SpaceX has launched its second batch of 60 internet satellites called Starlink into space which aims to meet the internet needs of consumers across the globe. The space rocket company blasted off 60 mini-satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, US.
SpaceX isn't the only one going after that ability with competitors including OneWeb, TeleSat and even Amazon eyeing the market.
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The rocket's first stage booster will focus on a landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
It's also the fourth flight for the Falcon and marks the first time the Falcon has flown several times. Re-flying the fairing could save SpaceX around $6 million per launch, per estimates CEO Elon Musk has previously shared. The "Starlink" satellites will be deployed at an altitude of 280 km to beam broadband Internet services. There are now around 4,000 intact spacecraft in Earth's orbit-of which just under 2,000 are still operational-meaning Starlink satellites would outnumber all of these put together once the project is operational. SpaceX launched its first batch of satellites in May and has tinkered with the design to increase spectrum capacity. "Prior to orbit raise, SpaceX engineers will conduct data reviews to ensure all Starlink satellites are operating as intended", the company's mission overview states. But the company is eyeing plans to boost that number by another 30,000 satellites. The Starlink satellite tally could eventually run into the tens of thousands, based on recent regulatory filings.
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The spacecraft successfully deployed from Falcon 9 nearly an hour after leaving the ground at an elevation of 174 miles above Earth. SpaceX is studying the satellite to be sure. The compact flat-panel satellites - just 575 pounds (260 kilograms) each - will join 60 launched in May.
Space.com reported that cameras attached to the fairing took a moment to separate from the Arabsat-6A communications satellite in April. The same article indicated that SpaceX and its head, Elon Musk, reassured the astronomers that once the satellites get settled in place, "they would stop masquerading as the stars they are named for". The upgrades that have been performed did not include changes to reduce the brightness of the satellites.
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A few weeks ago, SpaceX's president Gwynne Shotwell, when asked whether the Starlink system would be successful, asked her audience whether they all liked their internet service?