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SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit

SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit – taking the total to almost 800 – as CEO Elon Musk reveals a test of the internet-beaming constellation is imminent

  • Elon Musk’s firm had another successful launch of 60 satellites on October 18
  • SpaceX aims to have more than 1,000 satellites in orbit by the end of the year
  • Constellation will bring internet connectivity to hard to reach and rural areas 

SpaceX has launched 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit, taking the total in low Earth orbit to 784. 

Elon Musk‘s company launched the satellites on its launch vehicle Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:25am EDT (1:25pm BST) on Sunday. 

The Starlink satellites, which are each about the size of a table, deployed approximately one hour and three minutes after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed. 

At least 800 satellites are needed for SpaceX to start introducing moderate internet coverage, Musk has said, and a test of the internet-beaming constellation is now imminent. 

The firm aims to have more than 1,000 satellites in orbit by the end of the year and has also been approved by the FCC to launch over 12,000 in total. 

Collectively they will form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low-Earth orbit. 

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Sunday, October 18

‘Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites – one step closer to providing high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,’ SpaceX tweeted on Sunday.

Flamenco 9 is a multistage rocket – meaning it separates in sections after its launch.  

About nine minutes after the successful launch, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on one of SpaceX’s drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean, memorably called ‘Of Course I Still Love You’. 

The rocket is seen here on Sunday carrying the 14th batch of 60 Starlink communications satellites

The rocket is seen here on Sunday carrying the 14th batch of 60 Starlink communications satellites

The recovery vessel catches falling boosters and returns them to port to save on costs. 

Sunday’s launch followed a previous launch of 60 satellites on October 6 and precedes another set of 60 on October 21 – just a couple of days’ time. 

Following the October 6 launch, Musk said the constellation is ready for public use and will start a public beta test in America. 

‘Once these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll out a fairly wide public beta in northern US and hopefully southern Canada,’ Musk at the time. 

SpaceX said Starlink is targeting service in the Northern US and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.  

Musk tweeted earlier this month after the previous launch of another 60 satellites that the constellation would be starting a public beta test

Musk tweeted earlier this month after the previous launch of another 60 satellites that the constellation would be starting a public beta test

The Starlink satellites deployed into orbit approximately one hour and three minutes after liftoff on Sunday

The Starlink satellites deployed into orbit approximately one hour and three minutes after liftoff on Sunday

Earlier this month, SpaceX lent a hand to first responders battling wildfires in Washington by providing them with internet from space.

The firm provided the Washington Emergency Management Division seven ‘UFO on a stick’ user terminals to receive internet from the Starlink satellites.

The firm has admitted the Starlink network is still in its early stages, despite the number of satellites now in orbit.

Each Starlink satellite weighs 500 pounds (227 kilograms) and is roughly the size of a table

Each Starlink satellite weighs 500 pounds (227 kilograms) and is roughly the size of a table 

‘The Starlink team continues to test the system, collecting latency data and performing speed tests of the service,’ the firm said.  

SpaceX has launched 835 Starlink satellites in total, although some have been decommissioned and deorbited, bringing the total active satellites to just under 800. 

It was revealed last year that SpaceX has plans to eventually send an extra 30,000  internet satellites into orbit for its Starlink superfast broadband.

The US’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) applied to the UN’s governing body on satellites, International Telecommunications Union (ITU), for the operation of 30,000 new small satellites in low-Earth orbits. 

ELON MUSK’S SPACEX SET TO BRING BROADBAND INTERNET TO THE WORLD WITH ITS STARLINK CONSTELLATION OF SATELLITES 

Elon Musk’s ‘Starlink’ satellites form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.

The constellation, informally known as Starlink, are under development at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Washington.

Its goal is to beam superfast internet into your home from space.

While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.

Starlink is different. SpaceX says putting a ‘constellation’ of satellites in low earth orbit would provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world.

The billionaire’s company wants to create the global system to help it generate more cash.

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.

It could also help fund a future city on Mars.

Helping humanity reach the red planet is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.

The company filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit above the Earth – three times as many that are currently in operation.

‘Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,’ the firm said.

‘Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.’

The network will provide internet access to the US and the rest of the world, it added.

It is expected to take more than five years and $9.8 billion (£7.1bn) of investment, although satellite internet has proved an expensive market in the past and analysts expect the final bill will be higher.

Musk compared the project to ‘rebuilding the internet in space’, as it would reduce reliance on the existing network of undersea fibre-optic cables which criss-cross the planet.

In the US, the FCC welcomed the scheme as a way to provide internet connections to more people.

 

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