SpaceX launches 60 more global internet satellites, only 41,940 to go

13 Novembre, 2019, 14:36 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • SpaceX launches 60 more mini satellites for global internet

This launch was the first time SpaceX flew a rocket with a previously used nose cone and an orbital booster that has been used three times previously. The 60 satellites launched Monday will add to the dozens launched in May on the first Starlink flight, and the company plans to launch as many as 24 more missions next year as it builds up its network - adding more bandwidth and coverage area.

"We still have a long way to go from tweets to 4K cat videos, but we are on our way", said Lauren Lyons, a SpaceX engineer who hosted the webcast of Monday's launch. "His company also aims to provide internet access to USA consumers" internet access in 2020. One of SpaceX's launch commentators gave a nod to Veterans Day as the rocket rose: "With gratitude to our veterans, today and always, go US!"

Twenty four launches - more than 1,400 satellites - will be needed to provide global coverage starting in 2021, but SpaceX plans to continue boosting the total to provide additional bandwidth. This marks the fourth time that a Falcon 9 has achieved this, and, indeed, the fourth time that any single SpaceX rocket has been sent into space, according to the company.

SpaceX's launch is a milestone for the company as this mission brings the project a step closer to its goal of providing internet access worldwide.

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Also on October 22, coinciding with when Musk sent that tweet, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell told reporters that when someone signs up for Starlink internet, "they are going to receive a box from SpaceX with a user terminal and a cord". Musk says the team is looking at ways to reduce the albedo (or reflectivity) of the satellites in future launches.

The Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the satellites, was lifted off at 9:56 a.m. The nosecone is created to protect satellites during launch and is then normally discarded, but with an estimate cost of $6 million, SpaceX has made efforts to reuse this essential part. SpaceX is yet to finish the design and engineering for this receiver, which will cost approximately $200 and be small enough to fit in homes, even on roof of cars, ships, etc in order to connect to the internet. In the days after launch, those satellites could be seen as streaks in the night sky, and that's likely to be the case this time as well. The Starlink deployment system releases satellites like a deck of cards.

Not all skywatchers are happy about that: Some astronomers worry that thousands of such satellites will interfere with their observations.

SpaceX says its satellite constellation will be operational for Canada and the northern United States by next year.

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