensive or unreliable,’ the company said in a press note.
The Starlink satellites will deploy at an altitude of 280 kilometre. Prior to orbit raise, the engineers at SpaceX will conduct data reviews to ensure all Starlink satellites are operating as intended. Once the checkouts are complete, the satellites will then use their onboard ion thrusters to move into their intended orbits. According to the company, the components of each satellite are 100 per cent demisable and will quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their life cycle. Each satellite has an autonomous system for dodging space junk. You can watch the launch in the video embedded below.