A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a thrice-flown first stage and previously used bowtie disguise launched into orbit on a Veterans Day flight Monday to launch 60 Starlink Internet relay satellites. It was the second game in a planned constellation of thousands to offer broadband services around the world.
With the rising sun as background – and
In a further first stage, the nose cone that protected the Starlink satellites and their bearers during ascent from the lower atmosphere completed the second flight after launching in April on a Falcon Heavy rocket.
Two and a half minutes after taking off, the first stage crashed down in a vacuum, dropped off and headed for an offshore salvage ship, while the second stage continued into the orbit. Less than a minute later, the two halves of the nose cone fairing were dropped.
Then, in a familiar scene, the first stage plunged rearward into the lower atmosphere, ignited its mid-engine and landed four landings, landing on a targeted landing on the drone. "Of course, I always love you still "stationed several hundred miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.
Less than 10 seconds later, the second stage and its satellite payload reached their original orbit.
The timetable envisaged that the 60 solar-powered Starlink satellites, each weighing 573 pounds, would be placed in a 174-mile high orbit approximately one hour after launch after a second launch of the Falcon 9's second engine. After testing and checking out, the satellites are brought to their operating position by means of ion-beam thrusters on board.
SpaceX has regulatory approval to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink relay stations in dozens of orbital aircraft. With multiple satellites in sight from any point on the earth's surface, relay stations can seamlessly route Internet traffic using satellite-to-satellite links for uninterrupted service.
The launch on Monday, along withand four more batches planned for next year, will ship approximately 360 satellites into orbit and by 2020 much of the United States and Canada cover.
Twenty-four launches – more than 1,400 satellites – will be required to provide worldwide coverage from 2021 onwards. SpaceX, however, plans to further increase overall capacity to provide additional bandwidth. The total number of satellites that could eventually go into orbit is not yet known.
Following Starlink's first launch in May, astronomers expressed concern that sunlight reflected by the satellites could disrupt sensitive observations. SpaceX representatives said they should take steps to minimize reflectivity and ensure easy observation.
Apart from astronomy, the Starlink network is expected to enable "high-bandwidth, low-latency connections, ideally around the world," according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk earlier this year. "This would provide connectivity to people who today have no connectivity or are extremely expensive and unreliable."
The Starlink system will also serve people who have connectivity in developed areas of the world today, but this is very expensive, "he added," which offers them a competitive option. "